By Yvonne Ridley
We never seem to learn the lessons of history, not even from the most recent events in our life. Just today, for example, I got a feeling of déjà vu when I saw in my email a press release from the anti-poverty charity War on Want.
The organization launches a campaign to urge people to force Barclays Bank to end its support for apartheid. I stopped dealing with Barclays in the early 1980s due to their support for apartheid in South Africa, and now I’m told that Barclays has once again embarked on a merry merry-go-round of pro-apartheid banking.
Apparently, the World Bank provides billions of pounds in investments and loans to arms companies that sell arms and military technology to the apartheid state of Israel. “It actively arms, supports and benefits from Israel’s violence against the Palestinian people,” War on Want said.
Barclays did the same in South Africa during the rule of the white minority, when the apartheid government persecuted and repressed the “non-white” population.
I had not reopened an account with Barclays after the collapse of the apartheid state and the election of Nelson Mandela as president of the new, truly democratic South Africa. And I certainly won’t reopen anytime soon as it seems the same is happening with apartheid Israel.
This leads me to despair and I don’t understand why Barclays has once again positioned itself on the wrong side of history. And I hope that many of your clients will follow my example and close their accounts, because this way of protesting works well.
The anti-apartheid campaign to force Barclays Bank to leave South Africa began in 1970 and had left the country in 1986, although, in fact, it was only replaced by the First National Bank, whose logo was suspiciously close to that of South Africa. Barclays.
When the apartheid government in Pretoria declared downtown Johannesburg a “white zone” under the Communal Areas Act, the “non-white” residents were evicted without compensation.
Barclays / FNB and other companies have benefited from this ethnic cleansing, which continues today in the apartheid state of Israel, under the pretext of euphemisms such as “expulsion” and “displacement”, in places like the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem.
Israelis hate drawing parallels between their rogue Zionist state and apartheid South Africa. They even scornfully brushed off the term apartheid state.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was slow to realize this, but ended up using the term in an open message to “London apartheid protesters” in 1985. The organization expressed its support to the “fighting masses in South Africa”, and stressed that “our stone throwers and our fighters have the same inextinguishable thirst for freedom and justice”.
The conclusion was factual and unambiguous: “Zionism is apartheid – both systems are based on notions of racial supremacy. “
Former US President Jimmy Carter took a very anti-apartheid line when he titled his 2006 book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. More recently, major human rights organizations such as Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem have followed suit.
Unfortunately, current White House President Joe Biden is too fearful to stand firmly against Israel. He certainly does not have the straightforwardness and courage of the influential “team”, which includes Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, representatives of Congress who have urged the American president to show firmness in dealing with Israel.
Unfortunately, here in Britain, even Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer denies it when it comes to the rogue state occupying a Middle Eastern state.
He continues to refuse to see that brutal violence is at the heart of Israel’s apartheid and occupation regime and that Palestinians live under the daily threat of deadly violence from Israeli security forces and hundreds of thousands of illegal Jewish settlers. living on land stolen from Palestinians.
Like most Zionists, Starmer also refuses to see the arbitrary arrests and detentions of Palestinians, including children, illegal collective punishment through house demolitions and forced population transfers – in a word, ethnic cleansing – as well as surveillance. and intrusive control of all aspects of Palestinian life.
According to War on Want: “This militarized repression is only possible thanks to international complicity: countries, such as the United Kingdom, trade weapons with Israel, while companies, such as Barclays, invest in these weapons and other repressive technologies. Barclays owns shares of value. of over £ 1.3 billion in companies that supply Israel with weapons and military technology used in violence against Palestinians. Barclays is providing these companies with loans and other financial services worth an additional £ 4 billion. “
Among the companies targeted is Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private arms company, which is already the target of pro-Palestinian activists, as I recently reported in MEMO. It supplies 85% of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – military drones – used by the Israeli military.
Elbit Systems’ weapons were used extensively in the deadly Israeli bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip, home to two million Palestinians. In addition, Elbit Systems has been associated with the production of bombs and cluster munitions, which are prohibited by international law.
Another company, Raytheon, produces type bombs anti-bunkerused by Israel to target Palestinian homes during frequent bombings of the Gaza Strip by the Zionist state.
Caterpillar, meanwhile, supplies the Israeli military with D9 bulldozers, which are used to demolish Palestinian homes, schools, villages and civilian infrastructure, including water and sewer pipes. D9 bulldozers are also used for the construction of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
Just as human rights groups and activists called on people around the world to boycott South African products during apartheid, Palestinians are calling on people of conscience to support their fight for justice and human rights by campaigning to end corporate and financial complicity in Israel’s apartheid regime.
That’s why War on Want is partnering with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Campaign Against the Arms Trade and will be attending the campaign’s launch webinar on August 9th.
“Barclays profits from the apartheid regime that Israel imposes on the Palestinian people, through multimillion-dollar investments in arms companies, which supply Israel with the weapons used to suppress Palestinians,” explained Asad Rehman of War on Want. “Barclays must divest from companies that support Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.”
Rehman will speak at the webinar alongside Ben Jamal of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Palestinian writer and researcher Budour Hassan, and Fiona Ben Chekroun, European coordinator of the Palestinian National Committee on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
Most of Barclays’ old guard must be retired or dead by now, which is a shame because if they were still around, they could restore their successors to wisdom by recommending divesting from Israeli apartheid now, instead of exposing themselves to another. harmful boycott campaign.
The campaign to persuade Barclays to withdraw from South Africa lasted sixteen years. Protesters disrupted the bank’s annual general meetings, student unions forced the closure of campus branches, and thousands of institutional and individual clients closed their accounts.
Does Barclays really want to relive all this due to Israeli apartheid? I certainly wouldn’t bet on it.
July 28, 2022 – The Middle East Monitor – Translation: Chronicle of Palestine – Dominique Muselet