For Immediate Release
September 24, 2012
On September 27, 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals will hear arguments in an appeal brought by the Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign (MN BBC) against the Minnesota State Board of Investment (SBI). The hearing is currently scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m. in Courtroom 300 of the Minnesota Judicial Center at 25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., in St. Paul.
MN BBC and others, including the besieged Palestinian village of Bil’in in the West Bank, sued the SBI for violating Minnesota law by investing in Israel Bonds. The appellants contend that Minnesota Statute 11A.24 restricts the SBI’s investment in foreign government bonds to Canadian Bonds, which excludes Israel Bonds. They also contend that the purchase of Israel Bonds materially supports Israel’s human rights violations and its continuing construction of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, an internationally recognized violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, a ratified treaty binding on Minnesota courts pursuant to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. The appeal followed the dismissal of the lawsuit by Ramsey County District Court Judge Margaret Marrinan earlier this year.
Israel Bonds, an arm of the Government of Israel, has hired Minneapolis attorney Charles Nauen to advise them about the issues surrounding the case. Israel Bonds is concerned that the lawsuit could set a precedent for lawsuits in other states, according to a recent statement by the executive director of Israel Bonds Midwest Region. Nauen is a local pro-Israel activist and a recognized political figure in Minnesota politics, having served as Governor Dayton’s chief co-counsel during the election recount. Nauen has boasted that he has received training from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in tactics employed to resist the worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Patterned after the South African anti-apartheid movement, the worldwide BDS movement is a response to the Palestinian call for non-violent resistance to Israel’s violations of international law and human rights in its treatment of the indigenous Palestinian population. MN BBC is an active participant in the BDS movement. Because of Governor Dayton’s position as the chairperson of the SBI and his close ties to Nauen, Israel’s retention of Nauen to represent its interests with respect to MN BBC’s Israel Bond divestment efforts raises serious questions about the extent of Israeli governmental influence in the affairs of Minnesota state government. Governor Dayton has been particularly resistant to MN BBC’s divestment demands, even after receiving information that the SBI’s investment in Israel Bonds materially supports human rights violations and illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Media are invited to attend the hearing on September 27 but must register with the court prior to bringing recording devices.