Judge rules against Minnesota ‘Break the Bonds’ campaign

ActivismUS Politics
on 50 Comments
MNBBC
Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign, Day on the Hill, 2011. (Photo: Ziyaad)

As we filed out of the courtroom, my colleague leaned toward me and said “we have a good judge.” Nothing that I heard in that room gave me any such indication, but my friend has spent thousands of hours in front of many different judges and knew how to read them. “She asked the defense attorney about the Geneva Conventions,” he continued, “and of course the defense attorney had no good answer for that.”

Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign (MN BBC) is part of the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It is a statewide campaign to break Minnesota’s economic ties with Israel, and along with its legislative and educational work, it had filed a lawsuit against the State Board of Investment (SBI), charging that the SBI had illegally invested Minnesota’s taxpayer money in Israel bonds. The three counts of the lawsuit charged that the investments are illegal because 1) Minnesota statutes Section 11A.24, specifically prohibit investments in non-Canadian foreign government securities, 2) by investing in projects that violate the Fourth Geneva Convention Minnesota violates its own and the US Constitution, which says that all treaties ratified by the federal government are the law of the land, and 3) the investments expose Minnesota taxpayers and pensioners to potential lawsuits by individuals who have been harmed by those illegal and abusive practices. (Read the full text of the lawsuit here [PDF].)

mn bbc logo
(Image: MN BBC)

If your eyes, like mine, glaze over when reading legal writing, it is worth it to read the stories about each of the 27 plaintiffs at the beginning of the complaint. And here are two summaries of the lawsuit written before the judge’s ruling: here and here

Although we had a solid legal case, the fact that the subject of this lawsuit is Israel means that logic and a solid legal basis get tossed out of the conversation. The only consideration is about the next election or being labeled an anti-Semite. We did not expect to win in court; we knew that struggles for human rights take many years and endure many setbacks. We were prepared for such a setback and prepared to maximize our efforts to educate as many Minnesotans as possible about Israeli human rights abuses and international law violations.

The judge’s question about the Geneva Conventions was meaningful, because MN BBC had used Israel’s violations of them and the U.S. State Department’s acknowledgment of those violations, as evidence bolstering counts two and three. The State’s defense only mentioned that foreign policy was not a State function. Asking this question made it clear that the judge understood that investments in projects that violate international treaties which the US has ratified are illegal.
With my colleague’s short declaration, I actually allowed myself to imagine that we might win this lawsuit. A victory in a courtroom would have sent a nice message to those tireless purveyors of pro-Israeli propaganda, those people who never pass up an opportunity to talk about the “only democracy in the Middle East” as though people aren’t beginning to question that statement…as though they only need to repeat it a few more times until the hypnosis takes effect again.

A victory would have been a nice message to those Israel supporters, who did a good job of packing the small courtroom… until supporters of MN BBC began arriving en masse. By the time the hearing began, MN BBC supporters outnumbered Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) supporters about two to one. The courtroom was crowded, with standing room only, and the judge allowed some of those standing in the rear to sit in the jury box.

But a victory would not have meant that we could take a break from our work. Regardless of the outcome, we must redouble our efforts with legislators, media, church groups, and school groups. We must reach out to environmental, indigenous rights, democracy advocates, and racial justice groups – just as we have been doing. A victory would have meant that there is no time to waste, since an appeal would most certainly be forthcoming from the JCRC supporters. Our legal team would have had to scramble.

A victory would have been short but sweet. Perhaps there would have been more media attention – always the difficulty in this issue. We have always had enormous obstacles when it comes to media. Although there has been a noticeable increase in coverage of the Palestinian side of the story recently, it is still a struggle to convince mainstream media to publish our stories. We have to continue these efforts.
My friend said that the judge’s request of the lawyers for the plaintiffs and the defense to prepare proposed orders for her, and to deliver them both in printed form and in Word document form, was another good sign. That meant, he said, that she was going to cut and paste her ruling from the lawyers’ proposed orders. He sounded so sure that she would cut and paste our side’s orders rather than the defense’s side.

Yet she chose the arguments of the state. The judge ruled that 1) the plaintiffs lack standing to sue; 2) that the SBI is authorized by statute to purchase government bonds, including those of Israel; 3) that the argument regarding Israel is a political one, and not for state courts; and 4) that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim of aiding and abetting human rights abuses against the SBI. These were the defense’s proposed orders verbatim, copied and pasted, without analysis or discussion.
This is the real disappointment of the ruling. We have all been working hard for justice and many of us have taken significant personal risks for this cause. Because of her question about the Geneva Conventions, the judge had seemed to show an understanding of the issues, including the oppression against the Palestinians; and she seemed to understand how Minnesota is complicit in the oppression and human rights abuses. She could have made a powerful statement on the side of justice and human rights. Yet she chose to make the politically correct career move. This choice was highlighted by some of the judge’s own past writing about judicial independence from special interest groups, and her involvement in protecting vulnerable adults (see profile). Once again we see that protection of human rights is always “safe” and “commendable” unless the human rights that one is trying to protect are those of Palestinians.

