Somerville, a community abutting both Boston and Cambridge, could become
the first US city to divest from Israel. According to those who track the
issue, the city has already distinguished itself as the first place to
formally consider a divestment resolution.

The measure stems from alleged Israeli human rights abuses and calls on
Somerville’s retirement board to rid the city’s pension fund of $250,000 of
Israel Bonds and other investments in American companies that “manufacture
military equipment used in Israel’s illegal military occupation,” such as
Caterpillar and Boeing.

The city of 80,000 can be described as both blue-collar and progressive.

The proposal came close to passing without debate when it was introduced on
October 28, but the Board of Aldermen, Somerville’s 11-member legislative
body, decided to host a public hearing on November 8 to let the other side
have its say. They will consider whether or not to modify the measure and
hold a final vote at a legislative committee meeting on December 7. The
resolution is non-binding, since the retirement board is independent of the
board of aldermen.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) is
optimistic that the flood of e-mails, phone calls and public testimony its
constituency has unleashed in the past month will stymie the measure”¦


The Honorable Joseph A. Curtatone


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