In a Sun-Times op-ed, Donald Wagner and Ghada Hashem Talhami strongly oppose state legislation, approved unanimously in Springfield, that would require our state’s pension funds to divest from foreign companies boycotting Israel [“Illinois has no business boycotting those who boycott Israel,” May 14].
Their arguments abound in ironies. First, they don’t like it when the tactical tables are turned on them. My boycott good; yours bad. But did they even bother to read the legislation? It’s a divestment – not a boycott – law. Those poor foreign companies boycotting Israel can still do business in Illinois and even secure state contracts. We just don’t have to invest in such politicized companies anymore.
Second, they argue that the bill is a true sign that the boycott Israel movement is sure to win shortly. The boycott Israel effort got launched before the state was even created, and was then formalized shortly after 1948 by the Arab League. But it began to unravel as Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties and many other Arab and Muslim states decided to trade, albeit quietly, with the Jewish State. The boycott movement was then re-launched with vigor by anti-Israel groups in 2005.
How successful has it been the past decade?
Looking at just at the Illinois-Israel trade of goods (not services) is revealing: Illinois exports to the Jewish State are up over 66 percent and Israel’s exports to Illinois are up over 15 percent. Not exactly a winning trend line for the boycotters.
Why are Wagner and Talhami declaring “victory” when the defeat of boycott is so obvious? How many more years of such pyrrhic “victories” can the Palestinians endure?
One can only hope that Palestinian leaders and their advocates abroad finally put down their swords and their boycott campaigns, accept the reality and justice of the Jewish State, and negotiate a peace treaty that serves everyone’s interests. There is a peace deal to be made. Don’t boycott it.
executive vice president
Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago
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