AJC New Jersey is deeply grateful to our state’s governor and legislators for enacting an Iran sanctions law. It was introduced in January by Senator Kean in the State Senate and Assemblyman McKeon in the Assembly. Both houses passed it unanimously in June, and Governor Christie has now signed it. The law prohibits the state and its localities from entering into public contracts with persons or entities that invest in Iran. New Jersey thus becomes the sixth state to enact Iran sanctions legislation and the first to lower the sanction threshold to companies having as little as $5 million invested in Iran.
AJC’s national organization circulated a petition on the Iranian nuclear threat as early as 2006. Its goal was to reach out to religious leaders, heads of corporations, presidents of universities and hospitals, and community leaders and ask them to take a public stand against Iran’s nuclear program, which already then threatened Middle East stability and seemed likely to precipitate a nuclear arms race in the region.
The following year, when the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of MetroWest formed the Stop Iran Now Coalition, AJC New Jersey was a charter member. The goal was to garner broad support for divestment from Iran through educating and mobilizing not only the Jewish community but also all New Jersey residents to rally around the campaign and lobby their elected officials.
Our members sent letters to New Jersey legislators and to then-Governor Corzine advocate for the State of New Jersey to divest its pension plans from companies that do business with Iran. This proved effective, as Governor Corzine signed such a bill on January 4, 2008, and the state sold $360 million worth of stock in eleven firms that had business ties to Iran.
AJC New Jersey’s members extended the letter-writing campaign over the next two years, and also built awareness through university-sponsored conferences and dozens of other programs on the Iranian nuclear threat. AJC New Jersey also participated en masse in the Stand Up for Freedom in Iran Rally in New York City on September 24, 2009, and in similar events.
In January 2010, a new partner joined in the coalition when a teen advocacy group called No Nukes for Iran took the stage. These empowered young people focused their efforts on encouraging New Jersey companies to divest from Iran. Their efforts culminated in a well-attended press conference and rally that June specifically addressing the divestment of Honeywell, a New Jersey-based company. In a letter to AJC New Jersey dated August 30, 2010, Honeywell refused to divest from Iranian companies, indicating only that if “the U.S. Law [should] change and prevent Honeywell from fulfilling our contractual obligations, we will fully comply.”
New Jersey law has changed. AJC New Jersey, Stop Iran Now, No Nukes for Iran, the Jewish community and the State of New Jersey have united to stop nuclear proliferation in Iran.
Amy Reisen Freundlich
American Jewish Committee Metro NJ Region