There is no better friend to the United States and to South Carolina than the nation of Israel.
Today, our friend is under constant attacks on multiple fronts. These relentless threats to the safety and security of Israel jeopardize the international economy, the stability of that region, and could ultimately threaten world peace.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government have shown tremendous patience and restraint to avoid conflict. However, a nation has a responsibility to defend its people from terrorist networks such as Hamas.
Hamas is not acting alone, but with aid from regimes in North Korea and Iran. Historically, Iran’s security services have been the largest supplier of arms and cash to Hamas. This should not be taken lightly, as Iran is not content to threaten solely with harsh words: it desires to put deadly force behind them. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Israel should be “wiped out” and “is on its way to annihilation.”
Unfortunately this mindset isn’t unique to just Iran. Just this week, Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif spoke out to state that “there will be no ceasefire without [Israel’s] lifting of the siege…. Victory will be ours.” These regimes are not interested in a ceasefire, but rather complete destruction.
At a National Association of Attorneys General meeting, we discussed potential actions that states could take to avoid aiding and abetting dangerous regimes, such as Iran. I’m proud to say following that meeting, we took action.
Earlier this year, I was honored to work with Ambassador Ron Dermer, Consul General Opher Aviran, as well as legislative leaders such as Senator Joel Lourie and Representatives Alan Clemmons and Bakari Sellers, among others, in passing Iranian Divestment and Contracting legislation similar to measures in more than 30 other states. The specter of divestment by the states is one of the most effective means of pressuring companies to cease their business with Iran.
South Carolina’s divestment policy is simple and straightforward. It precludes government entities from entering into contracts with companies that have significant holdings in Iran’s energy sector. Reducing those revenue sources means less funding for Iran’s ongoing campaign of terror, intimidation and oppression.
By divesting holdings from companies that do business with Iran’s energy sector, companies must choose whether they want to do business with Iran, or South Carolina. Doing so protects South Carolina’s resources from being put in a precarious position, and potentially conflicting with national security efforts. This was an important action to ensure South Carolina does not aid or support regimes which sponsor terrorism and allows us to disassociate from Iran’s rogue behavior.
We are not telling companies who they can and cannot do business with in the free market. However we are saying that if a company wishes to do business with terrorist regimes, such as Iran, then South Carolina does not want their business.
The people of Israel are in harm’s way. Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to warn that Israeli’s must prepare for “more fighting” and went on to state that they will do “whatever is necessary” to defend themselves from these threats and “death tunnels”.
South Carolina took action earlier this year to send the message that we will not support regimes that wish to cause harm on our friends and allies. The Palmetto State stands with Israel in prayerful solidarity and hope that their actions will soon restore peace to all peoples of the world.
This Op-Ed was published August 2014.