For those of us in MN BBC, the ruling changes nothing. We still enthusiastically support the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for BDS. We will continue to work for justice, and this work will continue on many fronts: legal, legislative, and educational. And we are firm in the knowledge that changes in public awareness and understanding will eventually allow more elected officials to take courageous stances in favor of human rights and justice.

50 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    April 21, 2012, 2:41 pm

    sad. we have to keep plugging away. thanks for the report sylvia. huge shout out to everyone who’s been working so hard in minnesota.

    • Hostage
      April 22, 2012, 9:09 am

      The Supreme Court and the Congress have deliberately limited the applicability of
      the Geneva Conventions. In many cases their domestic enforcement has been left solely to those responsible for violating them. The government’s practice is aimed at reversing or altering landmark decisions on the customary law embodied in the Conventions. Customary law had formerly been viewed as an integral part of the law of the United States which is binding upon the judges in every state.

      The War Crimes Act criminalized violations of many of the Hague and Geneva Convention rules, but it does not create a private right of action. The Torture Victim Protection Act created a private right of action, but only against natural persons, not against any of the State parties to the Geneva Conventions.

      The Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in time of War article 5, 75 U.N.T.S. 287, Oct. 21, 1950 mentions the “full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention”. Our Courts have ruled that the Geneva Conventions create private rights, but no private right of action. See Tel-Oren v. Libyan Arab Republic, 726 F.2d 774, 808-09 (D.C. Cir. 1984) and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 415 F.3d 33, 40 (D.C. Cir. 2005)

      The Supreme Court said “Even when treaties are self-executing in the sense that they create federal law, the background presumption is that international agreements, even those directly benefiting private persons, generally do not create private rights or provide for a private cause of action in domestic courts.” — Medellín v. Texas, 128 Supreme Court, 1346, 1357 n.3 (2008).

      The Bush era Congress adopted the rather sinister Military Commission Act of 2006 which contained provisions that immunized government officers and agents for violations of the Geneva Conventions, e.g. “the Geneva Conventions are not judicially enforceable in any court of the United States”); 152 Cong. Rec. S10354-02, S10400 (daily ed. Sept. 28, 2006) (statement of Sen. Kennedy) (“[T]he bill expressly states that the Geneva Conventions cannot be relied upon in any U.S. court as a source of rights.”); id. at S10414 (statement of Sen. McCain) (“[This legislation] would eliminate any private right of action against our personnel based on a violation of the Geneva Conventions.”). See Noriega v. Pastrana FCI, United States Court of Appeals,Eleventh Circuit, No. 08-1102 (2009) link to caselaw.findlaw.com

      • unverified__0142ihb5
        April 22, 2012, 4:11 pm

        This is an interesting legal discussion, but not altogether applicable to the declaratory relief complaint that MN BBC filed that alleged 1) MN was breaking its own state investment statute that limited investments in foreign governmental bonds to Canadian bonds payable in US dollars, 2) MN was breaking its own state investment statute that required all investments to be “lawful” and that investments that facilitate violations of customary international law (embodied by various treaties and conventions like the Geneva Convention) were not lawful (See the Supreme Court’s Hamdan decision that similarly applied the Geneva Convention through the mechanism of the UCMJ), and 3) MN’s investment agency was violating its statutory fiduciary duty imposed by state law by financially facilitating customary international law violations exposing MN to aiding and abetting Alien Tort Statute liability under more recent and developing caselaw. (See the Ninth Circuit’s recent en banc decision in Sarei v. Rio Tinto). This was not a lawsuit that asserted a private cause of action based directly on a violation of the Geneva Convention.
        The court avoided addressing many of the international law-tinged issues by ruling against the plaintiffs on standing and invoking the mystical “political question” doctrine. It’s fairly easy to discern why the court ruled as it did. It’s better politically to get reversed on appeal having stood up for the interests of Israel than to get reversed on appeal having stood up for the trampled human rights under international law of the Palestinians.

        • Fredblogs
          April 22, 2012, 10:58 pm

          Actually, it’s because it is better to get reversed on appeal for following precedent than for breaking it. If you follow the rules as they are and get reversed on appeal, it’s because the appeal’s court decided to overturn precedent and change the rules. Nobody who understands law faults a judge for getting overturned by an appeals court or supreme court that is changing the rules on him. OTOH, get overturned for not following the rules, then you look like and idiot and the appeals court will often say so (in more diplomatic terms).

          They had no standing. It was not a close call. These guys weren’t tagged at the plate, they were tagged 3 feet from the batter’s box on their way to first base. They were obviously hoping the judge would overlook standing. If he had, he would have committed reversible error.

        • Hostage
          April 23, 2012, 9:52 am

          This is an interesting legal discussion, but not altogether applicable to the declaratory relief complaint that MN BBC filed that alleged . . .

          Yes. The main article addressees that. I was discussing the difficulty of enforcing treaties and customary international law in the domestic courts.

          financially facilitating customary international law violations exposing MN to aiding and abetting Alien Tort Statute liability under more recent and developing caselaw. (See the Ninth Circuit’s recent en banc decision in Sarei v. Rio Tinto).

