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Chicago city officials withdraw proposal to boycott Switzerland

Chicago Jewish News
CHICAGO (JTA) — Is Switzerland the next South Africa? Two Chicago officials apparently saw similarities. Aldermen Bernard Stone and Burt Natarus proposed an ordinance that would prohibit banks or institutions that conduct business with Swiss banks from doing business with the city of Chicago. It also would ban the investment or deposit of city funds into Swiss banks. “It’s the same thing done to the South Africans,” Stone said, referring to a City Council ordinance, since repealed, that imposed economic sanctions against South Africa for its apartheid policy. Stone predicted “unanimous support” for the proposal among council members. But that was before discussions with Jewish leaders, who were concerned that it might interfere with ongoing negotiations between Jewish organizations and the Swiss government and banks. That concern was confirmed in a conversation between American Jewish Congress leaders and Stuart Eizenstat, the U.S. official who is coordinating the American investigation of Switzerland’s wartime role and the fate of the Swiss bank accounts of Holocaust victims. Joel Rubin, executive director of the AJCongress office in Chicago, asked Eizenstat what he thought of the proposed ordinance. “Very harmful” and “disadvantageous” was the reply. In the end, Natarus and Stone, who are both Jewish, decided not to bring their proposal up for a vote.