Podcast Ep 49: How UK activists closed an Israeli arms factory for good

On episode 49, Nora and Asa speak with Adie Mormech and Max Geller of Palestine Action, the group that is organizing sustained direct actions at Israeli-owned Elbit Systems arms factories in the UK.

Mormech spoke to us just after celebrations near the Elbit Ferranti facility in Oldham, in the north of England, as the Israeli arms giant announced it had sold off that factory.

“It was just a massive blot on the landscape for a huge part of the community,” he says.

“But no one really saw or imagined the exact feeling of what it would be like when finally they say ‘enough is enough, we’re getting out of here. Elbit, Israel’s largest weapons company, is leaving.’ So today was raucous.”

Activists regularly smashed windows at the arms facility and daubed the building with red paint. They have even broken into the premises and caused damage inside. The site has been forced to close for days at a time and Palestine Action claims it has caused “millions in damages.”

The group says 36 of its activists have been arrested at the site since last year. But to date none has been successfully prosecuted.

“It’s clear that if the UK is not going to prosecute Palestine Action, Elbit is going to be left with very little options besides quitting the country,” says Geller.

The Ferranti components factory in Oldham was one of 10 sites Elbit owns in the UK.

“It’s a testament to a more militant version of BDS [the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign] that we’re seeing in the UK that I think we could see elsewhere with similar success,” Geller explains.

“For us it’s well worth it, it’s well worth spending a night in jail to enjoy the celebrations on the street when you actually shut down a factory and win.”

Mormech says that the driving ethos of the work that Palestine Action does is to “make it as hard for [Israeli arms companies] as possible because what they’re doing is obscene.”

Anyone who has been to Palestine, he says, “anyone that’s been in the hospital and has seen it up close, anyone that’s been in Gaza during the bombing, or even just during the aftermath, has seen it up close and they will be champing at the bit to say ‘right, okay, it’s time to act now. I’m not having them go through that again.’ And so really it is about upping it.”

“It’s about sticking your chest out and going for it because it’s the very, very least that Palestinians deserve,” he adds.

Articles we discussed

Full transcript

Lightly edited for clarity.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: And welcome back to The Electronic Intifada Podcast. I’m Nora Barrows-Friedman with my co-host, Asa Winstanley. And we are delighted to be joined by two members of Palestine Action in the UK, Max Geller and Adie Mormech. Adie, you’re actually outside right now, you just came back from a demonstration celebrating a significant victory for Palestine Action and for the Palestine solidarity movement as a whole. Tell us where you are and what this victory celebration was all about.

Adie Mormech: I’m actually still in Oldham, remarkably. There’s quite a lot of people have gone home by now. But we stayed around. There was a lot of the community came out today. Everybody was just absolutely over the moon. I had a young woman that was up to me today. And she said she just started crying straight away, she’d been to a lot of the demonstrations. But I think for a lot of the people there, I don’t think they know how it feels to actually gain a big victory. Because this is a hard-fought campaign. It was the last two years where things really, you know, upped. We upped the ante and there was a lot more activity, a lot more action, a lot more mobilization as a result from the community as well. And it was nonstop. And of course, with the brilliant direct action from Palestine Action, the actions that really woke a lot of people up and really raised the game for everybody and everything that we’re doing about this weapons factory here in Oldham, which is in the northwest of England and the only one in the north.

And was just a massive blot on the landscape for a huge part of the community. But no one really saw or imagined the exact feeling what it would be like when finally they say enough is enough: we’re getting out of here. Elbit, Israel’s largest weapons company, is leaving. So today was raucous. Today we were on fire and everybody was going for it. It was Elbit out of Oldham and just the incredible feeling for people that you can achieve massive things against huge, big businesses with huge resources, operating on such a high level of brutality and how to confront that as a local community with some help from the left of the Northwest. It was stunning today, absolutely wonderful. There’s some great, great scenes on video as well.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: For our listeners who may not be aware, Max, take us to what happened in Oldham, why it’s significant and what activists did to achieve this kind of victory against Elbit Systems, one of Israel’s largest weapons manufacturers.

