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Sec Urged to Require Firms Registered with Them to Disclose if They Comply with Arab Boycott

The American Jewish Congress urged the Securities and Exchange Commission today to require companies registered with it to make public disclosure of whether they comply with Arab boycott demands and the extent of their compliance.

In a statement submitted to the SEC, AJCongress President Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg said that just as investors had a right to know about their company’s financial affairs, they also had the right to be informed whether it was “polluting the physical environment, affording equal opportunity for employment and promotion to women and racial and ethnic minorities, lending assistance to the maintenance of a governmental system of segregation in South Africa or complying with the Arab boycott,”

The SEC is currently holding meetings in Washington to decide whether it should mandate disclosure of information on environmental and other “socially significant matters.”

Rabbi Hertzberg cited Department of Commerce statistics showing extensive compliance with the Arab boycott of Israel and American firms doing business with Israel, “The boycott was aimed at firms which have business relationships with Israel and has extended not only to industrial enterprises but, in recently well publicized instances, to investment banking houses deemed sympathetic to Israel,” Rabbi Hertzberg said.

He noted in his statement to the SEC that the boycott “operates largely behind closed doors” and that while many American firms have resisted it “others have complied–and those that have complied naturally refrain from publicizing their compliance.” He recalled that the SEC has taken “prompt enforcement action” against companies found guilty of offering bribes in foreign countries to do business there. Disclosure of Arab boycott compliance is “equally compelling,” he said.

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