On February 1st, 2011, after two years of state-wide grassroots organizing, an activist group, called the “Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign” (MN BBC), issued a divestment demand to the Minnesota State Board of Investment (SBI), threatening them with possible legal action.
Activists then tried for months to pressure Minnesota state lawmakers to divest from Israel Bonds. They launched public letter-writing campaigns to the SBI, in what they described as “an effort to flood the capitol building with demands that Minnesota divest from Israel”, and they also lobbied members of the state legislature directly. They unsuccessfully tried to bully themselves on to the agenda of the March 2011 SBI meeting which was to make decisions pertaining to investments – refusing a private meeting offered by the SBI in favour of pursuing a publicity grab on the issue. SBI officials did eventually meet with MN BBC activists, in March 2011, but the activists reported that the state was (not surprisingly) “unresponsive”, a fact borne out when, in November 2011, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton formally rejected MN BBC’s demand.
Not to be deterred by their total political failure MN BBC then filed a lawsuit against the SBI, claiming that Israel Bonds were supporting Israeli actions that had supposedly been deemed illegal under international law, and calling on the State of Minnesota to sell the $18 million it holds in Israeli Bonds.
Last week, on April 9th, Minnesota’s Ramsey County Judge Margaret Marrinan dismissed the lawsuit out of hand.
Quite aside from finding that the self-appointed plaintiffs did not have standing to file the lawsuit, the Judge ruled that “the authority to make social, political and economic policy decisions of the kind Plaintiffs complain about in this case resides with the Legislature and the SBI [State Board of Investment], not this Court” – in other words, that there is no legal grounds for the call to divest from Israel.