A committee set up by the Illinois legislature is investigating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream since the ice cream company announced that they would not be selling their product in Israeli occupied Palestine.
Ben and Jerry’s has long been a company with a progressive conscience.
And a good product.
The Illinois investigation arises out of a 2017 law, passed unanimously by the legislature, that prohibited state pension funds from being invested in companies that went along with BDS.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.
There is so much wrong with this law and the investigation of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
The most obvious is that the public pension systems are hundreds of billions in debt because the state never paid their share and continue to short their actuarial payments.
This alone should disallow them from having anything to say about how our retirement funds are invested.
It is also a clear violation of the first amendment right to free speech. If Ben and Jerry’s wants to support the rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, what does that have to do with our pension investments.
Most of the world condemns Israeli policies towards the Palestinians as violating basic human rights.
By the way, I have no objections to our TRS board of trustees establishing a code of ethics or policy of social justice investing.
But that is something that should be decided on between public pension members and our board of trustees.
The legislature should stay out of it.
That goes for the Chicago City Council. Shortly after the Illinois General Assembly adopted the BDS law, the Chicago City Council unanimously followed suit.
50 – 0.
It’s interesting what the Chicago City Council can unanimously agree on.
A recent Chicago Tribune editorial pointed out:
Illinoisans have only to look to the disturbingly long queue of former lawmakers charged with crimes or facing federal probes to know that ethics is not the Illinois General Assembly’s strong suit.
It certainly disqualifies them from policing the politics of our pension investments.