Richmond city council votes to divest all city money with ties to Israel

The Richmond City Council voted on Tuesday to divest all city money from any stocks or mutual funds involving companies with ties to Israel. 

The vote happened as tensions in the U.S. surrounding the Israel-Hamas war intensified. 

City council member Sohelia Bana called the decision a moral obligation and social responsibility, and said most people at the vote were in favor of the change. 

"One thing that an Israeli Jewish lady was saying was that it's doing a service not only to the Palestinians but also to the Israelis," Bana said. "It's not just serving them but respecting their human rights but also Palestinian people with sustainable peace. We have to do it."

But not everyone agreed. 

Johnathan Mintzer of the Jewish Community Relations Council called the decision harmful.

"The council is putting the city at legal and financial risk to making a performative statement that won't bring peace to the region but will inflame community tensions," Mintzer said. 

The question many are also asking is how does a city divest an estimated more than $100 million?  

It's the same question that has been brought up as protesters on college campuses make the same requests of their schools. 

According to the city, the plan is to comb through investments, see where ties lie and pull the money out.

But according to James McBride, a financial advisor, it's not that simple and may be a moot point. 

He said selling Israeli investments would have no effect on companies or the stock market as they would be purchased by other investors. 

He added that university divestments don't change corporate behavior and most investments are in mutual funds or exchange trade funds and corporations included are not hand selected. 

 Bana said city administration will be tasked with finding out where to invest money moving forward. 

They have until July 2 to decide.