          The Minnesota statute allows for investments in either government or corporate obligations. Sarei dealt with a limited liability company. ATS applies to individual state officials, but not to the sovereign acts of foreign states like issuing debt instruments. The 8th Circuit hasn’t addressed the question of corporate liability under the ATS. I’ve commented on the split between the Districts on that issue before: link to mondoweiss.net

          The last time the issue came-up in the Supreme Court, in the South African apartheid case, the Justices couldn’t muster a quorum due to conflicts of interest (stock holdings in the corporate petitioners). So the case was allowed to proceed in the lower court.
          link to bloomberg.com

          *The Second Circuit decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum held that corporations can’t be held liable for violations of customary international law under the ATS.
          *The DC Circuit disagreed. In its decision on Doe v. Exxon-Mobil it held that corporations can be liable, but in Ali Shafi v. Palestinian Authority it held that non-state actors may not be held liable under the ATS.
          *The Eleventh Circuit decision in Romero v. Drummond held that corporations can be held liable.
          *The Ninth Circuit agreed that corporations may be held liable in its Bauman v. Daimler Chrysler Corp decision.

        • Underdog
          April 25, 2012, 10:30 pm

          Fredblogs has obviously not read the complaint that alleges standing on the basis of MN law, unlike federal law. MN law gives standing to taxpayers to challenge the expenditure of public funds by a state agency on the basis of illegality. If MN BBCC chooses to appeal, which it should, having read the briefs at the MN BBC website and the judge’s decision, the court’s failure to acknowledge MN Supreme Court authority directly on point should result in an easy reversal, at least as to that point. There is no other rational justification for the court ignoring black letter MN law on taxpayer standing other than the the “Israel factor” which has poisoned honest debate and decisionmaking in America’s public institutions, including the courts. Fredblog’s comments are the standard regurgitated hasbara pablum of standing with Israel despite the law and the facts. Read the briefs and the complaint and then see if you can then offer an intelligent comment.

  2. DICKERSON3870
    April 21, 2012, 4:16 pm

    NEWSPEAK: “Victory through defeat!”
    Ergo, defeat is victory!
    Consequently, we won (“y’all”)!
    Hip Hip Hooray!
    Hip Hip Hooray!
    Hip Hip Hooray!
    Now it is time for our two minutes of mandatory hate.
    Should anyone not enthusiastically and wholeheartedly participate, the repercussions will be most severe! MOST SEVERE!

    � ON YouTube: BBC Television’s live production of George Orwell’s “NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR”. Produced in 1954. (VIDEO, 1:47:30)
    • LINK – link to youtube.com
    • ALTERNATE LINK – link to youtube.com

    P.S.
    • ALSO OF INTEREST: Wunschkonzert & Blinkfeuer Heimat.wmv (VIDEO, 05:24) – link to youtube.com

    • LASTLY: A photo of the device that allowed Goebbels to interrupt all German radio programming to make an announcement – link to germanpropaganda.blogspot.com

    • DICKERSON3870
      April 21, 2012, 4:41 pm

      P.S. RE: “Wunschkonzert & Blinkfeuer Heimat” ~ me, above

      GOOGLE TRANSLATION: Request Concert & flashing lights home
      FREE TRANSLATION: Wish concert & blink fire homeland
      (Google translation) The request program for the armed forces was the most popular broadcast of broadcasting in Nazi Germany. The three-hour concert was until 1941 in the winter half-year broadcast twice weekly from the House of Broadcasting in Berlin from the large concert hall of all German stations and should reach the German soldiers on all fronts. With the supposed connection between “home and the front should be above all the perseverance will of the people and the soldiers strengthened and be distracted by the war everyday. propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who was always directly involved in the preparation of the program, gave precise guidelines for the flagship of the ” Great German Radio before “. Just as important as guns and rifles are upbeat songs and life-affirming and heart-uplifting music tears dripping pathos manifested as in the songs of bassist William Strienz (“Good night, Mother,” home, your star) and the moderation of presenters, especially Heinz Goedecke, when he said goodbye at the end of the request concert ever at 19.27 clock from the audience: “The Wehrmacht Request Concert is coming to an end, the home ranges of the front now their hands, the front reaches her home now the hand . We say: Good night, good-bye, until we come back the next time, goodbye!

      • DICKERSON3870
        April 21, 2012, 5:13 pm

        P.S.
        I.F. STONE (1967): “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out. ~ from In a Time of Torment, 1961-1967 (1967), p. 317
        SOURCE – link to en.wikiquote.org

        FILM: Downfall (Der Untergang), 2004, R, 156 minutes
        After introducing audiences to Adolf Hitler’s stenographer, Traudl Junge, in the gripping documentary Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary, director Oliver Hirschbiegel brings Junge to life, re-creating Hitler’s final 12 days in his Berlin bunker.
        Cast: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes…
        Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
        Language: German (English subtitles)
        Netflix Availability: Streaming and DVD
        Netflix listing – link to movies.netflix.com
        Downfall, trailer and famous bunker scene HD (VIDEO, 06:23) – link to youtube.com

  3. Clif Brown
    April 21, 2012, 5:58 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about this. Here in Illinois, the state continues to buy Israel debt (and that of no other country) each year. My state senator Jeff Schoenberg pushed through the legislation years ago that allows state purchase of foreign debt, which has been used with only a few exceptions to purchase Israel debt only. Schoenberg is retiring. The man who hopes to replace him, Daniel Biss, has remained silent to my emailed request to him to indicate his position on Israel.

