In the lead up to the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world prepare for a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.
At the same time, it is also a time of despair, knowing that Israel will use Ramadan as another excuse to attack the Palestinian people. If history teaches us anything, it is that Israel always chooses the most sacred of the year for Palestinian Muslims to target and inflict violence upon them.
For those of us living in Britain, Ramadan should also serve as a reminder to show solidarity with the Palestinian people. But what does that mean in practice when we live in a country that is so closely allied with Israel?
“For those of us living in Britain, Ramadan should also serve as a reminder to show solidarity with the Palestinian people. But what does that mean in practice when we live in a country that is so closely allied with Israel?”
We’re never short of a duty and an opportunity to dismantle the material links that uphold Israel’s apartheid regime. At the heart of global complicity with Israeli apartheid and human rights abuses is the normalisation of Israel’s practices.
Stemming from the British establishment’s entrenched ties with the Israeli state, other institutions have been given the authorisation to carry out and profit from the oppression of the Palestinian people. And the more links there are, the more ‘normal’ it becomes to cash in on the suffering of others across the world.
This practice of normalisation has literally trickled down support for Israel’s military into our towns and cities, universities, councils, financial institutions and even the local corner shop. So, for this month, and every month ahead of us, we must act to shatter these material links that uphold Israel’s apartheid regime until Palestine is free.
Here is a breakdown of some of those crucial connections that we must break:
This #Ramadan, as Palestinians gather to break their fasts and celebrate the holy month, Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate has once again become the centre of Israeli violence against Palestinians.
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1) Boycotting Israeli products, especially dates during Ramadan
Every Ramadan, there are supermarkets and shops waiting to capitalise on the holy month for Muslims. But what they don’t often put on the packet of their products is that many of these products come directly from Israel’s settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.
Every Israeli settlement is in direct violation of international law, constituting a war crime. A war crime that even the British government recognises, yet they’re still happy for us to finance the settlement market. In 2018, the UK was Israel’s largest market for dates, worth over £20,000,000.
Not only is Israel able to profit from the holy month for Muslims whilst simultaneously attacking, murdering and arresting Palestinians at Al-Aqsa mosque, but it also makes it impossible for Palestinian farmers to compete in the market. This is done by imposing ridiculous tax rates, thereby raising the prices, and making it inaccessible for capitalist supermarkets to purchase.
After all, there’s little profit in solidarity.
2) Holding British universities accountable
British universities love to brand themselves as outstanding pillars of society that uphold civilisation and enshrine values of equality, justice and social responsibility, but they fail to brag about how they directly enable the massacre of brown and black people across the world.
Many universities have large investment funds, financed partly by tuition fees, that are funnelled into companies building weapons to actively destroy indigenous communities across the world, including in Palestine, Afghanistan, Yemen and beyond. Such companies include British arms firm, BAE Systems and Israel’s largest arms maker, Elbit Systems.
Their complicity isn’t limited to financing complicit corporations. Research departments develop components, technologies and weapons, which often land in the hands of Israel’s military. In fact, Elbit’s latest venture involves working directly with the University of Lincoln and other weapons companies, under the ‘Team Fisher’ banner, to modernise the Royal Navy.
The only thing they’re fishing for is profits from the business of bloodshed. Together, they collaborate on boosting Elbit’s reputation to make lucrative contracts between Israel’s military and the British navy.
“Many universities have large investment funds, financed partly by tuition fees, that are funnelled into companies building weapons to actively destroy indigenous communities across the world”
3) Divesting local government pension schemes
Most people see their local council as a body that maintains roads, collects your rubbish, and implements local services. However, just like universities, local councils conveniently forget to mention their investments into the destruction of Palestine. Local Government Pension Schemes, via the local council, funnel billions into the arms trade and other complicit corporations.
For example, Hackney Pension Fund alone invests £28 million into companies designated by the United Nations as being complicit in the growth of Israel’s illegal settlements. One such company is the notorious Elbit Systems. Norway’s pension fund, Australia’s future fund and even HSBC all refuse to place funds in Elbit, who market their weapons as ‘battle-tested’ on the Palestinian people.
4) Shutting down Elbit Systems
Israel is literally building weapons on our doorsteps. Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms firm, has 9 sites across Britain. Behind closed doors, Elbit is quite literally make a killing from the oppression of the Palestinian people.
Being one of the only weapons companies in the world to use an occupied people as their testing site gives them a lucrative selling point to export their weapons across the world. And they’re given a free pass by the British government to build such arms in our towns and cities.
Some of these sites are in cities with a dominant Muslim demographic. This includes the Kashmiri community, who are one of the main targets for Israel’s arms trade, with India being Israel’s largest importer of arms. For example, Elbit has a factory in Leicester, partly owned by the French arms company Thales, where it is building drones. One export licence in 2020 shows over £5 million in arms being sent directly to Israel.
But we can make Elbit’s audacious placement of their factories their biggest downfall. Palestine Action has made Elbit Systems their number one target. And it’s a target that we all can rally behind.
“If we want to win the tournament we’re forced into and defeat Israeli apartheid, then we must actively fight against it. And to do that means tearing down the links that uphold it on our doorsteps”
Ramadan: A call to action
In Britain, we are party of a system that is deeply entrenched and complicity in Israel’s apartheid regime. Boycotting Israeli products and divesting from companies that profit from the oppression of the Palestinian people only puts us on level par.
If we want to win the tournament we’re forced into and defeat Israeli apartheid, then we must actively fight against it. And to do that means tearing down the links that uphold it on our doorsteps. Only then can we say we have shown our full solidarity with the oppressed.
Huda Ammori is a co-founder of the direct action network Palestine Action and has conducted extensive research and campaigns targeting British complicity with Israeli apartheid.
Follow her on Twitter: @HudaAmmori
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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.
This content was originally published here.