The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel 5 April 2009
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.
The sale came just days after a 30 March protest in Brooklyn by The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (NYCBI) kicking off a city-wide campaign to boycott Motorola over its support for Israeli apartheid. Ryvka Bar Zohar from NYCBI commented, “We are heartened that Motorola has eliminated at least its production of bomb fuses for bombs that Israel dropped on the Palestinian and Lebanese people. But we will continue our campaign to boycott Motorola until it is clear that it has eliminated production and sale of all products used to support Israeli apartheid.”
Human rights advocates in Boston and California also recently protested against Motorola. These campaigns build on the national “Hang Up on Motorola” campaign initiated by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, as well as initiatives by the Presbyterian and Methodist churches. University students have also recently taken up the call to boycott Motorola, achieving a divestment success at Hampshire College. Previously, Motorola had been the target of a successful boycott campaign for its support of the government of apartheid South Africa.
Motorola Israel produced fuses used in cluster, “bunker-buster,” and other bombs. Cluster bombs are specifically condemned by an international consensus of human rights organizations, and banned by many countries. The US government has voiced concern over the use of these bombs and recently took steps towards a complete ban on their use. Human Rights Watch researchers reported that they found Motorola parts at the site of the bombing that began Israel’s latest assault on Gaza that killed around 1,400 Palestinians, more than 400 of whom were children.
While the sale of GED eliminates Motorola’s production and sale of bomb fuses, it has not yet been verified whether the sale of GED will rid Motorola of all other products that are boycott targets. Motorola Israel acquired a $100 million contract to provide a data encrypted cellular network, “Mountain Rose,” to allow the Israeli army, which consistently and severely violates Palestinian human rights, to communicate securely anywhere they operate. Motorola supplied the Israeli military with the Wide Area Surveillance System (WASS) and other high-tech configurations of radar devices and thermal cameras. These surveillance systems are installed around Israeli settlement/colonies and the apartheid wall, both of which Israel has constructed in the Palestinian West Bank in violation of international law.
On 30 March, NYCBI organized more than 50 New Yorkers in a morning protest outside the Motorola office in Brooklyn. Protest chants included: “No More Fuses, No More Bombs, Moto’s Killing Kids and Moms,” and “Motorola You Can’t Hide, You’re Supporting Apartheid.” Signs read “Goodbye Moto! Goodbye Apartheid!,” and “Israeli Apartheid, We Don’t Buy It, Boycott Motorola.” The protest coincided with Palestinians’ annual commemoration of Land Day, and was part of the Global Day of Action for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel, that included more than 40 events worldwide. An NYCBI online Motorola boycott pledge has very quickly gained over 160 signatories.
In 2005, following 13 years of fruitless negotiations that were accompanied by continued Israeli human rights abuses, hundreds of Palestinian civil society organizations called on the world to implement campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli institutions and businesses. Supporters of the growing worldwide BDS movement argue that a moral campaign of nonviolent public pressure like that used to topple apartheid in South Africa will pressure Israel to change its treatment of Palestinians. Adalah-NY, a member group in NYCBI, has carried out a highly successful New York campaign to boycott diamond mogul and Israeli settlement-builder Lev Leviev.