Max Geller: There’s a great article on EI by Asa actually about this, which I encourage everyone to check out for background. But yesterday after years of campaigning, years of vigorous direct action campaigns, yesterday Elbit sold its interests in Oldham. They sold off its factory and permanently quit Oldham, shuttering its factory and selling off its assets at a big loss. By the way, they bought this factory for 6 million pounds more than they sold it, so…

Asa Winstanley: Right, wow. I hadn’t known that, I should have included that in my article. That’s really significant.

Max Geller: Yeah, so we’re just over the moon at having a really great result to prove to ourselves and the world that our tactics are working. There’s nine more facilities in the UK that Elbit owns and operates that we are now still campaigning against. And we’re not going to stop until we get rid of all of them. And yesterday was just the first sort of concrete instance of it working. Elbit has decided that the price tag is just too high. The cost of business knowing that every few weeks activists are going to prevent workers from carrying out work. And that literally every week, the community will come out and shut down the roads around the factory demanding that this factory close. Eventually Elbit just threw up their hands and they sold the factory. They said we can’t do this anymore. And to me, it’s the most exciting BDS victory that’s taken place for years. And I’m very excited and I’m excited about what’s gonna come next.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Adie can you give us a sense of the kind of spirits that activists there in Oldham are galvanizing in terms of: one down, nine to go? Talk about the movement right now and where this is going.

Adie Mormech: It’s just clear that this is what it takes. This is the formula for winning. You have to make the price too high, as Max said, because they’re not going to wander out easily. We’ve been doing this campaign for five years. And we had the stalls. We were doing the demonstrations out in front. We were obviously spreading awareness around the community and in the city of Oldham itself. And a lot of us were coming in from Manchester at the beginning. But now after a while of that, more and more people started getting involved in Oldham. You know, there was a little bit of movement on a political level, there was a lot of work done on that level, but not much was happening. So it was time for upping the ante. And we’ve got a history of direct action in Manchester: the suffragettes and many others, militant trade union movements and workers’ movements and anti-arms. Historically, they are the sharp edge of how to get things done. And it works especially well at Oldham, because we had a lot of other work going on, and groups that complemented each other and respected each other. We had about ten different groups there that we’ve worked together with really well from all over the Northwest. Today even they all turned up for the celebration. But ultimately, over a long period, there were people coming from Liverpool, from Sheffield, from Halifax, all over the different parts of the north that have contributed massively to these actions. And we’ve always had a host of people supporting those taking the direct action outside for support at the police stations, court support. And of course, crowds outside blocking the road every week – 31 weeks since May, people from the community. What are we doing there? We’re also educating while we’re there. We’re talking about Elbit, we’re talking about Israel’s arms, we’re talking about the situation in Palestine.

I was in Gaza for two years. So my students were killed by these weapons. And this was a direct connection for me and many others who’ve been to Palestine who were there and we’re transmitting exactly what these weapons are doing because my line is always the same. I was in al-Shifa hospital during the bombing in 2012, as the bodies were being brought in, as the injured were being brought in. I was in the intensive care units as little two-year-old Haneen was being rolled around gray and lifeless while their parents outside still had hope. And we knew she’d gone, with a brain hemorrhage. This was real. This is the connection. And so my feeling was, you treat these weapons companies like you’re running out of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, like you’re right in the middle of it all because if we are really all Palestinian, you need to take the appropriate action to show it. And if you can’t take that action, there’s a million different support jobs to do and there’s a million different actions to do to support the community.

So where are we at now? We have got a green light to replicate, because that’s a lot of what we were doing. We were often replicating the Raytheon victory in Ireland in 2006. And we brought in Colm Bryce, one of those activists and the others who smashed that factory, which galvanized the local population who got mobilized and won and forced Raytheon out of Derry. It’s not difficult, it’s just it does take a lot of work. And it takes a bit of guts. And it also takes a lot of sustainability to keep things going. But it shows that it can be done.

