Campaign of the Month: Military Embargo on Israel Now !

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On July 9, 2011 the BNC (BDS National Committee), the largest Palestinian civil society coalition, launched a call for a mandatory, comprehensive military embargo on Israel.

The BNC calls upon all people of conscience, movements and organisations worldwide to support the embargo and to pressure governments, multilateral bodies and the UN, as well as private and public companies and institutions, to:

  • 1. Cease forthwith any provision to Israel of arms and related materiel of all types, including the sale or transfer of weapons and ammunitions, military vehicles and equipment, para-military police equipment, including dual-use equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, and cease as well the provision of all types of equipment and supplies and grants of licensing arrangements for the manufacture of aforementioned or maintenance of the aforementioned;
  • 2. Stop all military and dual-use imports (equipment, assistance and munitions) from Israel;
  • 3. Stop the transfer of military products to and from Israel through national ports, territory and airspace;
  • 4. Stop cooperation with the Israeli army, military companies, and military-related R&D projects, including joint ventures (whether bilateral or multilateral);
  • 5. Halt all military-related training and consultancies involving the Israeli army, military companies and academic research institutions;
  • 6. End all military aid to Israel;
  • 7. Refrain from any cooperation with Israel in the manufacture and development of nuclear weapons and mobilize for a nuclear-free Middle East;

The military embargo on Israel forms a key component of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that has grown out of the Palestinian BDS call published exactly six years earlier, on July 9, 2005. The BNC has also published a document detailing the legal background, context of the Israeli military industry, international complicity with Israeli war crimes, and violations of international law and human rights related to its use of military force.

The perpetuity of Israeli wars, killings, policies of occupation, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing depend on international military relations. At the same time, those cooperating on a military basis with Israel are directly profiting from these policies and weapons, which are developed as a result of Israel's unlawful use of military force.

For Israel, war is a globalized enterprise. Israel is the 5th largest military exporter globally, its military exports constitute 7.3 percent of the GDP and with 6.5 million citizens, Israeli military spending ranks 6th in the world.

The Israeli military industry profits considerably from the Occupation of Palestine. In terms of marketing, every military operation acts as an advertisement for the weapons and techniques used. In terms of military development, Israel keeping a constant “battlefield” in Palestine and in neighbouring Arab countries, repressing daily Palestinian popular resistance, constitutes a significant testing ground for research and the development of its weaponry.

Israel's use of military force in the Arab-region has repeatedly been charged with violation of international law. In recent past, examples include the war on Lebanon in 2006, the brutal attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008/9, and the subsequent assault on international human rights defenders aboard the Freedom Flotilla in 2010, not to mention the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land aimed at territorial expansion through the annexation of occupied territory. Israel’s attempt to justify its illegal use of belligerent military force as “self-defence” does not stand up to legal or moral scrutiny. In 1982 a UN General Assembly Resolution recognized that “Israel’s record and actions confirm that it is not a peace-loving Member State” and called upon all UN member states to refrain from weapons trades with Israel along with other economic, diplomatic and cultural sanctions. Twenty-nine years later this resolution has yet to be enforced by the UN.

The aim of the embargo is to disrupt the global triangle of complicity, whereby the US offers the brunt of military aid and weapons to Israel, Europe crucially funds and supports joint military-related research, and the Global South (most importantly India, Turkey, Brazil, and Colombia) buy the majority of Israeli produced weapons.

When the BNC launched the call it was supported by civil society organisations, which represent millions of people from all across the globe. Various initiatives acting within the framework of the call for a military embargo have already been developed. In following this call for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel it is important to unite, focus, intensify, and expand on these efforts.

Pressure from grassroots activism, including direct action at arms factories, and lobbying efforts have pushed the United Kingdom to discontinue some licences for weapons exports to Israel. Norway banned Germany from testing submarines destined for the Israeli Navy in its waters. In Belgium, ministers initially welcomed a ban on arms exports to Israel, while Ireland has cancelled a $10 million deal with Israeli Military Industries for bullets.

A well-developed campaign targeting Elbit, one of Israel’s biggest military and homeland security companies building the illegal Wall and supporting settlements, has had impressive successes: 13 financial institutions have announced publicly that they will not accept Elbit in their portfolios. Currently, a large coalition of US civil society organisations aim to pressure TIAA-CREF, one of the world's largest retirement funds, to withdraw its nearly $1.7 million investments in Elbit. Efforts are underway to stop the European Union’s funding to Israeli military-related companies through research grants. The US Campaign against Israeli Occupation argues from a moral and financial perspective that the American people cannot afford to provide Israel with as much as $30 billion in military aid that is misused to sustain illegal policies.

A number of research efforts are already offering information to uncover military relations and cooperation with Israel. (Below is a list of useful links.)

The aim of the campaign for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel must develop coordinated efforts among Palestine solidarity, anti-arms trade, and anti-militarisation campaigns along with all those that stand for peace and justice to effectively implement:

Divestment campaigns: target banks, funds and other financial institutions to “defund Israeli wars” and withdraw investments in the Israeli military industry;
Sanctions campaigns: pressure governments to stop weapons transfers to or from Israel and to cease aid to the Israeli military and its research;
Corporate responsibility: pressure companies not to enter into contracts and joint ventures with Israeli military companies;
Labour action: stop the transfer of weapons to or from Israel in ports and airports;
Justice: hold Israeli war criminals and companies involved in war crimes responsible in national and international courts

For more information:
Info@bdsmovement.net or global@stopthewall.org
Palestinian sites:
http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/military-embargo
http://stopthewall.org/news/2577.shtml

Research on military relations:
http://www.negedneshek.org

Regional and National sites:

Europe:
http://disarmtheconflict.wordpress.com/

US:
http://aidtoisrael.org
http://weaponstoisrael.org
www.fundcommunityneeds.org

UK:
http://www.stoparmingisrael.org/

Spain:
http://www.centredelas.org/attachments/604_llibre_eng_armament.pdf

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