Minnesota Governor Fends Off Calls for State to Divest Israeli Bonds

Group called Break the Bonds seeks divestment because it says Israel violates human rights.

Protesters against the BDS movement during the Celebrate Israel Parade in New York, June 1, 2014.
AP

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday found himself on the defensive regarding the state's investment in Israeli bonds.

The state has had a chunk of funds in Israeli debt for 20 years. A group called Break the Bonds wants that investment to end because of what it claims is Israel's violations of human rights, media reports say.

And members of the group showed up at a meeting of the state investment board, which Dayton chairs, to say so.

"We really want to hear from you. We really want to understand what it's going to take," said one Break the Bonds member, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

"We have a different view, I have a different view than yours," Dayton said. "As far as I'm concerned, the case is closed as far as our decision."

Another protestor accused Dayton of saying in July that Palestinians deserved to be bombed. Dayton replied that he did not believe he said that.

The protestors said he was quoted saying so in the Star-Tribune. The paper confirmed that the governor did not say that. He told the paper then, "Tonight, I join with you in expressing my support of the people of Israel in defending themselves against Hamas’s terrorism."

Pensions and Investments Online quoted local media as estimating that Minnesota has $30 million invested in Israeli bonds. The website said that the bonds expire at the end of June but that the state has the option to reinvest.