I was there at the demonstrations in Gaza, when they’re walking towards the borders, they get shot and killed. One of them did right next to me, when we had similar kinds of demonstrations in 2010, like the Great Return March, the Gaza Freedom March. And so this is the reality when they demonstrate. So the cost for us is less. It’s not easy. And I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park, but it is less and the effect can be huge. And just look at the results here at the Elbit-Ferranti factory to prove it and look at the scenes on the streets today. And the young people especially that have come out a lot, who now believe that they are not just observers, they are active agents who can do something about this horrible arms industry and Israel’s complicit companies here in England.

Asa Winstanley: I found it really quite amusing yesterday when I wrote my article, it was definitely a day of schadenfreude. It was great to see Elbit pulling out of this factory. I just found it quite funny the press releases they put out because it’s my job to read these things. And the kind of corporate-speak, the desperate spin they were putting on it as well was quite great.

Adie Mormech: It was really obvious as well, it wasn’t even that well hidden. I thought they’d be cleverer by now.

Asa Winstanley: They said the sale was a “reorganization” which would help them “focus activities on certain areas.” And that they were “consolidating their market position.” So you know, great. [Laughs] Long may they refocus their activities!

Adie Mormech: And I wasn’t surprised that their share price started plummeting after that.

Asa Winstanley: Again, this was something that I hadn’t thought to check. Actually, I only saw it on the Palestine Action Twitter afterwards. I mean, fantastic. The only thing these companies understand is to hit them in the bottom line.

Max Geller: And that’s what Palestine Action has done. We’ve taken over seventy actions in the last 12 months against Elbit in the UK. Seventy actions in which Palestine Actionists have taken arrest and we’ve cost Elbit tens of millions of pounds in doing this, costing them days at work, the cost of not doing business. One connection I think is really, really important to make is that this announcement comes one month after the acquittal of three Palestine Actionists for shutting down a factory elsewhere in the UK. It’s clear that if the UK is not going to prosecute Palestine Action, Elbit is going to be left with very little options besides quitting the country. I think what Adie said about Raytheon in the north of Ireland is really important. It’s really important to understand that there is precedent for these tactics working. Activists took on Raytheon in Derry and they didn’t stop until there was a court case. And when that court case went the activists’ way, Raytheon said, Well, this isn’t worth it. And so they left and delivered us the blueprint for the first step in the victory that we’re experiencing today. And we’re not going to stop until we’ve replicated that success.

And I really think it’s a testament to a more militant version of BDS that we’re seeing in the UK that I think we could see elsewhere with similar success. And I think it’s really important to examine Palestine Action’s tactics here because we’re an organization that really sort of acknowledges and embraces the cost that doing BDS work like this comes with. A lot of people will tell you that there is no cost or that if you tailor your campaign just so you won’t experience any backlash. For us it’s well worth spending a night in jail to enjoy the celebrations on the street when you actually shut down a factory and win.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: We talked with Huda and Richard before in one of our previous podcasts about the tactics here and what direct action really means when we talk about it. And in the US a lot of the campaigns are kind of a wide umbrella, there’s a lot of petitions, there’s a lot of appealing to the moral character of elected representatives. And that sometimes we get a nominal victory now and then. But what is the difference between that kind of campaigning and the kind of campaigning where members of Palestine Action are literally putting their bodies on the line, and on top of the roofs of these weapons factories? Why do you think it’s so important and really makes a difference here?

Adie Mormech: Direct action has always made a huge difference because you are actually changing what’s happening directly. It’s an obvious point, but if you’re going so indirectly, and at times it’s like almost controlled resistance they allow in western democracies, they want to give you the pretense that you have democratic avenues towards making change.

We’ve been sitting here watching Israel increase its weapon sales by hundreds of million pounds the more they killed in Gaza. They killed 2,200 people, 500 children in 51 days and then their weapon sales go up – 200 million up, from the UK it was after the 2014 bombings. So if they’re developing their weapons on Palestinians, their stock goes up. It is about upping the ante, because we were under the pretense that actually our meetings with the politicians were having an impact. And they weren’t close, and it needed that boost. And actually, prior to Palestine Action, there was like a precursor in Manchester, which is Manchester Palestine Action, which is still going and I’m still involved with, and we were doing direct action then. And I was doing quite a lot of it, in part because I knew that it was vital for winning campaigns in the past. And I’d seen Raytheon, I knew all about Raytheon, but I’d known about activists tearing up the cricket pitches in England to stop the South African apartheid regime from playing here while they didn’t allow Black players.

