When the prestigious Booker prize announced its 2023 longlist in early August, Montreal-born author Sarah Bernstein’s novel Study for Obedience was among the selected works. The following month, it was revealed as one of the Scotiabank Giller Prize’s 2023 longlist selections. It was ultimately named the $100,000 winner of the Giller on Nov. 13—Bernstein was […]
Investment Firm Announces Recommendations for Preventing Corporate Anti-Israel Bias
Morningstar, Inc., a Chicago based investment firm managing over $250 billion in assets, has issued a report including several recommendations for reducing anti-Israel bias in the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings its Sustainalytics subsidiary assigns to corporations.
For several years, Sustainalytics gave poor ESG ratings to Israel affiliated companies, a practice that led Jewish civil rights groups and lawmakers to suspect that the company was violating state laws against engaging in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to isolate and weaken the Jewish state.
The firm denied the allegations, but a review of the its ratings by JLens, a leading Jewish investor network, found that Sustainalytics created “BDS blacklists” and used in its internal reports “politicized anti-Israel language” to describe Israel. JLens’ work, which was the first to raise alarms about the issue, led to Morningstar’s cracking down on the practices and adopting policies for ensuring that Sustainalytics does not become a BDS collaborator.
Released on Jan. 31, Morningstar’s new report builds on that commitment, outlining several policy changes, including: eliminating a designation which identified companies as being involved in “occupied territories/disputed region,” quashing reliance on disinformative media reports aimed at distorting a company’s ESG rating, and appointing legal experts to examine matters relevant to international human rights law.
“We welcome Morningstar’s commitment to eliminate anti-Israel bias in Sustainalytics research products,” Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement on Wednesday. “We look forward to ongoing engagement with Morningstar to ensure the expert recommendations are fully and effectively implemented.”
The ADL took a leading role in combating anti-Israel bias in ESG ratings, incorporating JLens in Nov. 2022. ADL noted at the time that BDS activists target firms managing ESG rated funds, which attracted over $500 billion in investments in 2021, a 55% increase from the previous year, according to JP Morgan. During 2022’s proxy season, a time when publicly traded companies hold annual meetings to assess performance and weigh suggestions from shareholders, Israel was named in eight of 20 resolutions targeting foreign governments, “making the country only second to China.”
Morningstar’s recommendations will shield ESG from political bias and increase its reliability, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law founder and chairman Kenneth L. Marcus explained in a statement applauding the report.
“Anti-Israel external forces are doing everything they can to infiltrate campuses, boardrooms, the [United Nations]., sports leagues, and the securities industry,” he said. “We commend Morningstar for engaging with us, examining their ESG product, and committing to make the changes necessary to ensure that their rating system is apolitical, objective, and honest. We believe that implementing the experts’ report is critical to achieving this goal.”
Ari Hoffnung, managing director of JLens, added that “investor are entitled to research that is both objective and devoid of any anti-Israel bias.”
Last July, Morningstar removed 109 negative “controversy ratings” that Sustainalytics subsidiary had given to companies operating in Israel. The firm has also stopped referring to the West Bank and East Jerusalem as ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory’ or ‘occupied territory” and committed to educating its employees about antisemitism and amassing information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from “independent, recognized experts.”
Morningstar, however, has repeatedly denied that it ever supported BDS. In June 2022, Morningstar CEO Kunal Kapoor issued a statement arguing that an external review of Sustainalytics found no evidence that it “encouraged divestment from Israel” but acknowledged that at least one of its departments singled out businesses “linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and “sometimes used inflammatory language and failed to provide sourcing attribution clearly and consistently.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
The post Investment Firm Announces Recommendations for Preventing Corporate Anti-Israel Bias first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
George Washington University to Discipline Anti-Zionist Group for Violating Suspension
George Washington University (GW) in Washington DC has leveled additional disciplinary sanctions against members of the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter following their repeated violations of the group’s suspension and other rules, the GW Hatchet reported on Monday.
According to the paper, after being suspended, SJP assembled a front group called “Student Coalition for Palestine” and held an unauthorized protest in Nov. at Kogan Plaza, an outdoor space frequently used by the campus community for outdoor events.
