Divest from Iarael rather than Iran
A letter sent to the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) in Ohio in response to a notice from STRS saying the Governor of Ohio has asked them to divest from Iran.
While I support divestment as a useful tactic, I am disturbed by the Governor's request for divestment from Iran based on the 'Iran nuclear deal'. The Iran/US/EU nuclear agreement has potential to reverse nuclear tensions in the Middle East. Furthermore the main source of concern in the Middle East is Israel's substantial nuclear weapon threat; finally there is no attempt to deny the existence of their nuclear weapons and Israel has shown on several occasions their willingness to respond with escalated and unjustified military response to any perceived threat. If STRS is to look to divestment it should look first to Israel where the threat is clear and present.
Wellington, New Zealand
P.S. I very pleased to see STRS is continuing to lead with the 'defined benefit plan'.
Governor, Treasurer of State Support Divestment Initiatives
Opposition to the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear agreement has revived interest in divestiture initiatives in Ohio and other states. Gov. Kasich recently signed a letter along with several other governors formally opposing the Iran nuclear deal. He separately called on the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) to divest from companies that invest in Iran. Gov. Kasich issued his comments in response to a portion of the Iran agreement that encourages states to remove divestment policies. The governor asked OPERS to “maintain the current policies with our state pension funds while looking for responsible ways to divest in companies that do business with Iran whenever possible.”
Meanwhile, treasurer of state Josh Mandel is co-chairing a national effort by a group called “Defund Iran” to keep state tax money from being invested in companies doing business with Iran. The treasurer plans to support a constitutional amendment to strengthen and codify divestment policies.
In 2007, STRS Ohio adopted an Iran-Sudan divestment policy in response to a legislative initiative that would have put such policies in statute. The legislation did not become law; instead, the Ohio legislature saw advantages to allowing pension systems to engage companies on the restricted trading list to try to enact change. STRS Ohio has adhered to its divestment policy and has reduced holding of corporations on the restricted list by nearly 90%.