Obviously in Manchester we have the suffragettes and there’s a long history of smashing things up so far as they were about making an imprint on business as usual. We talked about Desmond Tutu and about how you can’t be neutral in times of oppression and there’s no business as usual. And this is the whole point – there can’t be any business as usual. And the level of atrocity, Britain, this tiny island here is still one of the largest exporters of weapons in the world. You think of the horrific weapons that are being used on so many populations around the world, and I saw it up close in Gaza, when I was there during the bombing. And you know that the level of action has to be higher than what’s happening now. Because it’s too easy to just normalize the ritual of going round in a circle on a demonstration or doing a talk and pretending that’s changing something.

Most of the time in Palestine, for me, if you’ve read a couple of books and had a couple of talks, it’s not that difficult, you’re almost there. And then it’s about changing things. And the only way in history changes happen is when people stepped up and put themselves in the way and it’s no secret that in, for example, the civil rights movement in America, a lot of those big moments were people breaking through what was a boundary.

We only ever got media at all, when there was a big direct action. Why? There’s a spark to that which says, this human being is doing something out of the ordinary for a particular cause. There must be something there. And that’s real. There’s a logic there. And of course there is a value that is taken away from that company. That company is a less effective arms company when those actions are taking place.

We know that that’s having an impact on that company. We know they’re worried about their stock market value. And so ultimately, we know we’re going to get there in the end. But actually it’s clear from history that direct action has always had an effect. And it’s clear that this has had a major imprint: Palestine Action. Everybody was saying it: all the locals, the local groups, whether it’s United for Palestine, Oldham Peace and Justice, all the Manchester groups, Manchester PSC even, and all the others were saying: Palestine Action’s effect on this particular campaign has been the most important, because it upped the ante like nothing before, and it got a lot of locals doing a lot more who were inspired by it.

What was most important is we maintained the narrative about Palestine. And we brought it back to the Palestinians. And of course, me, I was in Gaza for two years: my message box is full, from my friends and my ex-students in Gaza, many of whom had lost so many people, and they are over the moon. So if you’re having a direct impact, like that, it is worth it. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Asa Winstanley: What was really great to see this past spring-summer during the latest Israeli war, against the civilian population in Palestine as a whole, really, but especially in the Gaza Strip was the kind of spark of light was the Palestine Action actions in the UK against Elbit factories and how people were coming out, as you’ve been describing from the local community, spontaneously. Or semi-spontaneously, the groundwork has been laid for so long. And people just coming out and you’re having these real boosts of people coming and supporting you not necessarily like scaling the rooftop but supporting people who are doing so. And just this big upsurge in support, it was really great to see and it’s clearly making a big difference. I think it’s important to emphasize as well that while there’s all different roles within what you’ve been doing, so maybe necessarily the sabotage of like smashing windows and scaling the factories that you’ve been doing. It might not necessarily be for everyone.

But I think it’s important to say there’s these different roles and also that you’re not just going in mindlessly smashing things up, that there is an actual legal strategy in place here which is supported by lawyers.

You’ve done so many of these actions, even going so far as to smash windows and to deface Elbit’s property. But not a single person has been successfully prosecuted for any of this for any so-called criminal damage and so forth. And now, as Max mentioned, in December, we have this legal precedent of three Palestine Action activists who defaced one of Elbit’s factories in Shenstone, I believe it was near Birmingham, right? They were all acquitted, found not guilty of criminal damage by a jury. And the reason being is because of the legal argument that was made by a lawyer which you’ve been making all along, which is that: yes, we’re not trying to pretend we didn’t do anything we did. Yes, we damaged these factories, but it’s not criminal damage, because we are acting proportionately to prevent war crimes in Palestine by the Israeli occupation authorities. It’s quite a similar legal strategy to what was just done in Bristol, with the Colston Four who threw this statue of a slave owner, mass murderer Robert Colson into the Bristol docks. They made a, in some ways similar argument saying that the presence of this statue was actually a hate crime against the multicultural population of Bristol. And so therefore, although yes, we’ve damaged the statue, it was a proportionate action to prevent a greater crime. So we’re seeing a really good, really good precedents being set here. And it can work. This is the main message.

