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Illinois Investigates Financial Giant for Support of Antisemitic BDS Campaign

The Illinois Investment Policy Board committee on Israel boycott restrictions launched a formal inquiry into the Chicago-based multinational investor company Morningstar for alleged violation of its anti-BDS law.
In January, the Jerusalem Post reported that the prominent investment organization JLens, which focuses on Jewish investments, placed Morningstar on its “Do Not Invest” list because the firm supports the BDS movement.
According to the Board meeting agenda, the item that covers Morningstar states “Address updates (if any) or hearing (as applicable) as to Israel Boycott restricted company list.”
The agenda dated March 10 was recently published by the Illinois Investment Policy Board. The Jerusalem Post sent press queries to Morningstar and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker on Wednesday.
JLens conducted an analysis of Morningstar and determined that in 2020, the company purchased the allegedly pro-BDS Sustainalytics, a Netherlands-based company that sells ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) research to support socially responsible investing. In 2019, Sustainalytics absorbed GES International, a Swedish company that also implements ESG investment strategies and advances the aims of BDS, according to JLens.
JLens said: “With over $100 million in assets established by Jewish institutional investors,” it “will not own shares of Morningstar (MORN) until such time as JLens can determine the company no longer engages in nor profits from economic warfare activities against Israel. JLens does not offer an opinion as to whether the business activities of Morningstar are in violation of US anti-BDS laws.”
The State of Illinois has a robust anti-BDS law in 2015. The law permits the Illinois Investment Policy Board to bar companies from the state’s pension portfolios if the firm is found to be enabling a boycott of the Jewish state.
JLens said at the time in January that it, “submitted a shareholder proposal for Morningstar’s annual meeting in May 2021, requesting the board prepare a report for investors on the risks associated with the economic activism against Israel in Morningstar’s business lines.”
In 2019, the German Bundestag passed a resolution declaring BDS an antisemitic movement that resembles the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in Hitler’s Germany. The Austrian parliament passed a similar anti-BDS resolution in 2020.
A Morningstar representative said in January: “The bias claims made by JLens are grossly inaccurate and without merit. We have repeatedly explained our research methodologies and processes to JLens to no avail.” In response to the Morningstar comment, a JLens representative said its organization stands by its findings.