Response to State of Ohio Purchase of Israeli Bonds

On March 1, 2013, the State of Ohio purchased $42 million in Israeli bonds, the largest single purchase of Israeli bonds in U.S. history. This purchase augments the total amount of Israeli bonds in the Ohio treasury portfolio to over $80 million. This enormous sum represents a massive investment on behalf of Ohio citizens, undertaken without our consent, in a state that regularly violates international law and human rights.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society put forth a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) declaration which calls “upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”

In 2010 Archbishop Desmond Tutu, historically a valiant fighter against apartheid in South Africa, proclaimed that with "great joy" he embraced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel because the system of apartheid there was so reminiscent of South Africa:

"I have been to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli military checkpoints routinely when trying to make the most basic of trips to visit relatives or attend school or college, and this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government."

In the same year, a group of over sixty church leaders and theologians from South Africa released a statement condemning Israeli apartheid:

"From our own experience of apartheid, we can clearly and without equivocation say that your situation is in essence the same as apartheid and in its practical manifestation even worse than South African apartheid."

One year prior, the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa published an extensive report which concluded that "Israel has introduced a system of apartheid in the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories], in violation of a peremptory norm of international law." Likewise, South African dock workers took up the cause of anti-apartheid struggle by refusing to unload ships carrying Israeli cargo in response to Israel's 2008-2009 assault on Gaza, a massacre which stole the lives of 1,300 Palestinians, a third of which were children, and injured 5,300 more.

In 2011, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel published a report documenting that "more than 30 main laws discriminate, directly or indirectly, against Palestinian citizens of Israel" and "Inequalities between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel span all fields of public life and have persisted over time."

In light of this, the recent purchase of Israeli bonds by the state of Ohio, in direct contravention of the international divestment movement, shames the state of Ohio and poorly reflects upon the character of Ohio’s citizenry who strive for justice and equality. To rectify this grave injustice, we demand that the State of Ohio remove from its portfolio the entirety of its $80 million in Israeli bonds and refuse to invest in the state of Israel while it continues to violate international law and human rights in Palestine.

The Undersigned

Endorsing organizations (Ohio):

Cincinnati Palestine Solidarity Coalition
Free Gaza Coalition of Northeast Ohio
International Socialist Organization - Cincinnati
International Socialist Organization - Columbus
International Socialist Organization - Toledo
Green Party of Ohio
The Hampton Institute
Kent State University Students for Justice in Palestine
Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition
Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine
Oberlin Peace Activist League
Ohio State University Committee for Justice in Palestine
Ohio University Students for Justice in Palestine and Israel
Lourdes Arab American Student Association
Lucas County Green Party
University of Toledo Arab Student Union
University of Toledo Muslim Student Association
University of Toledo Students for Justice in Palestine
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Toledo)

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