Max Geller: Totally. The thing I’m most proud of is just the extent to which Palestine Action continues to show up. These aren’t one-offs, right? These aren’t single things that just happen one time: we show up at these factories, and then we come back and we promise everybody that we will continue to come back until these factories are gone. Sit-ins at lunch counters in the US would never have made a difference if they were just one-offs. Those people came and kept coming back every day. Getting arrested week-in and week-out until the dilemma that they caused those business owners was too great. And that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to, unlike some of the non-BDS-supporting direct action that we’ve seen in the US, which are just one-offs. It’s great to protest outside AIPAC. But if If Not Now is going to be a serious direct action group, they have to show up and keep showing up.

And one thing that Palestine Action is very proud of is that we are proud supporters of the BDS movement. And we understand our work as part of this BDS movement against the Israeli arms trade. But we are not doing flash mobs and signing petitions. We are putting ourselves directly against the sort of pointy end of state power here. Activists had their houses searched, we’ve had activists arrested like myself, we’ve had passports seized. But this isn’t just using our privilege. This is building an actual coalition to put ourselves in between the state and Palestine, which is a very tense and intense place to be, but it’s effective. And I think I appreciate and I understand very well the differences between UK law and US law. I mean, I think a lot of our American friends listening to this would say, Well if we got on the rooftops of an American factory, they would just firehose us directly into a paddy wagon. And that would be that. And I think that’s true. And I think it’s important to understand that there are differences in the countries we all live in, and the context that we’re all in. But I also think it’s really important to sort of understand where the pro-Palestine NGOs are at with this kind of tactic. Why don’t the bigger NGOs in the states have a bail fund for BDS activists who are willing to take arrest? Why is that not more worthwhile than, say, spending a lot of money lobbying Congress for victories that are only as deep as Jamal Bowman’s character, you know, which is …

Asa Winstanley: For politicians to admit that perhaps Palestinians may possibly be human? And that’s the crumbs we’re looking for.

Max Geller: These are important questions that people doing this work need to be asking themselves and conversations we as a movement need to be having, which is priorities. Because we could be prioritizing direct arrestable action in the States with bail funds and other tactics. We’re just not doing that. And I think it’s worth exploring, because in the UK, it is working and we are seeing incredible successes, more impressive than any of the ones I’ve ever been a part of in the States, because as we all know weapons are the primary export of the Israeli economy. This is hitting Israel, and the Western empire in general, where it really hurts. And it’s important to understand who our enemies are and where their power comes from and plan our targets accordingly.

Adie Mormech: To touch on the court case, very briefly, I just wanted to add, it was actually it was a magistrate’s court that the three – because I was there – that the three activists got off and it was actually a judge.

Asa Winstanley: You’re right. Sorry, yes, I stand corrected. Yeah, not a jury.

Adie Mormech: It’s an interesting point because that’s even bigger: to convince a judge. It’s easier to convince a jury. In the Colston statue, that was a jury. You are bringing in real human things that many people on the ground know about. And the same here. It was actually the judge that responded to the narratives of the defendants, about the connections as to where these weapons were going as to what does justify an appropriate reaction to the making of those weapons when those weapons are clearly being a) tested on a population in Gaza that’s mostly children and b) being sold abroad or used by Israel itself to decimate that population further. So this argument is there to be made, they have excellent lawyers. And this is also in part because it’s the legal case which is so crucial here, because we’ve seen again and again these actions really raised the game in the last year, our regular direct action on Elbit, we would get off all the time. I was on the roof of this Elbit arms factory in Oldham about two years ago. And we were on the roof for three days. We shut it for two days and then obviously we were arrested and we’re there in the cell. And then we go, we get led out, and it says no further action. I mean, normally we get a court case, and we start building up towards it, then they drop it, and actually it’s the Crown Prosecution Service that usually gets tired of not getting what they want from Elbit because we come with a big shopping list, wanting to know exactly what Elbit is making, what they’re doing, and the weapons licenses, who they’re selling to. That’s what we need, that’s our defense because it is about stopping a greater crime. And so not only did I get let out with no further action, but the Monday I went into the police station and took all my climbing equipment back. That’s the extent to which Elbit was willing to be hands-off.

