Sending a message
Osama Bin Laden’s death was a major victory in the war on terror, but there are more battles ahead. We must fight the terrorists, financially as well. And Pennsylvania is beginning to have an impact.
That is why I authored legislation last year that would divest public funds from companies that do business with Iran and Sudan.
My legislation, which was signed into law last July of 2010 requires the state’s public “four funds” — Public School Employees’ Retirement System, the State Employees’ Retirement System, the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System and the Treasury Department — to divest from direct investments in foreign companies that conduct business with two countries that promote terrorism and genocide: Iran and Sudan.
The four funds informed 38 companies in which one or more of the funds have direct holdings about the passage of Act 44 and provided the companies an opportunity to offer plans to end business activities prohibited by the new law.
The 38 companies have $198 million in direct investments in Sudan and Iran. Eighteen have operations in Iran, 17 have operations in Sudan, and 3 have operations in both countries. These companies include Royal Dutch Shell and Mitsubishi.
Act 44 allows the scrutinized companies in which the four funds have direct holdings 180 days to provide information supporting their removal from the scrutinized list. If they do not meet this requirement, the four funds must begin the process of divesting from these companies.
So far, 21 companies with direct holdings have responded. Eleven companies have been either removed from the divestment list or may be removed based on additional information and responses. This means that the law is having its desired impact. Pennsylvania may continue investing in companies that sever their investments in Iran and Sudan.
As a civilized commonwealth, and as one of the states that was directly impacted by the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Pennsylvania cannot and will not associate itself with rogue nations that sponsor terrorism and genocide.
We should not be supporting these countries in any way. We are sending a clear message, in our own way, that Pennsylvania does not tolerate genocide and terrorism generated by Iran and Sudan.
Pennsylvania tax dollars should not finance terrorism and genocide. Divestment is a positive step to stop countries that harm innocent people, commit heinous acts, and threaten the fabric of democracy and human decency.
Sen. Mike Stack
Self-defense is a right
Like any country, Israel has the right to defend its borders. Even though it is a border with a hostile country, so long as no attempts are made to cross it or to throw Molotov cocktails to the Israeli side, no Israeli reaction is needed nor will be taken.
It is clear that these provocations [this past weekend] could not have happened without direct Syrian encouragement, trying to divert attention from killings of its own citizens.
(The author is the Israeli embassy spokesman in the United Kingdom. The letter was distributed Monday to the media.)