International : African companies listed in "Occupation Industry" Database
The Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel has launched a new database of companies directly involved in the Israeli occupation. This online database reflects an on-going grassroots investigation effort by the Coalition of Women for Peace, a leading Israeli feminist peace organization dedicated to ending the occupation and reaching a just peace in Israel/ Palestine. Rigorous research, including site visits and cross references of documents, have resulted in a database of several hundred international and Israeli companies directly involved in the Israeli occupation. During 2009 we intend to upload hundreds more of companies which are under investigation.
The Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights is fueled by corporate interests. Israeli companies and multinational corporations deal in real estate; develop the Israeli infrastructure and settlements in the Palestinian occupied territories and the Golan Heights; contribute to the construction and operation of an ethnic separation system, including checkpoints, walls and roads; design and supply equipment and tools used in the control and repression of the civilian population under occupation.
While governments are calling on Israel to stop settlement expansion, multinational corporations continue to participate in the Israeli colonial enterprises in the oPt and the Golan Heights in their investments and operations. Consumer markets around the world also continue to accept settlement products, and thus tacitly support the effective economic annexation of occupied resources including land and labor into Israel (See our on-line section about the settlements’ industry).
While the Separation Wall and the checkpoints devastate the Palestinian economy (as attested to by the World Bank), fragment Palestinian society and prevent the establishment of a viable Palestinian political entity, dozens of companies see these barriers as a new business opportunity. They build the infrastructure, develop the technologies for control of the occupied Palestinian population, and some operate the repressive measures as subcontractors for the Israeli state. This “counterterrorism” expertise and accompanying homeland security technologies are later marketed globally. (see our on-line section about the control of population).
In this database, we provide information and draw attention to the various sorts of corporate interests that help maintain the Israeli occupation, through specific examples. We wish to stimulate a candid public debate about the costs and benefits of the occupation to different parts of Israeli society and how these interests influence political decision-making in Israel and globally.
We do not call for any one specific form of action towards any of the companies on our database, since different methods and strategies are appropriate for different conditions and locations. As an information center, we plan to support and encourage diverse methods to influence corporations to stop their involvement in the occupation.
Dalit Baum, project coordinator, explains: "Many companies attempt to mislead customers - they hide the reality of their operations in the settlements by marketing their products from within Israel. Through site visits, we have been able to map some of these companies and to identify them on our website. Large construction firms also try and downplay their involvement in Israeli real estate deals on Palestinian land – and we want them to answer for it. For the first time, we are shining a light on corporate practices that sustain the settlements or benefit from the unequal setting of the occupation; these cannot be condoned as regular business activities”.
A TWO EDGED SWORD : In South Africa the terms "As Used by Israeli Army" and "Made in Israel" are frequently used by companies to endorse the quality of a product. This is particularly true in the Building Industry. Africa is a large consumer of "security products" as most of of the continent is in a state of semi-permanent war and uncontrolled criminal activity. In this context, a listing in the database would be seen as a recommendation! Editor.