    Israel is a beneficiary of so much behind the scenes activity like this that the public doesn’t know about (tax deductible contributions to settlement support groups, etc.)

    My email to the members of the Illinois Board of Investments has also gone unanswered, but every attempt should be made to let people know that there is an awareness of what is going on.

    • Fredblogs
      April 22, 2012, 10:49 pm

      That’s probably because Israel always pays its debts. They are also one of a very few countries that the U.S. has lent money to that have always paid it back.

      • Sumud
        April 23, 2012, 2:38 am

        That’s probably because Israel always pays its debts

        Apparently not if my understanding is current.

        As well as the billions in annual grants, Israel’s loans are waived before they need to be paid back (from WRMEA):

        Further, friends of Israel never tire of saying that Israel has never defaulted on repayment of a U.S. government loan. It would be equally accurate to say Israel has never been required to repay a U.S. government loan. The truth of the matter is complex, and designed to be so by those who seek to conceal it from the U.S. taxpayer.

        Most U.S. loans to Israel are forgiven, and many were made with the explicit understanding that they would be forgiven before Israel was required to repay them. By disguising as loans what in fact were grants, cooperating members of Congress exempted Israel from the U.S. oversight that would have accompanied grants. On other loans, Israel was expected to pay the interest and eventually to begin repaying the principal. But the so-called Cranston Amendment, which has been attached by Congress to every foreign aid appropriation since 1983, provides that economic aid to Israel will never dip below the amount Israel is required to pay on its outstanding loans. In short, whether U.S. aid is extended as grants or loans to Israel, it never returns to the Treasury.
        True Lies About U.S. Aid to Israel

        The article is from 1997 so the situation may well have changed since then, but I doubt it. Can you cite some source which outlines some dates and amounts when Israel has made repayments to the US Treasury? Surely this will be in Israel’s annual budget.

        Thanks.

        • Fredblogs
          April 23, 2012, 3:39 am

          It’s not so much that it is from 1997 as that it comes from an anti-Israel propaganda site that bothers me. Come up with a less bigoted source. Like the KKK or something. (kidding about the KKK, serious about find a less bigoted source).

          link to onlyinisrael.blogspot.com

          As for the author, Richard H. Curtiss, he has also worked for the holocaust denial organization the Institute for Historical Review. So he’s going to work for Holocaust deniers then suddenly turn around and tell the truth about Israel? I don’t think so.

          link to adl.org

        • Sumud
          April 23, 2012, 4:31 am

          Fredblogs ~ it is YOU who made the statement that Israel has paid all it’s outstanding debts to the US.

          I presume you are basing that on something…?

          Can you provide any evidence to support your claim, or are you just going to try to change the subject by claiming anti-semitism and holocaust denial…?

        • Hostage
          April 23, 2012, 9:32 am

          It’s not so much that it is from 1997 as that it comes from an anti-Israel propaganda site that bothers me.

          The same facts can be independently verified from the reports of the Congressional Research Service. There have been numerous US commercial loan guarantees to prop-up Israel’s credit ratings with the national ratings agencies; loans for which repayment has been waived; the “Cranston Amendment” which gave Israel economic assistance equal in amount to its annual debt payments to the US; and other “special benefits” for Israel. link to fas.org

        • Fredblogs
          April 23, 2012, 11:38 am

          If they can, then cite chapter and verse. If you can’t then quit citing anti-Israel, Saudi backed “reporters” who would say anything they could to hurt Israel.

        • Hostage
          April 23, 2012, 12:45 pm

          If they can, then cite chapter and verse. If you can’t then quit citing anti-Israel, Saudi backed “reporters” who would say anything they could to hurt Israel.

          I did better than that, I gave the readers a link to the entire Congressional Research Service report: link to fas.org

          FYI, even the Nizkor Project warns against the use of genetic fallacies, like the ones you’re employing here, e.g. link to nizkor.org

        • Fredblogs
          April 23, 2012, 2:56 pm

          That’s not so much better as it is a complete waste of time. What you basically did there was say “I’m right, the proof is in one of these articles somewhere in this encyclopedia”. Ask your parents if you don’t know what an encyclopedia is.

          Oh, and that’s not the genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy would be like “America was born from terrorist rebellion against the Brits, therefore America must always be terrorists”. Or more directly, “your father was a criminal therefore you must be a criminal”. The idea that the start of something leads to that thing always being that way. This is just common sense that if your source is a holocaust denying, dishonest magazine, that your source’s rants against Israel are unreliable.

        • Sumud
          April 23, 2012, 4:13 pm

          If you can’t then quit citing anti-Israel, Saudi backed “reporters” who would say anything they could to hurt Israel.

          So I’ll take that as a no then; you can’t provide any evidence to back up your statement about Israel paying back loans to the US.

          As expected.

          Not good for your credibility Fredblogs – and in cyberspace your credibility is all you have.

        • tree
          April 23, 2012, 5:26 pm

          That’s not so much better as it is a complete waste of time. What you basically did there was say “I’m right, the proof is in one of these articles somewhere in this encyclopedia”.

