Harrisburg and Iran


Given the determination of the Islamist regime that rules Iran to develop nuclear capability, many Americans feel helpless to do anything about the possibility that Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will have access to weapons that could make good on his threats to annihilate Israel.

But we aren't helpless. While there are no guarantees that anything short of military force will stop Tehran, toughening sanctions puts pressure on the Iranians to stand down. And far from this being the sole province of the diplomatic dilettantes at the United Nations, Pennsylvania can play an important role in this battle.

That's why the push to enact legislation to force state pension funds to divest from firms doing business in Iran and fellow rogue state Sudan is a vital part of a national effort to prioritize the isolation of these regimes.

Progress toward this goal has been slow, but last week the legislature in Harrisburg made a vital first step. The passage of the Protecting Pennsylvania's Investments Act by a vote of 185-15 last week should set an example to other legislatures around the country.

Credit for this achievement goes to State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-District 153) and State Rep. Babette Josephs (D-District 182). Shapiro had been working for a broad-based divestment bill that would penalize all nations listed by the U.S. State Department as terror sponsors. Josephs had been focused on Sudan. But a skillful compromise allowed the two to join forces, and pass a bill that specifically tackles Iran and Sudan — the former a country that threatens to commit genocide in the future, the latter one that is already committing the crime in its Darfur region.

But the battle is not yet won. The State Senate must still vote, and those who oppose any limitations on the pension-fund managers are doing their best to ensure that this measure fails.

The message from Pennsylvanians to their legislators must be crystal-clear. Investing in international outlaws is not only immoral, it's bad business. The risk is not in divesting from Iran and Sudan, but in basing the future of our state retirees on the whims and profitability of those in the business of genocide.



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