Jewish Journal

Podcast: Anderson proposes new Iran divestment bill in CA Assembly

by Karmel Melamed

July 14, 2008 | 3:41 am

California Assemblyman Joel Anderson

I recently attended a press conference for Southern California’s Persian language media at UCLA’s Covel Commons held by freshman California State Assembly member Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon) regarding a new Iran divestment bill, also known as ACR 79. The bill symbolically calls on the University of California Regents to divest nearly $2 billion in employee pension funds invested in companies doing business in Iran.

Listen to our exclusive podcast interview with Anderson regarding his new bill ACR 79, here

Last October California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law, AB 221 legislation Anderson had drafted requiring state pension funds to divest roughly $200 million from companies working with Iran’s regime. Anderson said he has spearheaded Iran divestment legislation because of his concern for Israel and America’s security amidst Iran’s growing ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons. From my interview with Anderson, I walked aways with the feeling that he is perhaps one of the few lawmakers in this country that really understands how the U.S. and the free world can bring down the radical Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran—and that is through economic pressure. As a result of poor economic policies and good old fashioned corruption by the ayatollahs running Iran, the regime is tittering on the verge of economic collapse with double digit unemployment and inflation as well as high food costs. The only two things keeping the regime afloat are the billions in petro-dollars from their sale of crude oil and foreign investments in the country from multi-national corporations. Wisely, Anderson has gone for the Achilles’ heal of the Iranian government by targeting companies that are invested in Iran and calling on public and private entities to divest from these businesses working with the regime. Already the state of California has divested $200 million of its pension funds that were indirectly supporting the regime and nearly 20 other states have done the same. No doubt these millions over time add up to billions and can really hinder the Iranian regime’s ability to stay alive.

My hope is that the University of California Regents will also get this very vital message of how to topple the regime in Iran by divesting their pension funds! Any person in their right mind that does not want to see the Middle East plunged into a war by Iran’s government obtaining nuclear weapons will support this ACR 79 and other similar Iran divestment bills. I think we as Californians need to contact the UC Regents and urge them to divest their employee pension funds from companies working with Iran. The Regents contact information can be found at here. In my opinion, Anderson is one of the many true friends Israel has in the California Assembly because he realizes the real threat that the Iranian government possess to Israel and the need to bring down the regime in Tehran through economic means. He also a true friend to those Iranian Americans who oppose the current regime in Iran and want greater human rights for their countrymen living there.

Right now there is plenty of talk of military strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites and I am not one to support or oppose this option…but I do sincerely believe that cutting off the regime’s lifeline of funds is key to effectively toppling the Iranian government. Once their economy collapses, the majority of Iranians who already oppose the brutality of their government, will also rise up against their leadership and hopefully destroy the regime. If enough states in America, the U.S. Federal government and countries in Europe turn off the spigot of funds going into Iran—there is no doubt that it will squeeze that regime which is already hurting. Divestment has worked in the past with countries such as Libya and South Africa, there’s no reason for it not to work with Iran today.

Those interested in supporting Anderson and his bill ACR 79, can visit his website here

Iranian Jewish activist, Frank Nikbakht translates Anderson’s words into Persian for the Iranian media at hand during the press conference
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Karmel Melamed is an internationally-published freelance journalist based in Southern California.

Since 2000, Melamed has specialized in covering the growing influential...

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