The following article comes from Bob Rubin’s op-ed for JNS :https://www.jns.org/column/financial-services/23/8/3/307522/
Over the span of my long career as a financial advisor, I’ve witnessed a myriad of situations – clients amassing and losing fortunes, colossal institutions with billions in assets collapsing within 24 hours due to ceaseless mergers, and the oscillation between bullish and bearish markets. Yet, what remains unacceptable is the intrusion of financial institutions into culture wars and social justice matters.
Let’s be clear: the mission of a financial institution revolves around money and fiscal matters, not entangling itself in culture wars or the ever-changing landscape of social justice. The last thing I desire is for my clients’ accounts to suffer due to some far-left marketing manager pulling a misguided move akin to a “Bud Light” fiasco.
One of the culture wars that has infiltrated financial institutions pertains to the subtle boycott of Israeli companies. The recent case of Morgan Stanley, a global giant in brokerage and investment banking, downgrading Israel’s sovereign credit rating to a “dislike stance” last week serves as a notable example. Meanwhile, Moody’s cautioned of a “significant risk” stemming from political and social tensions that could negatively impact Israel’s economy and security situation.
But let’s pause and consider this: Did Morgan Stanley take a similar action with America’s sovereign credit rating as cities went up in flames during the Black Lives Matter protests, incurring billions in damage? Or did they adjust the sovereign credit rating of the Islamic Republic of Iran after the unjust execution of over 600 innocent Iranian citizens this year on baseless charges? The answer is an unequivocal no. However, peaceful protests in Israel regarding judicial reform have prompted major financial institutions to take shots at the Israeli government by altering their sovereign credit ratings.
While the aforementioned instances raise considerable concern, one of the most glaringly antisemitic incidents involving a major financial services company over the past year revolves around Morningstar’s targeting of Israeli companies. Morningstar, a global financial services company renowned for delivering independent investment research, data, and analysis to investors and financial professionals, has ventured into boycotting companies within the State of Israel.
Throughout my career, I’ve consistently and proudly supported the world’s only Jewish nation: the State of Israel, often referred to as the Startup Nation. It deeply troubles me that Morningstar, while ignoring the transgressions of countries like China or the Islamic Republic of Iran, continues to single out Israeli companies.
To delve into the past year’s interactions between Morningstar and Israeli companies, let’s explore the details. In October 2022, Morningstar unveiled additional measures to address concerns regarding anti-Israel bias raised by Jewish groups in the U.S. in relation to Sustainalytics’ ESG research products. Regrettably, the implementation of these “additional measures” faced delays.
A report in February 2023 by The Washington Free Beacon revealed that Morningstar, the financial ratings giant, had failed to follow through on its commitment to eliminate anti-Israel bias from its corporate ratings system. This was highlighted by the company’s continued blacklisting of firms associated with Israel, including Motorola Solutions and Elbit Systems, despite their contribution to Israel’s security sector and counterterrorism efforts.
Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, in a recent address to the group Christians United for Israel, candidly remarked: “We [Florida] have also stood firmly against the BDS [Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel] movement. Now they’re trying to infuse anti-Israel policies into the so-called ESG criteria. First and foremost, ESG is a complete sham, and we’ve strongly opposed it in the state of Florida.”
I commend my governor for taking a resolute stance on this issue, as billions, if not trillions, of dollars flow through ESG-related assets. In this context, Morningstar’s attempt to divert these capital flows away from companies linked to Israel constitutes a direct economic assault on the nation.
From Morgan Stanley to Morningstar, there appears to be an unsettling fixation on singling out the sole Jewish state globally. This selective targeting undeniably qualifies as antisemitism. As a professional in the financial services sector, I believe it would be prudent for them to refocus on their core competency of serving clients and aiding them in managing their finances, rather than delving into contentious culture wars.
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