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Illinois Becomes First State To Divest From Israel Boycotters

Illinois on Thursday became the first U.S. state to divest its public pension funds from companies that boycott Israel.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the historic legislation into law as Jewish community leaders and the consul general of Israel to the Midwest, Roey Gilad, looked on.

“We need to stand up to anti-Semitism whenever and wherever we see it,” Rauner said in a statement. “This historic legislation is an important first step in the fight against boycotts of Israel and I hope other states move quickly to follow our lead.”

The new law, modeled on existing Illinois legislation regarding Iran and Sudan, requires state pension systems to purge from their portfolios companies that directly boycott Israel and send warnings to fund managers when companies engaged in boycott activity are held indirectly inside larger portfolios.

Rauner thanked state Sen. Ira Silverstein and state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, both Chicago Democrats, for sponsoring the legislation, which the Illinois’ legislature passed unanimously this spring.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), whose own legislation combatting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in Europe was signed into law by President Barack Obama, praised the step by Illinois.

“This is a great day for the State of Illinois and the ongoing battle against the insidious BDS campaign,” said Roskam in a statement. “Once again, Democrats and Republicans have joined together to stand up against those who seek to delegitimize and isolate our ally Israel.”

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