          So, 17 pages is an “encyclopedia” to you, Fred? That’s how long the CRS report is. Who knew you were such a lazy reader. Here’s some spoon feeding for you:

          Loans with Repayment Waived

          The United States has not canceled any of Israel’s debts to the U.S. government, but the U.S. government has waived repayment of aid to Israel that originally was categorized as loans. Following the 1973 war, President Nixon asked Congress for emergency aid for Israel, including loans for which repayment would be waived. Israel preferred that the aid be in the form of loans, rather than grants, to avoid having a U.S. military contingent in Israel to oversee a grant program. Since 1974, some or all of U.S. military aid to Israel has been in the form of loans for which repayment is waived. Technically, the assistance is called loans, but as a practical matter, the military aid is grant. From FY1974 through FY2003, Israel has received more than $45 billion in waived loans. (Egypt also receives some of its U.S. military assistance in the form of loans with repayment waived. In 1990, the United States canceled $6.7 billion in past military debts that Egypt owed to the United States.)

          from page 6, easily found through a skim of the table of contents.

          Also from page 6:

          “Cranston Amendment”
          The Cranston Amendment, named after its Senate sponsor, was added to the foreign aid legislation in 1984 (Section 534, P.L. 98-473) and was repeated each year in the annual aid appropriation bill through FY1998 (Section 517 of H.R. 2159, P.L. 105-118). The Cranston amendment was not repeated in the FY1999 appropriations, H.R. 4328, P.L. 105-277, and was not repeated in subsequent appropriations bills. The amendment stated that it was “the policy and the intention” of the United States to provide Israel with economic assistance “not less than” the amount Israel owed the United States in annual debt service payments (principal and interest). For 1998, Israel received $1.2 billion in ESF and owed the U.S. government about $328 million in debt service for direct loans, so it was apparent that the Cranston Amendment was no longer needed. The Cranston amendment was a statement of U.S. policy and intent and may not have been binding. Contingent liabilities — guaranteed loans, such as housing guarantees, the $10 billion for immigrant settlement, or the $9 billionfor economic recovery — apparently were not included under the Cranston amendment because the debts were not owed to the U.S. government.

          It took me longer to write this than it did to find the quotes from Hostage’s link. You can be incredibly lazy when you don’t want to know the answer, Fred.

        • tree
          April 23, 2012, 5:34 pm

          So, now that the answer has been spoonfed to you, are you grown-up enough to admit that when you said:

          “That’s probably because Israel always pays its debts. They are also one of a very few countries that the U.S. has lent money to that have always paid it back.”

          …that you were speaking out of ignorance and now know that your statement was false?

          Or do you want to allege that the truth is anti-semitic?

        • tree
          April 23, 2012, 5:53 pm

          Or more directly, “your father was a criminal therefore you must be a criminal”.

          Which is exactly the kind of logical fallacy YOUR biased source, “onlyinisrael” used, Fred.

          The easiest thing would be to look at the people who make that magazine. Just at a first look the name of Laila Al-Arian pops up. That ought to ring a bell. You see, her father, Sami Al-Arian is the leader of the Islamic Jihad in the US. He’s currently in court for directing funds and leading the Palestinian Islamic Jihad

          And the rest is similar in vein. That’s what Hostage was pointing out to you. Apparently you don’t even bother to read your own sources.

        • Fredblogs
          April 23, 2012, 5:58 pm

          No, I’m saying that everybody knows Israel always pays back its loans and all you’ve got is a non-credible holocaust deniers site that says otherwise. You haven’t brought in evidence rising to the level of “worth the hassle” of disproving it. I’m also not going to prove for you that the Holocaust happened, despite your source denying it.

        • Hostage
          April 23, 2012, 8:26 pm

          Ask your parents if you don’t know what an encyclopedia is.

          I gave you a link to a Congressional Research Service report and cited specific examples from its table of contents. If you think its an encyclopedia, I hope your parents are still looking out for you and making all of your important decisions for you.

          And yes, you certainly are engaging in a genetic fallacy when you claim that WRMEA magazine can’t pass along facts that are verifiable and available from open government sources, like the CRS report.

        • Fredblogs
          April 23, 2012, 8:31 pm

          Thanks, now that you’ve properly identified the specifics of what you are talking about, we can proceed to, if it was waived from the beginning, it’s not a loan, regardless of what accounting tricks are played by the U.S. when it gives Israel the money. A loan that the lender never intends to collect is a gift, not a loan.

          As for the $328 million in debt service, let me guess, Israel paid it back. Whether the gifts from the U.S. exceeded the debt service is irrelevant to whether any real loans (as opposed to gifts characterized as loans for accounting purposes) were paid back, since not paying it back would have meant Israel kept all the grant money, rather than using some of it to pay back its loans.

          It’s like if you work for a bank that you owe money to. They pay you more than your debt service, then you use some of it to pay back the debt service to the bank. The U.S. gives Israel money in exchange for Israel maintaining a military presence in the Middle East that is allied with the U.S. and that the U.S. would otherwise have to pay far more to maintain (if Israel weren’t there).

