An Illinois Senate committee has unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Senator Jeff Schoenberg of Evanston that will prohibit Illinois insurance companies from investing in countries that are designated as government sponsors of terrorism by the U.S. Department of State.

An Illinois Senate committee has unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Senator Jeff Schoenberg of Evanston that will prohibit Illinois insurance companies from investing in countries that are designated as government sponsors of terrorism by the U.S. Department of State.

Schoenberg said the measure is aimed at blocking Illinois-based insurance companies and mutual funds from having financial relationships with Iran, which is defying the international community with its pursuit of nuclear weapons and whose leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has denied the existence of the Holocaust.

Sen. Schoenberg (Senate Democratic Caucus photo)

“As the rogue Iranian regime accelerates its irresponsible efforts to develop nuclear weapons and violently blocks democratic freedoms for its own people, we must continue to exert our financial leverage against the Iranian government in clear and unmistakable terms,” Sen. Schoenberg said.

Under Senate Bill 3382, an insurance company headquartered in Illinois would be prohibited from acquiring any investment in a country that has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the State Department, as defined by these three federal laws:

  • Section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act prohibiting the US from providing assistance to any governments supporting international terrorism. Some of the countries that qualify under Section 620A are Sudan, Iran, and Syria.
  • Section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act prohibiting the sale or release of any munitions to countries that repeatedly provide support for acts of international terrorism.
  • Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act requiring a validated license for the export of goods or technology to a country if the Secretary of State has made the following determinations: (A) The government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. (B) The export of such goods or technology could make a significant contribution to the military potential of such country, including its military logistics capability, or could enhance the ability of such country to support acts of international terrorism.

Jay Tcath, Senior Vice President of the Jewish United Fund, praised Senator Schoenberg for his efforts on the bill. “Maximizing diplomatic and economic pressure on Tehran is the surest, most peaceful path of keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of the very Iranian rulers who support terror abroad and political repression at home,” said Tcath. “It is our job, even here in the American Midwest, to do our part in this global effort, and Senator Schoenberg’s latest effort is another meaningful step fulfilling that opportunity and meeting the Iranian challenge.

“The clock is ticking, and we hope the Illinois legislature and the governor can transform this idea into law quickly,” he added.

In 2008, Schoenberg, who’s the assistant majority leader of the Senate, and House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang of Skokie successfully passed a measure that prohibited Illinois’ public pension funds from investing in companies doing business with the Iranian energy sector, which is widely considered to be the funding source for the nation’s nuclear weapons program. To date, over $133 million in funds from the state’s retirement systems have been divested from firms with business ties to the Iranian energy sector. Schoenberg said that this newest legislative proposal was similarly aimed at withholding investment from the countries that harbor and facilitate terrorist activities.

Senate Bill 3382 now moves to the Senate floor for further consideration.

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  1. Fine, if only Israel were included
    Going after Iran while doing nothing against the illegal occupation and settlement movement in Israel – even rewarding that country with billions ($30 billion over ten years, given in 2007 under Bush) is the height of hypocrisy. Our state should not follow in the footsteps of the federal government.

  2. Important issue
    I commend Sen. Schoenberg and support what he’s doing. It’s bad enough that all our money is going into building foreign industry while our own country is closing factories and eliminating jobs because of outsourcing. I wouldn’t want our investment money to then go toward helping, in any way, countries that support terrorism.

  3. Israel
    Going after Israel for alleged “illegal occupation” and “settlement movement” without doing anything about the massive human rights abuses by the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan — each of which receives massive aid from the United States is the height of hypocrisy — let alone invading Iraq to protect the ruling family of Kuwait, one of the most reactionary, bigoted governments on the planet.

    Take for instance the United Arab Emirates, one of our favored little protectorates, which will now openly forbid people who look Israeli or sound Israeli (whatever that means). I guess if Judenrein worked for the Nazis, the arabs might as well use it as well.

    And speaking of Judenrein (and hypocrisy), let’s not forget the hundreds of thousands of Jews from arab countries who have been driven out of their homes without reparation since 1948.

    What is sauce for the Gander is sauce for the goose, CB.

    1. the sauce
      Mr. Anonymous – I’ve no argument with including all the countries you mention, but Israel needs to be first on any list of countries condemned for illegal activity and targeted for the removal of funding because it is only by way of U.S. funding that Israel can continue to flout international law and keep the Palestinians deprived of their own land.

      So how about that funding?

      We Americans are responsible for the injustice there in a direct way that does not apply to any of the other countries you mentioned. Many Israelis are not proud of what is happening either. Excellent materials can be had from the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem to document the awful situation in the West Bank, let alone Gaza. Visit the blog South Jerusalem for much thoughtful comment by two Israelis or read Gershom Goremberg’s excellent book, The Accidental Empire, to learn all about the history of the settlement movement. Since you put it in quotes, I take it you don’t think it is a real thing.

      You can examine the records of every congressional committee and not find any public hearings of any kind about Israel. No public speeches by Mr. Schoenberg or any other politicians other than “we stand with” boilerplate. Try writing our U.S. Rep., Jan Schakowsky, as I have, about it. Stone wall.

      Texas is a state of 25 million and has a budget deficit of over $3 billion this year. Yet, as mentioned, Israel, a country of 7 million, in 2007 was given a 25% increase in aid (not a loan) to $3 billion a year for ten years. Israel is not the 51st state, but an established successful economy with an estimated 6% budget deficit this year. We should be so lucky! Wouldn’t Americans be outraged if suddenly it was announced that Texas would be gifted with $3 billion each year at the expense of the rest of us in the country? But for Israel, on it goes. It’s nothing short of an entitlement, for a foreign country! It’s time to demand accountability on both a fiscal and human rights basis.

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