August 28, 2009

Profiting from the Israeli War Machine

(Updated below)

If I treated my dog as viciously as Israel treats the Palestinians, I’d be thrown into prison. And rightly so. For this is a government that regularly bombs civilian neighborhoods, steals water resources, and blocks basic humanitarian goods—things like pasta, school notebooks, and hearing aids—from entering the Gaza Strip.

All this death and destruction is made possible by numerous American corporations. Most of the usual suspects are to blame. For instance, Boeing (NYSE: BA), Raytheon (RTN), and Lockheed Martin (LMT) have long provided Israel with bombs, missiles, fighter jets, and attack helicopters. But there are many other American companies, some which you’d least expect, that also profit from the Israeli War Machine.

For example, there’s Motorola (MOT). Yes, you heard me right Motorola, maker of all those nifty little gadgets for your cell phones. Motorola, it turns out, also makes fuses for bombs. Those cluster bombs which Israel indiscriminately dropped in Lebanon in 2006 (many of which continue killing Lebanese children)—made with Motorola fuses. And those bombs it dropped throughout Gaza during Operation Cast Lead—also made with Motorola fuses. [After writing this post, I learned that Motorola no longer makes bomb fuses. See update below for more info.]

But more than just making bomb fuses, Motorola, which once supplied South Africa’s apartheid government with mobile radios, supplies Israel’s military with a state-of-the-art communications system. And just as South Africa’s police used their radios to “suppress demonstration against the government,” Israeli soldiers are currently using their fancy “Mountain Rose” system to suppress the nonviolent demonstrations in Bil’in. (Bil’in, in case you don’t know, is a small Palestinian village where activists regularly protest the construction of the Separation Wall.)

Caterpillar (CAT) also profits from Israeli death and destruction. For years now the Israeli army has used [.pdf] Caterpillar bulldozers in its major military operations. A bulldozer, you see, is the perfect weapon for leveling Palestinian orchards and homes. It also comes in handy if you ever need to mow down a peace activist. It was with a Caterpillar D9R armored bulldozer, you might remember, that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) killed American Rachel Corrie in 2003 while she tried to stop a Palestinian home from being destroyed.

For several years now, and especially since Corrie’s death, numerous human rights organizations have petitioned Caterpillar to stop selling this equipment to Israel. Not surprisingly, Caterpillar has refused, claiming that it has “neither the legal right nor the means to police individual use of that equipment.” What this really means, of course, is that it has neither the will nor decency to stop doing business with what very well might be its most lucrative client.

Next on the list is Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), followed by Ingersoll Rand (IR) and L-3 Communications (LLL). Hewlett-Packard’s subsidiary EDS-Israel built and continues to maintain biometric access control systems at several Israeli checkpoints, while the latter two companies have worked on various components for the systems. (See here for more about Ingersoll Rand, here for L-3 Communications.) Israel claims that it needs this technology to keep terrorists out, but the truth is that it’s been keeping all sorts of people out—including patients needing urgent medical care and law-abiding individuals trying to be reunited with their spouses.

Israel has even prevented many Palestinians who’ve been traveling abroad from returning to their homes in the Occupied Territories. And why, you might be wondering, would it do that? Because it seems to believes that all the land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea belongs to it. Thus, it continues building settlements in the West Bank. Bad news if you’re an Arab. Not such bad news if you’re a RE/MAX broker selling one of the many beautiful properties available in Occupied East Jerusalem. (RE/MAX is not publicly traded).

Other US companies that profit from the settlements include Celcom (CEL), Cemex (CX), General Mills (GIS), Unilever (UN), and Veolia Environnement (VE). For a complete list, see WhoProfits.Org.

[Originally posted at Divest from Death.]


Update: After writing this post, I learned that Motorola no longer makes bomb fuses. As the Global BDS Movement reported on April 3: “Motorola has sold a controversial unit that produced bomb fuses and other equipment for the Israeli military, according to the Israeli financial newspaper Globes. The sale rids Motorola of some activities that had made it the target of a growing boycott in the US and worldwide. No explanation was offered in the media reports for the sale by Motorola Israel - a wholly owned subsidiary of Motorola - of its unit called Government Electronics Department (GED) to the Israeli company Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd.”

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