Just more than one year ago, the violent attack on the Freedom Flotilla radically changed the international dialogue on Israel and Palestine. Protests in solidarity with the nonviolent activists erupted around the world, from expected global capitals like Tel Aviv and New York City to areas where one would never expect to see a Palestinian flag—like Cincinnati and Des Moines.
Palestine became less of a “controversial” issue.
One year later, Flotilla II, consisting of activists from twenty different countries aboard ten ships (including The Audacity of Hope, more commonly referenced as the US Boat to Gaza) is hoping to set sail if it can secure approval from the Greek government, which is being fierecly lobbied behind the scenes to scuttle the flotilla.
Time will tell if the ships will be allowed to proceed on their nonviolent mission. But something that is in all of our power is the ability to personally honor the the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement.
Peter Rothberg described in this space last summer, the boycotts, divestment initiatives and economic sanctions that comprise the call for BDS. If anything, the last year has shown that the call is now more urgent than ever and could be effective in helping force an end to the Israeli occupation of Gaza.
While it is no secret that much of the United States’ massive aid package to Israel helps finance the country’s illegal and inhuman occupation of Palestine, one of the better-kept secrets is the role that many popular American and international corporations play in enabling the occupation. Perhaps we don’t necessarily own a Motorola cell phone or regularly operate a Caterpillar bulldozer—but many of our universities’ endowments or retirement pension funds are actively invested in these companies.
Plenty of Americans are (unknowingly) supporting war profiteers.
Here are some of the worst offenders:
Motorola Inc. — Motorola, as in the cell phone company, plays a key role in many of sectors of the occupation. Motorola Israel, a subsidiary of Motorola Inc, is the central provider of bomb fuses to the Israeli Air Force (IAF). These fuses were highly used by the IDF during the destruction of Operation Cast Lead and the 2006 Lebanon War. In addition to manufacturing parts for weapons, Motorola is largely responsible for the Israeli Defense Force’s communications and surveillance technology. The surveillance “watch towers” that punctuate the separation barrier that segregates Palestine from the outside world are all operated by Motorola technology.
Caterpillar Inc. — Caterpillar (CAT) Bulldozers destroy Palestinian homes and olive trees (one of the primary sources of livelihood for many Palestinian families) to make room for illegal Israeli settlements, the separation barrier, and “Jewish-only” roads. American International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie died when she was crushed under a CAT Bulldozer.
Hewlett Packard (HP) — Hewlett Packard owns Electronic Data Systems, which is in charge of the technology monitoring checkpoints inside of Palestine. In addition, HP monitors the Israeli Navy’s entire IT operating system, which enabled last year’s attacks on the Freedom Flotilla.
General Electric (GE) — General Electric sells engines to Israel for a variety of military aircrafts.
United Technologies — United Technologies produces Blackhawk helicopters. These helicopters are used to attack Palestinian cities and refugee camps and are responsible for the lion’s share of Palestinian civilian deaths.
In addition, many retirement pension funds, most notably TIAA-CREF are hugely invested in several of the offending corporations. Several investors of conscience have started the “TIAA-CREF” divestment campaign, raising awareness around transparency issues with the fund and, most importantly, demanding that TIAA-CREF divest from these companies.
So what can you do?
Research any and all investments. Sign the TIAA-CREF petition. Avoid Motorola cell phones and HP Printers. Don’t buy Ahava beauty products. Do buy Palestinian olive oil.
Money speaks louder than megaphones—BDS!