Minneapolis, MN – On December 18, the Minnesota Anti-War Committee held a press conference to proudly announce the installation of four billboards in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. These billboards will serve as a visual call to action, reinforcing the committee’s demands: “Divest Minnesota from Israel” and “End U.S. aid to Israel.”
Strategically placed, these billboards will be a powerful tool to amplify the Anti-War Committee’s demands that Minnesota divest from Israel and for the U.S. to end all support for Israel’s apartheid regime.
Billboards will be Minneapolis at 515 Washington Avenue S; 815 Washington Avenue SE, and at 328 S 3rd Street. The Saint Paul billboard is at 2040 Marshall Avenue.
For years, the Anti-War Committee has been a vocal critic of the State Board of Investment (SBI) and its use of public funds. The SBI, responsible for managing assets accumulated with Minnesota taxpayer money, oversees state retirement plans and pensions, state trusts and agency cash accounts. The Anti-War Committee’s investigations reveal that over $1 billion of Minnesotan taxpayer dollars have been invested by the SBI in Israel, Israeli companies, and entities supporting Israel’s apartheid state.
Notable entities receiving SBI investments include the state of Israel, Lockheed Martin, and Elbit Systems, an Israeli weapons manufacturer boasting about field-testing products on Palestinians. Elbit Systems has supplied 85% of the Israeli occupation forces’ land equipment and drones used in Gaza.
During the press conference, Stephen Vizenor, an Anti-War Committee member and city employee with a retirement plan invested through the SBI, voiced his displeasure regarding the utilization of his pension funds, stating, “As a city employee, 6.5% of my bi-weekly checks matched by 7.5% employer contributions go towards crimes against humanity. I have no choice but to contribute to the pension system – it is mandatory. I wish I could stop my contributions, so less capital could be used for killing. I don’t know one city employee who wants their pension contributions used to fund genocide.”
Since 1949, Israel has benefitted from over $150 billion in U.S., aid – more than the U.S. has ever sent to any other country. Israel is the only state recipient of U.S. foreign aid without capitulations nor conditions requiring repayment.
However, recent polling indicates a substantial change in public sentiment, with a majority of Americans expressing opposition to additional funding that could potentially support alleged human rights abuses by the Israeli government. According to the survey, 43% of Democrats, Republicans and Independents collectively oppose sending any further weapons or supplies to Israel.
The objective of this billboard campaign is to raise public awareness of the U.S.-funded apartheid in Israel and the atrocities faced by the Palestinian people. The intention is to foster advocacy for Palestinian human rights and exert pressure on both local and national elected representatives, urging them to take decisive action. Specifically, the goal is to call for an immediate cessation of all U.S. military aid to Israel, an end to financing Israel’s apartheid state, and a commitment to divest from companies complicit in the occupation of Palestine.