        • Mooser
          April 23, 2012, 9:28 pm

          Gosh Fredblogs, every time I think of the number of Jewish kids reading this blog who read this thread and say: “I want to grow to be just like Fredblogs! The same intellectual rigor! The same standards, and most of all, the same manners.
          I hate to say it, but it’s going to be all uphill work for Mondoweiss when guys like Fredrocks are around to show Jewish youth just how scintillating, and how interleckshaul, Zionists can be.

  4. pabelmont
    April 22, 2012, 8:54 am

    States and Cities supporting Israel? Well, BDS is politics, and if we can (attempt to) “do” food coops, we can attempt to do States and Cities. It is all education. Here’s little Israel, existing on handouts from USA as far as one can see, and ready to default on all these bonds if it “goes down.” So the USA and Cities and States are in “hock” and have a financial interest (?!) to preserve Israel — by spending ever more money fruitlessly — against “going down” so these debts will not also go down. Here is little Israel, too small to fail, being supported by ALL America because a few Zionist big-spenders (AIPAC et al) control the MEDIA and the GOVERNMENTS. Nothing much new here.

    • edward
      April 22, 2012, 12:19 pm

      Israel stands for the rejection of law and every other principle associated with Western civilization. It is built on totally different plan, as a vehicle for realizing some obscure destiny involving Jews most centrally and others only very peripherally.

      Law, by contrast, aspires to universality. It does not depend on relationships of blood. It is founded on a “decent respect” and “consent of the governed”, not some most likely spurious account of doings thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, these days the rule of law seems much less hardy than the tribal alternative. At this stage the trend is to jettison whatever legal principles might conflict with the building of Israel and the un-building of everything else. It’s like a tower of Babel that everyone must work on, or better yet a Great Pyramid on which we’re all forced to labor at pain of severe penalties. Will it ever be high enough ?

  5. W.Jones
    April 22, 2012, 12:52 pm

    I understand there were alot of issues in the case, like whether the Plaintiffs had standing to sue. But assuming they did, I think it is pretty strong that

    “Minnesota statutes Section 11A.24, specifically prohibit investments in non-Canadian foreign government securities”.

    That seems to go pretty strong against the judge’s/government’s decision/claim “that the SBI is authorized by statute to purchase government bonds, including those of Israel”.

    • Fredblogs
      April 22, 2012, 10:40 pm

      ” The state board may invest funds in governmental bonds, notes, bills, mortgages, and other evidences of indebtedness provided the issue is backed by the full faith and credit of the issuer or the issue is rated among the top four quality rating categories by a nationally recognized rating agency.”

      The statute goes on to say that what can be invested in “include guaranteed or insured issues of (a) the United States, its agencies, its instrumentalities, or organizations created and regulated by an act of Congress; (b) Canada and its provinces, provided the principal and interest is payable in United States dollars;” also (c) U.S. states and cities, and (d) various banks.

      link to revisor.leg.state.mn.us

      The plaintiffs were not even close. I’m surprised the court didn’t sanction them if they actually said that that statute does not authorize any foreign bonds except Canadian.

      I can’t see how any honest reading of the statute says that the SBI isn’t authorized to purchase Israeli bonds (as long as those bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of Israel, or highly rated by a rating agency).

      For those unfamiliar with statutes, let’s analogize. The rule is “You can eat any animal, including fish”. Does that mean you can only eat fish?

      • Hostage
        April 23, 2012, 8:10 am

        I can’t see how any honest reading of the statute says that the SBI isn’t authorized to purchase Israeli bonds (as long as those bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of Israel, or highly rated by a rating agency).

        The section of the statute on corporate obligations is limited to investments in US and Canadian corporations in which the principle and interest are payable in US dollars. It appears that is also the intent of the section on government obligations. The examples of permitted investments cited in the section on government obligations are limited to rated instruments which are payable in US dollars; or instruments issued by a United States government sponsored organization of which the United States is a member, provided the principal and interest is payable in United States dollars. The Minnesota statute doesn’t create a private right of action.

        FYI, the “full faith and credit” clause contained in Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution does not apply to Israel. That clause only applies to obligations arising from public acts and judgements of our own State governments here in the US. In any event, the Congress is granted the power to adopt general laws that establish proof of the reliability of the acts, records, and judgments of a State. The observance of human rights and the Geneva Conventions is a principle foreign policy goal of the US government, e.g. See 22 USC § 2304 (a) and 18 USC § 2441. The official State Department position is that the Geneva Conventions do apply to the occupied Palestinian territory.

        The political question in this case would have to involve the unenumerated powers of the political branches of the Minnesota government for which they are only answerable to their particular political constituencies, not “foreign relations”. That’s one of the acts prohibited of the States under Article 1 section 10 the US Constitution. That’s why the judges in the States are explicitly bound by treaties under the terms of the Supremacy clause of the US Constitution.

        • Fredblogs
          April 23, 2012, 11:28 am

          Full faith and credit is a term applicable to any country. It doesn’t mean that the U.S. courts have to credit them, but it just means that they are backing it with their good name. Currency and bonds of countries are often backed by the Full faith and credit of that country.

          link to books.google.com

          See “soverign risk” in that link.

