In its continuing efforts to educate members of the community regarding Israel and its neighbors, the Israel Advocacy Task Force of the Center for Israel and Overseas of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has embarked on a new initiative -- understanding the Iranian threat.
This particular threat is one that should concern Israelis and Americans alike.
The first event took place on June 11 at Har Zion synagogue in Penn Valley, where Frank Gaffney, the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., presented his divest terror project.
Gaffney believes that citizens should demand that public and private pensions plans, college endowments, individual retirement account managers, 401(k) plans and other investment vehicles with investments in publicly traded companies exploit their leverage against business firms that operate in terror-sponsoring states.
A united front makes a clear and unequivocal statement not to support terror in any shape or form.
Here in Pennsylvania during April, State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-District 153) introduced three bills that call for a multibillion dollar reorganizing of several Pennsylvania pension systems. These will force fund managers to divest from approximately 400 foreign-owned companies that have dealings with nations on the U.S. State Department list of states sponsors of terror (Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan and Cuba).
'Support Help Secure Passage'
Almost in chorus, State Rep. Babette Josephs (D-District 182) introduced her own, narrower bill aimed at halting what the U.S. government has called a genocide taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan. Both bills passed
As a result of the Gaffney event, Shapiro said that "Federation's support of my bill to require Pennsylvania to divest from Iran and other terrorist nations is critical. That support helped me secure passage of the bill in the House committee earlier this month, and will be crucial in making this law in our Commonwealth."
The above are examples of how the Jewish community is taking the Iranian threat seriously. Similar bills are being introduced throughout the country in a bipartisan fashion, with both Democrats and Republicans citing the Gaffney proposal as the correct course of action on Iran.
Nationally, one of the most innovative bills authored to date in the Divest Terror movement made its way through the Louisiana state legislature and was signed into law this week.
The Louisiana bill will allow for the creation of a terror-free investment index for international investments, becoming a tool available to the public to help institutional and perhaps even individual investors across the country.
In contrast to other states, the Louisiana pension systems took an active role drafting and supporting HB 864. The most notable help came from the Louisiana Sheriffs Pension and Relief Fund, and the Louisiana Firefighters Pension Fund. Both objected to their retirement funds being invested in terror-sponsoring states.
When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls over and over again for the State of Israel and its people to be wiped off the map, while at the same time encouraging attacks on America, we need to realize that he means what he says.
Let us not sit idly by and ignore these statements. Divesting from terror shows we are serious about not letting Ahmadinejad's calls come to life.
Asaf Romirowsky is manager of Israel & Middle East Affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.