Help End the Iranian Threat: Ask Congress to Allow States to Divest
On September 10, 2007, the Union for Reform Judaism’s Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees overwhelmingly adopted a “Resolution on Iran Divestment” that calls on its members and affiliate organizations to divest, where feasible, from companies that do more than $20 million dollars of business in the Iranian energy sector. The resolution represents both an internal call to examine holdings on a personal, congregational, and Movement-wide level as well as an external call to encourage divestment by major organizations and state-wide pension funds.
While at least 15 state pension funds have taken action in some form or another, a significant roadblock to state divestment efforts remains: specifically, the constitutional requirement that states not engage in “foreign policy”. For this reason, the House passed the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2007 by an overwhelming margin of 408-6, which would have allowed states to choose to divest from Iran without worrying that such measures would be struck down as unconstitutional. The Senate, however, failed to act on the companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), before the end of the 110th Congress.
The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act (H.R. 1327/S. 1065) has been reintroduced, presenting an important opportunity for states to follow the example of California, Florida, and Missouri, which have already committed to divesting from Iran.
The Iranian government is problematic for many reasons, including continued human rights abuse, its stated opposition to the existence of the state of Israel, denial of the Holocaust, sponsorship of terrorist organizations, and enrichment of uranium in defiance of international inspectors. Judaism demands that we “search for peace and pursue it” (Psalms 34:15) and Jewish rules on warfare eschew weapons that would kill indiscriminately and create sustained and lasting damage to the environment. As we pursue diplomatic efforts to change Iran’s behavior, it is time to support targeted economic sanctions and divestment to increase leverage in our effort to achieve credible assurances that the government of Iran has ceased all efforts to develop nuclear weapons capability and is cooperating with international inspectors.
Urge your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act (H.R. 1327 / S. 1065) and give states the necessary tools to divest from Iran. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121, or you can send an email by entering your zip code below. For more information, check out our Iran Divestment Toolkit or contact Legislative Assistant Liz Piper-Goldberg at 202.387.2800.