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New Jersey Bans Business with Danish Bank for Israel Boycott

Benjamin Weinthal
24th December 2017 - The Jerusalem Post

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced on Wednesday at a menorah-lighting ceremony that the state has divested all of its investments from the Danish bank Danske due to its boycott of Israeli companies.

“We are pleased to share that this week our organization secured a major victory in New Jersey in the fight against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel and/or Israeli entities,” the Israeli-American Coalition for Action wrote. “This win was achieved by a new department in the IAC for Action, which is focused on enforcing anti-BDS legislation at the state and local level.”

“The IAC for Action has started a new and unique initiative, working closely with state and local governments to ensure that anti-BDS legislation is implemented efficiently and effectively once it is signed into law,” the pro-Israel group said. “Our recent activity in New Jersey and across the country has made clear that the information about companies engaging in BDS will be shared with the relevant authorities, who will face the legal consequences of their discriminatory activities.”

Dankse, the largest bank in Denmark with a customer base of over 3.5 million people, blacklisted two Israeli defense companies, Aryt Industries and Elbit Systems, from its customer investments.

Thomas Hyldahl Kjærgaard, the bank’s head of responsible investments, told the Post at the time that “Danske Bank does not boycott Israel or Israeli companies as such, and we do not take part in the so-called BDS campaign targeting Israel.”

Elbit Systems announced on Tuesday it secured a $46 million contract to supply directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) self-protection systems to NATO.

The IAC said it “identified that the state of New Jersey had investments in Danske Bank, which engages in a boycott of Israeli entities. We brought this issue to the attention of the state authorities, providing a range of information over several months to regulators, which made them aware of the bank’s boycott activities targeting Israel and/or Israeli entities.”

New Jersey’s Division of Investment and State Investment Council, which is part of the New Jersey Treasury Department, oversees the enforcement of the anti-BDS law. Christie signed the anti-BDS legislation into law in 2016.

The law bans New Jersey from investing in companies that engage in BDS.

Danske is facing growing pressure from US states to end its role in the, what some call, antisemitic BDS campaign targeting the Jewish state.

New York State outlawed state business with Danske because of a violation to its anti-BDS law. In September, Colorado added Danske to a blacklist for its anti-Israel business activities.

According to a Jerusalem Post source, Illinois is considering the inclusion of Danske on its list of companies that state entities are prohibited from doing business with.

IAC added that it “engaged other members of the Jewish community and New Jersey lawmakers to ensure that the state pays close attention to the information about Danske Bank’s conduct. This effort was a remarkable success, due to New Jersey’s civic leadership and lawmakers.”

A Post request for comment from Danske on Sunday was not immediately answered.

Danske has entered the Iranian financial market and reportedly signed agreements with a number of Iranian banks.

According to a Forbes business article in September, Danske Bank signed a €500m. finance contract with 10 Iranian banks, including Bank Sepah. Germany’s government imposed a credit ban sanction on Bank Sepah this year, which has a history of involvement in Iran’s missile industry.

The US classifies Iran’s regime as the leading state-sponsor of terrorism.

“This is a major win in the fight against BDS, and sends a strong message to companies around the world that are considering engaging in the hateful BDS campaign,” wrote the IAC.

Benjamin Weinthal is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD.

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