governor slams divestment petitions
By TOM TUGEND
August 12, 2002
LOS ANGELES California Gov. Gray Davis has spoken out sharply against
petitions launched on University of California campuses in Berkeley
and Los Angeles calling for the divestment of state-held stocks
in corporations doing business with Israel.
"As long as I am governor of this state, we will continue
to stand side by side with our friends in Israel, both in business
and friendship," Davis pledged in a written statement.
"The people of Israel are going through tremendous difficulties
right now. They live with daily unrest, violence, and death.
California will not abandon its friends in their time of need."
Faculty and student advocates of divestment cite Israel's
alleged human rights violations against Palestinians as the
basis of their demands.
Davis, who is running for reelection, noted that California
exported $818.2 million worth of products and services to
Israel in 2001, making Israel the state's 22nd largest trade
Leading exports included industrial machinery, computers,
and other electronic and electrical equipment.
whose plants in
in computer chips
to the world.
In addition, Israeli investments in California, mainly in Silicon
Valley hi-tech companies, grew from $4m. in 1990 to more than $162m.
in 1998, the latest figures available.
The value of Israeli exports to California is harder to pin down,
because figures are available only for the US as a whole and are
not broken down by individual states.
But Doron Abrahami, Israel's consul for economic affairs in Los
Angeles, estimates that the two-way trade between California and
Israel averages out at $2 billion a year, giving Israel a slight
edge in exports over imports.
Some 200 offices representing Israeli companies operate in California,
mostly in Silicon Valley, said Abrahami. He noted that the biggest
Israeli exporter is Intel, whose plants in Kiryat Gat and Jerusalem
annually export $2b. in computer chips to the world.
The single largest American investor in Israel is Los Angeles-based
Shamrock Holdings, which has invested between $700m. and $800m.
over the past 15 years.