September 26, 2017 | The Jerusalem Post

Colorado Sanctions Danish Bank for BDS Activity Against Israel Companies

Colorado has added Danish banking giant Danske to a blacklist for its anti-Israel business activities.

Danske Bank has faced criticism and economic penalties for barring two Israeli defense companies – Aryt Industries and Elbit Systems – from its customers’ investments.

Danske and all of its subsidiaries were placed on a restricted company list on Friday.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, signed a bill in 2016 mandating that the state’s retirement program – the Public Employees’ Retirement Association – divest from companies that boycott Israel. PERA wrote on its website: “The establishment of the [anti-BDS] list requires PERA to engage the companies on the list to warn them of potential divestment.”

The Jerusalem Post reported last week that Jennifer Schreck, a senior staff attorney with the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, wrote: “Danske Bank did not respond to our inquiry. Therefore, we are proposing to the Board of Trustees at the September 22, 2017, board meeting to add Danske Bank to the Restricted Companies List.”

Thomas Hyldahl Kjærgaard, the bank’s head of responsible investments, told the Post last week that “Danske Bank does not boycott Israel or Israeli companies as such, and we do not take part in the so-called BDS campaign targeting Israel.”

Rep. Dan Nordberg, who helped to spearhead the anti-BDS law to passage in the Colorado House of Representatives, said last year: “Israel and Colorado have always been strong partners. Governors past and present have been frequent visitors, we have multiple research and development agreements with the country, and last year alone we exported over $37 million in commodities.”

Nordberg added, “Simply put, investing in companies that seek to weaken Israel economically and delegitimize it from the international community, goes against the broad interests of the state of Colorado and is a bad investment for our public pensioners.”

New York sanctioned Danske Bank last year for violating the state’s anti-BDS law. According to a Post source, Illinois is considering inclusion of Danske on its list of companies that state entities are prohibited from doing business with. Pro-Israel groups say Danske faces growing damage to its reputation and finances for singling out Israeli companies.

New Jersey is involved in a row over its decision to not find Danske in violation of the state’s anti-BDS law. Marc Greendorfer, an attorney and founder of the Zachor Legal Institute, told the Post last week that New Jersey “has investments in Danske Bank, but the state refuses to divest from Danske even though under the New Jersey law, there is no question that Danske qualifies as a company that is boycotting Israel (and is thus subject to divestiture by the state).”

Benjamin Weinthal is a research fellow at the nonpartisan Foundation for Defense of Democracies. You can follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

You can follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD.