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Pro-Palestine activists rally in Minnesota, demand US divest from Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Minnesotans demand divestment from Israel.

Pro-Palestine activists have rallied in Saint Paul, the state capital of Minnesota in the US, protesting against the state’s support for Israel and demanding it divests from the occupation regime.

The protesters, who gathered outside the governor’s mansion, called on Minnesota’s State Board of Investment (SBI) to sell off its shares in Israeli corporations.

The protest action, which was initiated by the Anti-War Committee (AWC), came just a day before the August meeting of the Minnesota SBI in order to raise awareness of the state of Minnesota’s large holdings in a variety of Israeli companies, most notably Elbit Systems, which is a weapons manufacturing and cybersecurity firm.

Minnesota’s SBI currently owns 10,396 shares in Elbit Systems, which are worth $1,170,705 at current market value.

Several petitions have been gathered showing signatures of over 1000 Minnesotans demanding that their taxpayer dollars no longer be used to bankroll Israeli apartheid.

At Wednesday’s SBI meeting, Meredith Aby-Kierstaad of the AWC told the board: “For years, when peace activists, Palestine solidarity activists, and related groups have called upon to divest from Israel, you have used the excuse of ‘fiduciary responsibility.’”

The development comes on the heels of several military raids conducted by Israeli forces against seven civil society organizations (CSOs) in Palestine last week.

Explaining about the targeted humanitarian organizations, the AWC representative Erin Stene said “these seven humanitarian groups advocate for Palestinian women, children and farmers; document human rights offenses, and strengthen democracy.”

“In pillaging and outlawing these organizations, Israel is frantically trying to dismantle Palestinian society,” Stene noted, condemning the Israeli raids on these organizations.

“By investing the pension funds of Minnesotans in Israel bonds, banks, and companies, the Minnesota State Board of Investments is complicit in Israel’s cowardly assault on and oppression of the Palestinian people,” she added.

Meanwhile, Jess Sundin of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar – which is a US community group dedicated to the fight for justice for those who have been harmed by police - brought attention to the program of “deadly exchange” between the US government and Israel.

“If Black lives really do matter in 21st century America, then the ‘deadly exchange’ programs with Israel should be brought to an end without delay,” Sundin said, referring to a bilateral program between the US and Israel, which brings together police, ICE, border patrol, and FBI from the US with soldiers, police, border agents, etc. from Israel.

“I’m talking about the direct training of thousands of police forces, including hundreds from here in Minnesota, by the Israeli occupation forces,” Sundin added.

In a website established to protest against the so-called US-Israeli police partnership program, it reads: “In these programs, ‘worst practices’ are shared to promote and extend discriminatory and repressive policing in both countries. These include racial profiling, massive spying and surveillance, deportation and detention, and attacks on human rights defenders.”

The US has supported the Israeli regime for decades, burying its head in the sand every time the regime commits atrocities against Palestinians.

In a very recent raid, the Israeli regime carried out a new massacre in the besieged Gaza Strip on August 5, which killed 49 Palestinians, including 17 children and Taysir al-Jabari, a senior commander of the Islamic Jihad movement, during the three-day assault. 

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