Your Retirement Funds in Iraq, Israel

The war at home.

(This story has been corrected since its original posting. See comment from the author below.) The Washington Israel Business Council and the local chapter of StandWithUs.org are fighting a city initiative that would pull the City of Seattle's employee retirement fund out of investments in businesses that are involved in the U.S. occupation of Iraq or provide material support to the Israeli government in the territories Israel has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Furthermore, the initiative would instruct the city to withdraw any investment in Israeli government bonds should the country attack Iran.The two groups are fundamentally opposed to the way Initiative 97 has targeted Israel, but the bigger concern, says StandWithUs.org regional director Robert Jacobs, is the way in which antiwar vitriol trumps other considerations. "The way they drafted it, somebody signing it will see it as an anti-Iraq petition," he says. "If people are going to sign something to put a petition on the ballot, they should understand what they're signing."The measure, created by a group calling itself Seattle Divest From War and Occupation, was written after marches and letter-writing campaigns proved ineffective, says campaign spokesperson Carla Curio. The group decided to refocus efforts close to home and take on the way in which the city invested money, specifically employee retirement funds. "We're desperate citizens trying to have a say in the Middle East," Curio says.Taking nothing for granted, StandWithUs.org and the Business Council are challenging the initiative on very technical legal grounds in King County Superior Court. They begin with the official title, which, at 101 words, exceeds the prescribed word-count limit by four. Their petition to the court also notes that the Washington State Constitution only allows such initiatives to cover one topic, while the opposition claims I-97 covers three separate issues.Curio says she can't comment in detail on the pending legal action, but does say: "This is something that should be brought to the voters and not fought in the court system."

 
comments powered by Disqus