Jimmy Patronis urges Norway to reconsider ESG-based divestment from Israel

Florida's CFO said the decision was based on biased data from the United Nations.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is criticizing Norway for considering divesting from Israeli banks.

The Republican member of the Florida Cabinet wrote a letter to Norway Consul-General Heidi Olufsen slamming the decision. He said the country allowed misinformation from the United Nations to inform financial decisions.

“My concerns underscore an alarming situation where a Western European nation may divest from the world’s greatest, most prosperous democracy in the Middle East, while maintaining significant investments in China in the name of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) scoring,” Patronis wrote.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund announced last week it would review all investments in Israel, as reported by The Times of Israel. The large fund is worth $1.3 billion, and includes some 1.3% of the world’s publicly traded companies. That includes investments in about 80 Israeli stocks.

In 2021, the largest pension fund in Norway divested from 16 companies linked to occupation in the West Bank, Al Jazeera reported at the time.

Patronis said decision-making appeared guided by UN reports citing Sustainalytics data on ESG performance. He noted Morningstar last year dropped ESG ratings from the firm for disproportionately considering the Israel-Palestinian conflict compared to other regional conflicts, including human rights accusations against China against the Uyghurs, as Reuters reported.

Florida’s top financial officer has heavily criticized any consideration of ESG in investments, and previously announced Florida would divest from Blackrock for such “woke” investing.

“Relying on bad metrics, and ESG, for divestment decisions could create immense problems for both of our nations,” Patronis wrote in his letter to Norway.

“A divestment from Israeli banks, of this scale, may have devastating effects on the entire Israeli economy and stability within the Middle East. Following the failure of Silicon Valley Banks (SVB), markets are already sensitive to outflows within banking. Additionally, Israeli banks should not be singled out, as opposed to other international financial institutions.”

He said a “boneheaded” move by Norway like divesting from Israel could create a run on banks. He calls on financial leaders in the country to reconsider.

“The Norwegian Fund, which was created as a result of oil and gas investments, commands $1.3 trillion in assets and an institution of this size could create a domino effect where other funds would divest from Israel – dealing a significant blow to the Jewish-state,” he wrote.

“Suffice it to say, a run on the banks in the Middle East would not be good for anyone. Fortunately, the fund has not ruled on this issue yet, but time is of the essence.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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  • Family values flunky Bill McSewer

    April 2, 2023 at 2:22 pm

    Like Norway cares. They’re happier than we are in general and don’t have a pig infestation like USA. Don’t have overflowing prisons, overpriced education and healthcare, warring political parties, and the list goes on forever.

  • tom palmer

    April 2, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    This is a head scratcher. Patronis should focus on Florida issues, of which there are many

  • cassandra

    April 2, 2023 at 6:26 pm

    Norway is right to divest from Israeli banks. Israel is an apartheid state every bit as bad as South Africa was.

    The Jewish people have been persecuted, tortured, and killed for centuries. Yet look what the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinian people—- even killing children and journalists. Inexcusable. And in defiance of international law. Not biased Jimmy. It’s fact.

    People throughout the world—-including Jewish people—-are getting involved in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement. Many Americans are doing so as an expression of their Constitutionally protected Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech rights.

    If the Israeli economy is destroyed it will be Israel’s government’s own choice. If Jimmy’s investments suffer that’s Israel’s choice too.

    • Brian

      April 2, 2023 at 6:40 pm

      So if that’s the case why does Isreal have an “Arab,Palestinian on it’s Supreme Court? What Arab country has a Jewor Christian on their high court tell me that!

      • cassandra

        April 3, 2023 at 7:31 pm

        Norway isn’t divesting over the Israeli Supreme Court composition. Apartheid Israel is defying international law and is considered to be guilty of war crimes and human rights violations against the Palestinians.

        The investigations and reports are not “biased”. And, they were conducted by multiple respected organizations.
        Google: Apartheid Israel

Comments are closed.


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