          Israel bonds are rated A+ by Standard and Poor’s. Ratings go AAA AA+ AA- A+. Israeli bonds have fourth highest possible rating, read the statute. So even if you were right about full faith and credit applying only to the U.S. states (which you are not) if they count Standard and Poor’s as a “nationally recognized” rating agency (which I’m sure they do)… hurdle jumped. The part of the statute on corporate bonds is separate from and different from the one on governmental bonds. The “intent” of one of them isn’t applicable to the other one where the plain language of that section of the statute contradicts it.

        • Hostage
          April 23, 2012, 12:59 pm

          Currency and bonds of countries are often backed by the Full faith and credit of that country.

          It means that another state’s acts, obligations, and judgments are enforceable in state courts or that a currency is legal tender for payment of debts, e.g. link to law.cornell.edu

          Your link to Google books doesn’t establish that Israel’s acts, obligations, or judgments are enforceable in the courts of Minnesota or that its currency is legal tender, now does it?

          Israel bonds are rated A+ by Standard and Poor’s. Ratings go AAA AA+ AA- A+. Israeli bonds have fourth highest possible rating, read the statute.

          There are plenty of US statutes which authorize the US government to guarantee Israel’s commercial obligations, e.g. P.L. 100-202. Should I read those too?

        • Fredblogs
          April 23, 2012, 3:06 pm

          No, the full faith and credit _clause _ of the U.S. Constitution means that. The term “full faith and credit” itself has wider application. All it means in this context is that if any country issued the bonds, backed by that country’s good name, then Minnesota can buy them. Currency from Switzerland is backed by the full faith and credit of Switzerland, that doesn’t make it legal tender in the U.S. However, a statute that said “Minnesota can buy any currency backed by the full faith and credit of a government” would authorize them to buy Swiss currency (if so backed).

          Read the part of the statute I quoted, if the whole thing is too much for you. Minnesota can buy foreign bonds if “the issue is rated among the top four quality rating categories by a nationally recognized rating agency”. Israeli government bonds are rated among the top four quality ratings etc. Therefore Minnesota is authorized by the statute to buy Israeli bonds. Q.E.D.

        • Fredblogs
          April 23, 2012, 3:07 pm

          BTW, you aren’t one of their lawyers are you? Because that would explain a whole lot about this case.

        • Fredblogs
          April 23, 2012, 3:25 pm

          What you aren’t understanding is that the term “full faith and credit” means that something is enforceable by and against the government that is giving its full faith and credit to the obligation, or legal ruling, or whatever. The full faith and credit clause of the U.S. says that Minnesota has to give _Minnesota’s_ full faith and credit to the judgments, marriages, etc. of other states, just like it gives its FFAC to acts of Minnesota courts. It doesn’t mean that only the states can give full faith and credit to their own acts, just that Minnesotan full faith and credit applies only to acts by the states. Any country can give full faith and credit to whatever obligations and court judgments they choose to, and when they issue bonds based on it, it means that the bonds are enforceable in that country against that country.

          So in short, the statute doesn’t require that Minnesota give Minnesota’s FFAC to the bonds, only that the issuing government give that government’s FFAC to the bonds.

          Even a nations FFAC is not an absolute guarantee, see Greece, but if a country doesn’t live up to those obligations, people will be reluctant to buy its bonds in the future, so they generally live up to them if they have a choice. Which countries usually do, which is why government bonds of stable countries are a pretty safe investment. The only real risk is that their currency will drop against the dollar. Corporations OTOH go bust all the time, so Minnesota doesn’t want their money men gambling on foreign corporations (except Canada’s). The insistence on Canadian bonds being in U.S. dollars was probably over fears that the Canadian dollar would drop against the American dollar.

        • Hostage
          April 23, 2012, 4:55 pm

          What you aren’t understanding is that the term “full faith and credit” means

          Fredblogs I understand the term of art and the scope of the statute perfectly well. The statute is talking about investments in municipal and state bonds within the United States and foreign investments that are payable in legal tender. You’re the one who is misrepresenting the content and the intent of the statute.

        • Hostage
          April 23, 2012, 5:27 pm

          BTW, you aren’t one of their lawyers are you? Because that would explain a whole lot about this case.

          No. I tend to agree that the statute contains no provisions for individual taxpayers to pursue a policy dispute over SBI investments through the Courts and that several non-Canadian types of foreign investment are explicitly authorized under certain circumstances. Without looking into the legislative history on the specific vs. general provisions you can’t say for certain which is later in date or controlling.

        • Hostage
          April 23, 2012, 8:05 pm

          No, the full faith and credit _clause _ of the U.S. Constitution means that. The term “full faith and credit” itself has wider application. All it means in this context is that if any country issued the bonds, backed by that country’s good name, then Minnesota can buy them.

