Executive Director, JLens
Recent JLens News:
- Selected for The Slingshot List of Innovative Jewish Organizations
- Presented "Investing with Jewish Values" at JFNA Investment Institute
- Speaking on interfaith impact investing panels in Chicago and San Francisco
- Speaking on "New Strategies to Combat BDS" at JCPA Plenum
- Foundations, federations, pensions, nonprofits and donor-advised fund platforms in the Jewish community increase impact and next-gen engagement from JLens guidance on impact investing
JLens’ Public Testimony Opposing the City of Berkeley's Israel Divestment Resolution (September 16, 2015)
At the core of tonight’s resolution is an investment decision. My name is Julie Hammerman and I run JLens, a network of socially responsible Jewish investors. They care about the planet, so they invest in clean energy. They care about the homeless, so they invest in affordable housing. They care about peace and human rights, so they invest in solutions. They are too sophisticated to be fooled by the Israel divestment campaign.
Divesting from companies that do business with Israel does nothing to resolve the conflict. It doesn’t bring the parties together, it doesn’t create trust and compromise. Rather the divestment campaign discriminates against the Jewish side in a two-sided dispute. If BDS activists truly cared about human rights, they wouldn’t tell you to ignore the many countries in the world with significantly worse human rights concerns compared to Israel. If they cared about socially responsible investing, they wouldn’t tell you that the Israel divestment campaign is superior to the fossil fuel divestment campaign, as was noted in the materials for tonight’s meeting. BDS activists have co-opted the powerful platform of socially responsible investing and the tool of divestment for one purpose – to destroy Israel. The handful of Jews speaking in favor of divestment tonight do not compare to the millions of Jews who are sickened by continued efforts to discriminate against the Jewish people.
If Berkeley truly seeks peace, invest in Israeli-Palestinian business collaborations. If Berkeley cares about the Palestinians, invest in economic security, infrastructure, and job creation. If Berkeley cares about human rights, advocate with the companies you own to provide safe work, fair pay, and inclusive workplaces around the world. Berkeley can make a difference with your investments. But discriminatory campaigns against Jews, or anyone, is not in Berkeley’s DNA.
The BDS website Electronic Intifada summarized the decision to postpone the vote to consider positive investments, as suggested by JLens:
Commission chair Praveen Sood proposed adding language to the resolution about positive investment and shareholder activism. But many in attendance saw this as an attempt to water the resolution down. Members of the public urged the commission to vote on the resolution as it was, to take a stand in solidarity with Davila, and not bend to the intimidation to which she had been subjected. In the end, the commission voted to continue to work on the resolution to incorporate Sood’s suggestions and bring it back at their next meeting. One audience member raised his voice and said, “This is a completely different resolution than the one Davila proposed.” While Sood insisted he was moving Davila’s resolution forward, there was a palpable sense of disappointment among many as they left the room.
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