So obviously they’ve got something to hide. I think this onslaught to expose what [an] arms factory is doing has never happened before. And so they’ve been really quite happy and complacent and undercover. A bit like the Conservative Party doing all these Christmas jollies during COVID. They think they’re that untouchable that they’ve probably been getting away with all kinds of things, even on top of just the trade they’re in, which is a toxic industry. So this is why they’ve been running scared.

And of course, I think Palestine Action has done an incredible job at seeing that. Seeing that weakness about specifically arms companies, especially Israel’s worst arms company, when Israel itself is finally being exposed as the apartheid state that anyone that has been there can see it clearly is. So I think there’s a lot of different tactical aspects of this, which are very clever from Palestine Action to understand the current geopolitics of what Israel is in the world, to understand the current movement on the ground, because there is a lot of people that have joined this movement that believe me had no place in the usual organizations that were doing things on Palestine, they are mostly new people that have come forward, that were not doing anything on Palestine and didn’t have an in. Why? Because they wanted this direct action route, they wanted to do something that was going to be for them much more impactful on an immediate level. And then a lot of those are young people. And we all know that a lot of our organizations are not incorporating enough young people. And of course, that was where the energy was in May, for the masses around the world. And you can see that they’re champing at the bit.

And again, like you say, of course it doesn’t have to be the most sharp end of direct action. But even our demonstrations outside the front of Elbit in Oldham, we were closing the road down every time. So we were taking that extra step and pushing a bit harder. And of course, that complimented superbly, the very courageous activist that got on the roof and got inside the factories. And that was the one that caused so much trouble because when I was on the roof a couple of years ago, we were happy that we’d shut it down. But in fact, probably the bosses were sitting around the table going well, at least nothing’s been damaged. So you put yourself in their shoes and then think, Well, what did they not want us to do? Whenever I’m not sure about what I should be doing about, you know, trying to work hard to stop complicit companies in the UK or doing stuff to support Palestinians. I asked myself, What does Israel not want us to do? And what do the Israeli arms companies not want us to do? We want to make it as hard for them as possible because what they’re doing is obscene. And anyone that’s been in those hospitals has seen it up close. Anyone that’s been in Gaza during the bombing, or even just during the aftermath, has seen it up close and they will be champing at the bit to say right okay, it’s time to act now. I’m not having them go through that again. And so really it is about upping it. It’s about sticking your chest out and going for it because it’s the very very least that Palestinians deserve.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Beautifully said.

Asa Winstanley: So today is a day of victory and hope and hopefully these kinds of victories can keep coming throughout the year. But what’s the potential backlash? And you’re absolutely right to point out that this was contrary to what I said earlier, it wasn’t a jury, it was a magistrate. So it was just a judge making this [decision] so it’s even better in a way. But the Conservative government in response to the Colston Four case that I mentioned earlier, are now making rumblings about potentially changing the law in some way to “Save Our Statues” of all these remaining racists that we have up in this country being honored. And of course the Conservative government for years now has been saying they’re going to ban BDS, which, personally, I think is impossible. And they keep saying they’re going to do it, and then they don’t really do it. Nonetheless, you as Palestine Action have had a lot of oppression against you. You’ve been threatened with all sorts of things, including even vague threats about increasing, so-called anti-terrorism law measures against you. What other potential backlash could you face now? And what concerns do you have going forward?

