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Illinois anti-BDS bill usurps the power of other people’s money: International lawyer

Barry Grossman: Illinois legislators are “usurping control of other peoples’ money on a comprehensive scale to advance a political agenda on behalf of foreign special interests.”

International lawyer and political commentator Barry Grossman says a new Illinois bill to ban pension fund investments in enterprises which support the boycott of Israel is an absurd attempt by legislators to usurp control of other people’s money in order to advance a political agenda on behalf of the Zionist regime.

Grossman, who is based on the Indonesian island of Bali, made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Friday, after Republican Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois signed a controversial bill on Thursday prohibiting state pension funds from investing in companies that boycott Israel.  

The legislation requires state pension systems to terminate direct investment in companies that participate in the boycott movement targeting Israel.

The bill defines the boycott Israel campaign as “engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with…Israel or companies based in… Israel or in territories controlled by…Israel.”

“We need to stand up to anti-Semitism whenever and wherever we see it,” Governor Rauner said, after he signed the bill into law.

Commenting to Press TV, Grossman said, “What we are talking about here is a lifetime merchant banker with an estimated net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars joining with two Jewish American Democrats to ram through legislation which violates the basic principles of prudential fund management without any mandate or legitimate basis to interfere in this way, all to silence critics of another nation’s brutal polices which are almost universally recognized to violate basic principles of international law.”

“What they are doing is usurping control of other peoples’ money on a comprehensive scale to advance a political agenda on behalf of foreign special interests,” he added.  

“While at the same time, [they are] running roughshod over the legal and constitutional rights of Americans to hold, express, and lawfully act on their own political views, and simultaneously violating the right of millions of beneficiaries whose pension fund contributions are controlled under clear regulatory guidelines to be guaranteed that accepted standards of prudential fund management are adhered to,” the commentator stated.

“To be clear, on the face of it, this legislation does not merely target pension fund administrators who, by choosing to invest pension funds in enterprises which boycott or otherwise support divestment from Israel, are violating their own prudential obligations to pension fund beneficiaries,” he noted.  

“Rather, this absurd legislation at once aims to compel pension fund administrators not to invest the funds they manage in what  they consider to be the best investments for their stake holders, while without color of right  simultaneously compelling  the public at large to do the  very same thing to American businesses en masse,  which this triumvirate of supposedly progressive tyrants complain about  individuals doing to Israeli businesses by exercising their individual right to support  the boycott and divestment movement,” Grossman continued.

The boycott movement seeks to end the Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands and respect the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

The BDS campaign against Israel began in July 2005 by 171 Palestinian organizations, which calls for "various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

Grossman said that “while personally I wholeheartedly support the Boycott and Divestment movement, I do not support BDS or the way it has commandeered both the boycott movement and the voice of all Palestinians, in order to advance a somewhat clandestine but clearly articulated agenda which is in fact contrary to the views held by a great many Palestinians – that is,  recognition of Israel’s right to exist within boundaries set by the 1967 Green Line.  But that is another matter altogether.”

“What is clear is that there is nothing clever about this thinly veiled legislative attempt to usurp the power of the other peoples’ money and their freedom of political choice.  Both Governor Rauner – a career merchant banker who became fabulously wealthy managing pension funds – and Representative Silverstein – who is a long standing practicing attorney – really ought to know better,” he pointed out.

“When we consider this triumvirate’s obvious loyalties to foreign special interests, their actions in advancing this Bill become only that much more outrageous. If this legislation is not declared unconstitutional, then America for all intents and purposes no longer has a constitution,” the international lawyer concluded.

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