Merck's 2017 Shareholder Resolutions: product safety, corporate governance, and Israel

My name is Rabbi Josh Ratner and I am the Director of Advocacy at JLens, a Jewish values-based investor network that owns thousands of shares of Merck.

We applaud Merck for its pharmaceutical applications, vaccine research, and access to medicine programs that offer affordable drug pricing to developing nations, and we encourage Merck to continue working on product safety and corporate governance oversight.

We urge our fellow shareholders to vote AGAINST Proposals 6 & 7. While deceptively written in the important language of responsible business, both proposals are part of an economic warfare campaign designed not to address the issues they raise, but to increase the cost and controversy for companies like Merck that have successful business ties to Israel.

Proposal 6, by the Holy Land Principles, claims to represent anti-discrimination, but in fact supports a discriminatory campaign waged against the Jewish side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ironically, Israel already has the most comprehensive, robust set of equal opportunity and non-discrimination employment laws in the entire Middle East.

Proposal 7, by the Heartland Initiative, is another deceitful campaign. Heartland brought a resolution last year focused solely on Israel that received very little support. Today, it brings another proposal hoping to achieve similar aims but disguising its intentions by using the language of “conflict affected areas.” It is led by a former employee of Sabeel, an organization whose founder denies the Jewish people’s connection to Israel and has called for a “third intifada” of violence against Israelis, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

We support responsible business practices in every region of the world, but we caution shareholders and our company’s leadership to be leery of misleading, politically-charged resolutions and to vote AGAINST Proposals 6 & 7.

Pictured: Julie Hammerman (JLens Executive Director), Kenneth Frazier (Merck CEO), Rabbi Ratner (JLens Director of Advocacy)

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