Max Geller: I think it’s important to recognize that from the US context: the Midwest 13, the Rasmea Odeh case etc. Palestine activists are always sort of facing that state repression. They don’t need to change the law in order to target Palestine activists, whether they’re in the US or the UK. The Holy Land Five is another great example. They will use anti-terrorism laws against Palestine whenever they can. And we’ve had anti-terrorism police in the UK seize the passports of Palestine Actionists. These forms of state repression are nothing new and nothing we’re not prepared for. It’s part of our strategy to create these dilemmas for the British government. In the last year we’ve had hundreds of people arrested doing Palestine Action actions. Some people have been arrested multiple times. Are they really going to try and put us all in jail for 10 years? We don’t believe that there’s the political will in this country to do that. And so that’s not a fear tactic that we’re really going to respond to. We’ve had an unbelievable outpouring in the last week since the magistrate cleared those three brave actionists. People who said, Oh, well, if they can get off, we want to join up. And I think we’re, you know, planning our next waves of factory occupations are planning our next waves of lock-ons. The acquittals and the threats really just serve to galvanize us. We’re not going anywhere, is the important message here. The threats are really nothing new either. The movement isn’t going anywhere.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: If people want to learn more about the work that Palestine Action does and possibly join the movement, where can they go?

Max Geller: We have a great website, recently hacked but back online, PalestineAction.org. There’s a secure donation link there too. You can help us pay for ladders and climbing equipment. We’ve lost over 70 ladders to the British government since Palestine Action has started. But the hacking of our website, the throwing us off of fundraising platforms, these are all things that the movement is actually strong enough to withstand if we are clear about what’s happening. And if we draw upon as much support as we actually have, which is global and grassroots.

Adie Mormech: On that: a big, big important thing is, especially if you’re not able to participate, then donate, you know, this is just an arms factory. This is one of the biggest sort of actions that were successful in the UK, this campaign to shut down literally an entire arms company from a city, it’s the only arms factory from Elbit in the north of England, there were four altogether. So this is a prolonged campaign that we’ve won. But obviously, it takes resources and there’s a whole lot of money swishing around for Palestine. But actually, you know, a lot of the people from Gaza were telling me, this is a political problem. This is not an environmental disaster. Where just: we’re gonna keep spending stacks of cash on putting plasters on the sores of what will continue if there’s no political solution. So where does politics start for this kind of situation?

It’s just like with the anti-apartheid movement, where they need international support, and we need to break the chains, especially with arms, because it’s the weapons companies that are the most complicit that are the worst, especially the Israeli weapons company Elbit System. So donate: donate and help Palestine Action. And I wanted to add in terms of what the government can do, the government is always going to have powers to do things against normal people. Look at the civil rights movement in America, look at the Black Panthers: people were destroyed. People were imprisoned and tortured and killed in prison trying to escape, like George Jackson and so many others. So there’s a history of people probably even in Western countries who’ve had to face much worse than what people who are taking on these arms factories are going to face. Yes, there could be a cost. But ultimately, there has always been a cost for actions that shut down enormously important and powerful arms companies.

It’s very rare that such an enormous organization, and all the resources behind it, gets shut down. And the only way it’s going to happen is if people take a bit of a risk here and there. And that’s all that we’re asking really, is that people just go a bit further. And again, if not to do that, try and support in lots of other ways. Because believe me, the majority of people around the autumn campaign were locals from the community that could just do anything they could. And they were just as important as anybody else for this campaign. And they chipped in enormously and even today, the feeling and the warmth from everybody, the locals there, and just everybody patting each other on the back. And we’re just giving rounds of applause to about 50 different people. It was just epic. But again, it was the sharp edge of the direct action that really got things moving and made it happen and we’re all just gonna carry on celebrating this evening. And but most importantly, like I said, we gave a minute’s silence for all the victims of these Israeli weapons today, we thought about so many of those that we had described on the demonstrations and keep maintaining that connect, keep maintaining the Palestinians at the center of this, because they are the ones that are really having to take the sharp end of what is happening and we will not stop until finally they get to live the same normal lives that we might hope for.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Thank you. Thank you so much for all that you do. And of course all the incredible campaigning that Palestine Action does. We are excited to have you back on the podcast to celebrate the next victory. Max Geller and Adie Mormech. Thank you so much for being with us on The Electronic Intifada Podcast.

Adie Mormech: Thank you, take care.

Video production by Tamara Nassar

Theme music by Sharif Zakout

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Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).