          Fredblogs the statute is obviously using the clause in the narrow constitutional sense. Your interpretation would result in the absurd situation where the SBI could invest in Cuban government bonds payable in non-convertible national pesos without regard to the country’s credit rating, but not guaranteed or insured issues of Canadian bonds payable in Canadian national currency or bonds of the International Bank payable in foreign currencies, since Subd. 2.Government obligations provides that:

          The state board may invest funds in governmental bonds, notes, bills, mortgages, and other evidences of indebtedness provided the issue is backed by the full faith and credit of the issuer or the issue is rated among the top four quality rating categories by a nationally recognized rating agency. The obligations in which the board may invest under this subdivision include guaranteed or insured issues of . . . (b) Canada and its provinces, provided the principal and interest is payable in United States dollars; . . . (d) the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank, or any other United States government sponsored organization of which the United States is a member, provided the principal and interest is payable in United States dollars.

          Please get yourself some clue.

        • Fredblogs
          April 23, 2012, 8:21 pm

          No, you really don’t. If you are a lawyer, God help your clients.

        • Fredblogs
          April 23, 2012, 8:39 pm

          If it were talking about municipal and state bonds, then the part at the beginning about about governmental bonds generally would by unnecessary, since cities and municipalities are covered explicitly in part c. If it meant “U.S. governmental bonds” it would have said it.

          Look, he’s obviously not going to believe me, any actual lawyers over there on the anti-Israel side who want to weigh in? Read the statute yourself, imagine we were talking about Swiss bonds to get the prejudice against Israel out of the way and explain it to this guy.

        • Fredblogs
          April 24, 2012, 12:43 am

          You lest out c. states and municipalities.

          Like I said. First thing it says is “The state board may invest funds in governmental bonds, notes, bills, mortgages, and other evidences of indebtedness provided the issue is backed by the full faith and credit of the issuer or the issue is rated among the top four quality rating categories by a nationally recognized rating agency”

          Governmental bonds are the bonds of any government. Any country, any city, any state. If it’s a government, and it issues a bond, that’s a governmental bond. As I said, even if you were right about “full faith and credit” (you aren’t) there is still the alternative way “_OR_ the issue is rated among the top four quality rating categories by a nationally recognized rating agency”. Standard and Poor’s is a nationally recognized rating agency, and they rate Israel bonds among the top four quality rating categories. Therefore Israel bonds qualify either way. One way I know I’m right that Israel bonds are Kosher is that the judge said so too.

        • Fredblogs
          April 24, 2012, 2:24 am

          Another way I know I’m right is because (as a poster on another site put it)

          “If you look at sections 11A.241 through 11A.244, you will see that several countries (Northern Ireland, Iran, and Sudan) are specifically limited. If you could only buy U.S. and Canadian bonds, why would there be statutes limiting bonds from these countries? The answer is that there is no such limit and Ms. Schwarz doesn’t know what she is talking about.”

        • Hostage
          April 24, 2012, 6:16 am

          If you could only buy U.S. and Canadian bonds, why would there be statutes limiting bonds from these countries?

          I’ve never claimed that the statute prohibits buying guaranteed or insured bonds from other countries payable in US dollars, only that the “full faith and credit clause” for bonds that are not rated in a top category by a national agency obviously has the normal constitutional meaning that would exclude foreign acts, obligations, judgments, and any restrictions under general legislation adopted by the US Congress, like the applicable laws on legal tender for payment of public debts, & etc.

        • Fredblogs
          April 24, 2012, 1:12 pm

          Except for Canada, there is no requirement that foreign bonds be in U.S. dollars.

    • Fredblogs
      April 22, 2012, 10:46 pm

      Oh, and “a lot” is two words. There is no such word as “alot”. Though there is such a word as “allot”.

      • Mooser
        April 23, 2012, 9:31 pm

        “Oh, and “a lot” is two words. There is no such word as “alot”. Though there is such a word as “allot”.”

        I thought “a lot” was what you stole from Palestinians. Or maybe it’s what the houses settlers steal are located on.

      • W.Jones
        April 27, 2012, 1:57 am

        Dear Fredblogs,

        “Alot” is a military acronym for an allotment.
        link to history.navy.mil

        In the case at hand, I understand that there were an allotment of 4 major issues in the case.

        However, I meant to say that “I understand there were a lot of issues in the case.” I made a spelling error, which due to your diligence I shall probably make less frequently in the future.

  6. Fredblogs
    April 22, 2012, 10:31 pm

    Funny thing, first thing I thought of when I started to read this article was “what are they using to have standing”. The second thing was “isn’t this barred by the political question doctrine (which says foreign policy is not the courts’ business)”. Turned out that was what the judge kicked it on. How did the lawyer for the plaintiffs think they even had a shot on this one? It has nothing to do with “Israel is powerful politically” and everything to do with technical rules that any law student should be able to tell you by the end of his first year. Those rules are so basic, and so well known that if the defense hadn’t brought them up, they would have been guilty of malpractice and the court would probably have brought them up sua sponte (on the court’s own behalf).

    • Mooser
      April 23, 2012, 9:36 pm

      Ah, good move. You can’t in any way refute Hostages point that “You are the one who is misrepresenting the content and the intent of the statute.”, so you just repeat that you are right again.

      Fredblogs, who ever told you that it was a good idea for you to comment as Israel and Zionism’s defender? Did you ask anybody if it was a good idea? Honestly, I can’t see how you could do anything but repel people. You should really consult a Rabbi or other Zionist authourity and submit some samples of your comments and avail yourself of their advice. You know, Fred, for the good of the tribe.

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