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Shutting Down The Israeli Arms Industry

Even as Israel’s war against Palestine continues unabated, a new movement has arisen in the United Kingdom, challenging the Israeli war machine – and it has been winning some impressive victories.

Founded in 2020, Palestine Action is a grassroots activist movement that seeks to end British complicity in Israeli war crimes by shutting down arms manufacturing sites across the U.K. Today, Lowkey welcomes back Palestine Action co-founder Huda Amori to talk about the rise of her organization that has taken the country by storm and has weapons manufacturers fleeing. Born in the U.K., Amori is a Palestinian-Iraqi whose father was chased out of his home by Israeli soldiers in 1967, and forced to flee, without even a pair of shoes.

Decades later, Amori has found a way to fight back, using direct action to occupy and shut down Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms firm. With the help of the community in her native Oldham, Amori and Palestine Action’s occupation has forced Elbit Systems to leave the town and sell their factory at a substantial loss. Last summer, they abandoned their London headquarters. And last winter, the British Ministry of Defence canceled around £280 million (around U.S.$350 million) of contracts with the company.

Elbit’s products, such as drones and surveillance tech, are directly used on the civilian population of Palestine, Amori explained. They are then marketed as “battle tested” around the world and sold to countries like Australia and India.

“If you are building weapons here to be sent back to Israel to be used against Palestinians, or if you are a customer of weapons that have been developed on the Palestinian people, then you are just as guilty,” Amori said, adding:

For example, the British Ministry of Defence buy many of these weapons after they have been developed and used against the Palestinians, which only encourages the further development and use of weapons on Palestinians, and to continue the occupation. This cycle of violence just continues to benefit the oppressors and work against the oppressed.”

What happens to Palestinians reverberates throughout the world. The people of the West Bank and Gaza function as guinea pigs for the world’s most oppressive technologies. Those technologies are then exported globally. As Amori told Lowkey, because their electronics and other tech in Israel’s annexation wall proved so effective, Elbit Systems won a contract to build the Trump administration’s controversial wall on the Mexican border.

While Amori and Palestine Action are constantly charged and regularly appear in court for criminal damages, they are yet to be convicted. Indeed, once they get in front of a jury to tell their story, it is often Elbit Systems that seems to be on trial. At the end of last year, a jury at the Crown Court unanimously found Amori and her colleagues innocent, accepting that they were trying to prevent an even bigger crime from taking place. The jury even proceeded to thank the activists for their bravery publicly. Some, Amori claimed, went so far as to blow kisses at them.

While it is not clear whether they will continue to grow and be successful, what is obvious is that Palestine Action’s direct action strategy is achieving success and that arms manufacturers the world over are watching on, worried.

Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.

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