Above: A photo by Dennis Jarvis from Flickr.
Both home and abroad, companies are profiteering left, right and centre from the Israel apartheid state. kev squires give us the lowdown on six companies that directly benefit from the occupation and put a corporate sheen over Isreal’s continued barbarity.
HP is up to its eyes in profiteering from Israel’s occupation and human rights abuses. HP’s technology and equipment facilitate Israel’s brutal decades-long military occupation of Palestine and the associated apartheid regime, war crimes and ongoing colonisation. It does this in a variety of ways, especially through the development of Israel’s biometric system used for population and territorial control and surveillance of Palestinians both inside Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory.
In addition, HP provides the IT infrastructure for the Israeli Navy, thereby helping to enforce the blockade of Gaza, and supplies the computer systems for the Ministry of Defense. HP employs illegal settlers in Beithar Illit and provides services and technologies to two of the largest settlements in the occupied West Bank. HP’s Basel system is installed at the Israeli military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank which deprive Palestinians of freedom of movement in violation of international law. There is a global campaign urging people to boycott HP until it ceases making money from the oppression of Palestinians.
Bank of Ireland
In 2016, the Bank of Ireland came under severe criticism when it unilaterally and without giving an actual reason closed the accounts of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), who had banked with them for 15 years. The IPSC lobbied relentlessly for months seeking an explanation for the closures, but none were forthcoming. Meanwhile, Bank of Ireland officials were spotted in Israel on an IDA (ie, taxpayer funded) junket entertaining prospective clients with whiskey tasting sessions.
The IPSC has asked people to consider whether they wish to continue banking with an organisation seemingly so hostile to Palestinian rights. As an aside, it has also been revealed that the BOI is training its staff in Krav Maga – the martial art developed on indigenous Palestinians by Israel’s colonial occupation forces.
The financial transaction giant has come under harsh criticism from human rights activists for refusing its services to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, while allowing Israelis who live in illegal settlements on Palestinian land to use it unhindered. PayPal operates in 203 countries, but has never allowed Palestinians to avail of its near-monopoly services. This has badly impacted upon the Palestinian tech and artisanal export sectors in particular.
It’s probably no surprise that the company that made a fortune from figuring out how to monetise couch-surfing – and drive up rents in the process – is happy to take its cut from the expulsion of Palestinians from their land. AirBnb is the subject of a global campaign calling upon it to refuse to allow rentals in Israel’s illegal settlements.
Over 150,000 people around the world signed a petition demanding Airbnb immediately end this practice, and the petition was handed in to AirBnb’s headquarters in the tax avoidance heartlands of Dublin’s docks.
While not in the same league as the other four in this list, the small Irish health start up MediMee is the latest winner of Start TLV, the joint techwashing venture cooked up between the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Ireland-Israel Business Network. Like GirlCrew, Bizimply, LogoGrab and Trustev before them, they happily accepted an award from the Israeli Ambassador after winning the competition in August, and will soon travel to Israel on an all-expenses paid trip that will help to continue the promotion of ‘Brand Israel’ amongst Irish start ups. In a supreme irony, this year’s Start TLV was billed as being all about “Health and wellbeing”, and took place at a time when the World Health Organisation reported that “Deep power cuts, the lack of fuel for generators for hospitals, and the shortage in medicines and supplies are placing more lives at risk every day and bringing Gaza’s health sector to its knees”.
Not content with enforcing some of the most ridiculous censorship on the net (eg, banning supporters of the Kurdish YPG from posting, threatening antifascist pages with closure, etc), the Big Daddy of social media has been working behind the scenes with the Israeli government to clamp down on what it calls ‘Palestinian incitement’. The Israeli government is working hard to enforce legislation that will compel social media outlets to ban content that Israel claims “incites violence”. Basically it is trying to make Facebook censor any content deemed by Israeli officials to be improper.
Sadly, Facebook it seems is more than happy to do its part by working hand in hand with the Israeli government; Ayelet Shaked, the Israeli Minister who posted (ironically, on Facebook) her genocidal desires to wipe out “the entire Palestinian people [because it] is the enemy” noted that between May and September 2016, she submitted almost 160 requests to Facebook to remove content, and in 95% of cases Facebook acted on her orders.
Not long afterwards, Facebook began shutting down the accounts of Palestinian journalists – it seems that reporting the truth about Israel’s occupation is too ‘inciteful’ for Facebook and the Israeli government.