L.A. county board backs Iran divestment motion


LOS ANGELES (JTA) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to ask the county pension fund to divest assets from American firms liable to U.S. government sanctions due to their investments in Iran’s oil and natural gas sector.

In another vote July 21, the board rejected a motion asking the Los Angeles Opera company to shift the focus of a citywide arts celebration away from Richard Wagner’s "Ring of the Niebelung" because of the composer’s virulent anti-Semitism.

The motion on the 2010 Ring Festival L.A. had led to a week of stormy debates reviving the arguments, familiar to Israelis, on whether an artist’s works can be separated from his personal life and views.

Non-Jewish Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who introduced the motion, had argued that "You wouldn’t feature Hitler’s ‘Main Kampf’ at a book fair." Antonovich wanted performances added to feature such composers as Beethoven, Puccini , Verdi and others.

Instead, the board backed a substitute motion by Zev Yaroslavsky, a Jewish supervisor, in support of the opera company and the Ring festival, which includes a number of symposia dedicated to discussing Wagner’s anti-Semitism.

Antonovich and Yaroslavsky had sponsored the Iran motion.

Recommended from JTA