Anti-Defamation League purchasing leading Jewish investment group

“It’s time for the Jewish community to take a seat at the table to use our power as institutional investors to ensure corporations are aligned with our values, and don’t fall for antisemitic pressures.”

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) will purchase JLens, a group that provides financial advice to Jewish investors.

ADL announced the move on Thursday, describing it as an effort to “expand” activities aimed at preventing providers of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings — which encourage socially conscious investment strategies — from discriminating against Israeli companies and those that do business with Israel.

“ESG is the latest frontier in the fight against antisemitism, with radical Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activists trying to push their agenda,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said on Thursday. “It’s time for the Jewish community to take a seat at the table to use our power as institutional investors to ensure corporations are aligned with our values, and don’t fall for antisemitic pressures — that’s why we’re incorporating JLens, the leading Jewish organization on these issues.”

JLens is currently partnered with over 300 publicly traded companies, advocating closer relationships with Israel and discouraging involvement in the BDS campaign.

Recently, JLens was involved in assessing whether Sustainalytics, a subsidiary of the Chicag0-based firm Morningstar, assigned low ESG ratings to Israel affiliated companies and violated state laws against engaging in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. The group found that Sustainalytics created “BDS blacklists” and used in its internal reports “politicized anti-Israel language” to describe Israel.

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Its work, which was the first to raise alarms about the issue, led to Morningstar’s cracking down on the practices and adopting policies ensuring that Sustainalytics will not become a BDS collaborator.

In Thursday’s announcement, ADL noted that BDS activists target firms managing ESG rated funds, which attracted over $500 billion in investments in 2021, a 55% increase from the previous year, according to JP Morgan.

During 2022’s proxy season, a time when publicly traded companies hold annual meetings to assess performance and weigh suggestions from shareholders, Israel was named in eight of 20 resolutions targeting foreign governments, “making the country only second to China.”

ADL’s purchase of JLens builds on previous efforts to encourage corporations to treat Israel fairly. Working with Unilever, it helped reverse Ben & Jerry’s decision not to sell ice cream in Israel and in 2021 stopped Airbnb from delisting properties located in the West Bank (i.e. Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria).

“The recent high profile examples of companies publicly announcing anti-Israel moves are just the tip of the iceberg,” Greenblatt continued. “In working with JLens, we hope to be able to prevent such actions before they even take off.”