Two peoples live in the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. One group has freedom, mobility and control over natural resources. The other group has seen its freedom taken away, its mobility limited, its access to resources and farmland denied.
More than one million Palestinians have watched their homes confiscated or destroyed by Israel. Many live in refugee camps with their descendants, or as exiles in other countries. Israelis travel easily over 700 kilometers of segregated roads built inside Palestinian territory, while Palestinians wait in long, hot lines at checkpoints that separate their towns, impeding access to hospitals, schools and jobs.
The continued occupation of land seized by Israel from its neighbors in 1967 is illegal under international law, as are the settlements that now house more than 420,000 people on Palestinian land in the West Bank. These settlements and Israeli citizens take 83% of the Palestinians’ water supply, leaving them with desperate shortages. Israel is in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and at least 35 UN Resolutions.
The Separation Wall being built inside Palestinian territory annexes 10% of the West Bank’s most fertile land to Israel. Israel has also announced its intention to keep the Jordan Valley, which comprises the eastern third of the West Bank. Portrayed as a sacrifice, Ehud Olmert’s “withdrawal” plan would retain these valuable areas and major settlements, leaving almost half of the West Bank under Israeli control. There will be nothing left for a Palestinian state except three isolated ghettos in the West Bank and one large walled prison in Gaza.
Israel’s actions toward the Palestinian people and the Lebanese people have been deemed “war crimes” by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other respected groups. Using arms supplied largely by US companies, Israel killed more than 500 Palestinians and 1200 Lebanese during the first ten months of 2006. Most of these were civilians.
Israel represents one of the largest markets for US military products. According to the Arms Trade Resource Center in New York, “The bulk of Israel’s current arsenal is composed of equipment supplied under U.S. military aid programs.” Paid for by taxpayers, these weapons sustain the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. American companies and their investors also make tremendous profits from these sales.
For every finished weapon or system, there are scores of companies that manufacture component parts. In many cases, these subcontractors sit at the table with Israeli military procurement teams, discussing the specific requirements of the Israeli buyers for the finished product. Any company providing components or equipment to the Israeli military is supporting the agent of occupation.
Shareholders and consumers possess enormous economic leverage that can influence the behavior of companies, and ultimately change the policies of governments. When companies sell products to a country that consistently uses them to violate human rights, these groups have a responsibility to act.
Selective divestment, boycotts, and corporate engagement are not intended to harm the Israeli economy. Only a few companies listed here are Israeli. However, such actions can send a message to US and foreign companies that there is a significant cost to supporting Israel’s occupation. They can also help end a system that transfers money from US taxpayers into the pockets of corporations and political leaders using the conduit of Israel’s military procurement.
Congress approves billions of dollars each year for Israel, knowing full well that a large portion of these funds will flow back to their states in the form of contracts for military supplies. Corporations receiving these contracts then contribute to members of Congress. It is enormously profitable to these companies and politicians to keep Israel at war.
Israel’s military leaders profit as well. In a recent article, Israeli writer Yitzhak Laor stated, “Even while they are still serving, our generals become friendly with the US companies that sell arms to Israel; they then retire, loaded with money, and become corporate executives. The IDF is the biggest customer for everything and anything in Israel. In addition, our high-tech industries are staffed by a mixture of military and ex-military who work closely with the Western military complex…”
This system has had devastating consequences for Israeli society, with a quarter of the population living in poverty while their defense establishment prospers. It also discourages efforts toward peace.
In our religious organizations, our towns and our individual investment portfolios, we have become unwitting participants in this ethos of destruction. We have an opportunity to change it through economic action. It is hoped that this research will provide a framework for beginning.
Please note: Using the sources provided, each investor or investment manager has the freedom to interpret whether the relationship to the occupation warrants divestment, or whether engagement with these companies will be effective. Many of the companies listed are not publicly traded. However, they are located in our communities, and consumer action as well as public discussion of these relationships may have a significant impact.
This material will be updated as new information becomes available. Careful checking of facts and confirmation through added sources is ongoing. Constructive feedback is welcome and should be directed to email@example.com.
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