Moody Leads Investigation into MSCI's Anti-Israel Involvement

Moody Leads Investigation into MSCI's Anti-Israel Involvement

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
March 31, 2024

The Israel-Hamas war continues to prove contentious in the United States, as groups organize to express sympathy for Palestinian civilians at best or justify Hamas at worst. Florida Attorney General (AG) Ashley Moody has recently begun investigating investment firm MSCI is potentially involved in the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BD) movement, saying, "The allegations against MSCI are deeply disturbing, and we have called for a quick response from the company’s leadership directly addressing our concerns."

Earlier in March, the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) reported that the New York-based firm would lower environmental social governance (ESG) scores for companies conducting business in Israel for supposed "human rights violations," such as Israeli defense contractors Elbit systems, Motorola, PayPal, and three Israeli banks such as Mizrahi, Leumi, and Hapoalim.

However, an MSCI spokesman told JNS "that the company does not use sanctions lists in its ratings processes," despite using non-government press releases and news reports in their ESG calculation methodology, which does influence potential bias in their system.

JNS and AG Moody further note the resemblance of the MSCI case to that of Chicago-based investment firm Morningstar, which was also found to lower ESG scores of companies operating in Israel for supposed engagement in "human rights violations."

"As evidenced by our efforts against Morningstar, we oppose the BDS movement in all forms, especially given the recent rise in antisemitism across the United States. Having said that, one of the allegations against MSCI is uniquely egregious," said AG Moody, referencing how MSCI gave a low rating to an unnamed Israeli company for "construction of security and surveillance barriers designed to protect Israelis from terrorists," which she noted was particularly egregious given the events of October 7th, when Hamas committed unspeakable atrocities against Israeli civilians leaving 1,200 dead.

In December, Moody led another coalition of Attorneys General in investigating the New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, and Reuters for their hiring of freelance journalists such as Hassan Esaliah, who possibly had ties to October 7th mastermind Yahya Sinwar, meaning these companies could have inadvertently provided material support for terrorists.

"We will continue to follow your reporting to ensure that your organizations do not violate any federal or State laws by giving material support to terrorists abroad. Now your organizations are on notice. Follow the law," Moody warned.

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Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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