Student Coalition for Palestine held two more unauthorized demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday and declined to speak on record to GW Hatchet, citing concerns about being “doxxed.” On both days, they brandished signs that said, “Divest from Zionist genocide” and “From the river to the sea,” a chant widely interpreted as calling for a genocide of Jews in Israel.
They also chanted, “Israel bombs, GW pays, how many kids did you kill today?” and “Granberg, Granberg, you’re a coward, we the students have the power,” referencing GW President Ellen M. Granberg, who is a Jewish woman.
In November, George Washington University became the third private university in the United States to suspend its Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter after the group projected pro-Hamas messages on a university library.
The suspension reportedly included two phases, first a 90-day period in which SJP was banned from sponsoring and holding events on campus, and a second, beginning on Feb. 12, 2024 and lasting for the remainder of the academic year, in which the university continues to “restrict” its activities.
Now facing new charges of community disturbance, disorderly conduct, and noncompliance for violating the suspension, an SJP member told the GW Hatchet, which has taken the group’s lead in describing Student Coalition for Palestine as non-affiliated with SJP, that the university is being “hateful” and fascistic.
“They refuse to acknowledge that it has to do with our solidarity,” the student alleged. “They refuse to acknowledge their fascism.”
The student also threatened that continued efforts to hold SJP accountable for violating school rules will “only make us louder.”
GW SJP in Palestine has been battling the school’s administration to push the boundaries of its campus activities since Hamas’ terror invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, an attack that resulted in over 1,200 deaths of mostly civilians and included numerous rapes and torture.
Five days after the attack, President Ellen Granberg censured in strong terms any support on campus for the war crimes Hamas committed, acts that SJP had cheered during numerous demonstrations.
“I not only condemn terrorism, but I also abhor the celebration of terrorism and attempts to perpetuate rhetoric or imagery that glorifies acts of violence,” Granberg wrote in an open letter. “Such messages do not speak on behalf of me, our administrators, or GW.” Granberg also expressed concern for all affected by the week’s events in the Middle East, calling on the campus community to “reach out to a friend, colleague, or classmate and show your support.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
The post George Washington University to Discipline Anti-Zionist Group for Violating Suspension first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
ADL Urges Chicago Cops to Apprehend Culprits Behind Antisemitic Flyer Campaign
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called on the Chicago Police Department to step up efforts to apprehend the culprits behind a series of antisemitic flyers distributed in the the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, which is home to a large Jewish population.
“For the 4th time in over 5 weeks, residents of Chicago‘s Lincoln Park neighborhood woke up today to antisemitic & white supremacist flyers on their cars,” the Jewish civil rights organization’s office for the Midwest stated in a post on X/Twitter. “We spoke with Chicago police & urged them to do what’s necessary to find & hold accountable those responsible for these hateful acts.”
At least 50 vehicles parked in Lincoln Park were targeted with flyers bearing handwritten messages attacking Jews and their alleged influence. “I saw on my dashboard a piece of paper with an antisemitic, very antisemitic markings on it that said that Jews own the media, the Jews started COVID,” local resident Aaron Snyder told ABC News. Local media outlets blurred the text written on the flyers in their reports of the latest incident.
At a community neighborhood meeting on Tuesday night, attendees voiced a mix of fear and anger over the repeated incidents. Similar flyers were discovered in Lincoln Park last week.
“Clearly, this is targeted antisemitic hate material, and the fact that it’s being placed intentionally in residential neighborhoods where Jewish families live, it seems designed to sow fear and unrest in the hearts of our Jewish residents,” Second Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins told local media outlets.
While no-one has yet been identified as responsible for distributing the flyers, Hopkins said that he believed “it’s the same group that’s responsible for it. It’s clearly more than one person because there’s a significant number of these that are deployed at the same time.”
The so-called “Goyim Defense League (GDL)”, a US neo-Nazi organization, has orchestrated a similar campaign over the last two years in Florida, North Carolina, California and several other states, distributing printing flyers blaming Jews collectively for the COVID pandemic and other social ills. It remains unclear whether the GDL is behind the current harassment of Jews in Chicago.
The post ADL Urges Chicago Cops to Apprehend Culprits Behind Antisemitic Flyer Campaign first appeared on Algemeiner.com.