U.K. arms sales are in the spotlight again because of the ferocity and genocidal intent of the Israeli assault on Palestinians and the reliance of Israeli forces on British military hardware. While the U.S. is far and away Israel’s biggest and most important arms supplier and military-diplomatic advocate, the U.K. is also a leading military and political ally of Israel. From the Balfour Declaration of 1917 [expressing British support for the establishment of a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people] to the recent failure of the British Parliament to back a ceasefire, Westminster policy has had detrimental consequences for Palestinians across generations.
With each passing day, more Israeli bombs are falling on Gaza. Over a million Palestinians have been displaced from their homes. The world is bearing witness to a genocidal military campaign to clear out Gaza once and for all. As leaders in the West continue to stand by Israel’s outrageous crimes, activists and people of conscience around the world are using direct action to take matters into their own hands and disrupt the war machine themselves. Palestine Action is one such group that is strategically targeting direct disruptive actions at production sites of Elbit Systems Ltd. and its subsidiaries. Elbit Systems is an Israel-based weapons technology and defense company supplying the Israeli military with the instruments of sophisticated carnage whose deadly force is being unleashed upon Palestinians as we speak. TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez speaks with Fergie Chambers, Max Geller, and Calla Walsh of Palestine Action.
Saturday’s 300,000-person march through the streets of Washington, DC was a political earthquake that shook the Biden administration to its core. The next step in making these demands a reality is to Shut It Down For Palestine this Thursday, Nov. 9. There will be no business as usual as long as the Palestinian people are being subjected to a genocide – a genocide paid for with our tax dollars. We will shut it down for Palestine all over this country and around the world. From walk outs to pickets at Israeli embassies to protests at companies that profiteer from Israeli apartheid -- or symbolic actions like wearing kuffiyehs or black armbands -- we will keep this people's movement growing from strength to strength.
The British state – and quite possibly its Israeli counterpart – are attempting to shut down Palestine Action. Since its founding in 2020, the activist group has launched hundreds of operations against arms factories across the United Kingdom, especially Israeli ones. Its goal is to break British complicity in the Israeli military-industrial complex. Palestine Action has already caused serious economic damage to companies like Elbit Systems. Joining Lowkey on this edition of “The Watchdog” is returning guest Huda Amori. 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.
Today, on the 106th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, activists from Palestine Action targeted Britain’s foreign office and are currently occupying the weapons firm Leonardo at their London HQ. Leonardo’s London offices have been covered in red paint, to symbolise the Palestinian bloodshed by their weaponry, whilst one activist remains on top of the company’s front overhang. Elsewhere, the Foreign Office in London was sprayed in messages including ‘Britain Guilty’ and ‘Fuck Balfour. Written in 1917 by then UK foreign secretary, Lord Arthur Balfour, the Declaration signed away the land of Palestine to the Zionist colonial project – a land Britain never had the right to give away.
Webster County, WV — Early Friday morning 11/3/23, pipeline fighter Jerome locked himself to a Mountain Valley Pipeline drill at the Elk River crossing in Webster County, WV. Jerome prevented construction for over 3 hours, at which time he was extracted by law enforcement and arrested. He was charged with 4 misdemeanors, and has been released from jail. A banner at the site of Jerome's blockade read "Doom to the pipeline!" "I am the father of 3 daughters and the grandfather—soon—of 5 grandsons," Jerome stated. "I am horrified by what climate change is already doing to all life here on Earth. And I'm even more horrified that we still envision and construct projects like MVP which will only worsen the warming and deepen the chaos.
Cambridge, MA — On October 30, nine activists were violently arrested and assaulted by the Cambridge Police Department during a Palestine Action US rally at the Cambridge office of Elbit Systems, Israel’s biggest genocide profiteer. All 9 plead NOT GUILTY to all charges. Truth be told, Elbit Systems is guilty, the US-Israeli war machine is guilty, and the CPD is guilty. We affirm our right to take action against Elbit and all weapons companies, and we will not let police intimidation deter us. The CPD immediately fabricated lies, reprinted by the mainstream media, to construct their case to criminalize us for protesting against genocide.
This morning, three simultaneous actions have targeted weapons factories across Britain, to prevent the production of weaponry destined for use by Israel in their ongoing massacre of the Palestinian people. While Israel’s Instro Precision in Kent has been met with a 100-person-strong blockade, a lock-on and a rooftop occupation disrupted Leicester’s UAV Tactical Systems and Howmet Fastening Systems. At the Instro Precision factory in Sandwich, over 100 people have descended on the site, to blockade the two entrances to the Discovery Park business area. The site, which has faced protests for years and has previously been occupied by Palestine Action, has been forced closed.
On Thursday, October 12th, organizers with Palestine Action US took direct action against Israel’s largest weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems, at its “Innovation Center” in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Activists blockaded Elbit’s main entrance so their employees could not enter, and drenched the building with red paint and graffiti, exposing Elbit for profiteering from Israeli war crimes against Palestinians. “Elbit Systems will not conduct business as usual in our city, while their weapons are mass murdering the Palestinian people right now,” activists cried as they were locked down to Elbit’s front doors. “War criminals work at 130 Bishop Allen Drive!”
On 18 October climate activists from Just Stop Oil (JSO) halted the coach driving 23 asylum seekers to the Bibby Stockholm. Activists sporting bright orange tabards emblazoned with the JSO logo blocked the sole road into Portland, where the government have docked the floating monstrosity. An extremely irresponsible coach driver appeared to push through the protesters that lined the coach’s path. Ultimately, the activists failed to prevent the Home Office returning the migrants to the barge. However, this was still the singular most powerful and important action in the group’s history – and here’s why.
Peters Mountain, VA — On Monday afternoon 10/9/23, pipeline fighter Ben locked himself to a sleeping dragon in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, preventing tree cutting and clearing in the area. A banner at the site read "Appalachians Slap Back," in reference to a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) filed by MVP in September. "This is a pipeline that cuts through every county in Virginia that I’ve ever called home," Ben explained. "I grew up here. I live here. In 2018, people started putting their bodies in the way of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. They’ve been called a lot of things, including outside agitators and paid protesters.
Northampton, MA - On the morning of Thursday, October 12, members and supporters of the Demilitarize Western Mass collective created a blockade at 50 Prince Street, Northampton, in front of L3Harris (the local subsidiary of weapons giant.) L3Harris is the ninth largest weapons manufacturer in the world, and this direct action is in protest of this part of the military industrial complex in the region, particularly their role in violence abroad and carceral surveillance systems. The blockade consists of protesters locking themselves to a large boat and three trailers, preventing cars from entering either of the driveways to L3Harris.
Peters Mountain, VA -- On Saturday morning 10/7, pipeline fighter Mickey locked themself to a sleeping dragon blockade on the Virginia side of Peters Mountain, in the Jefferson National Forest. A banner at the site read, "Defend the Forest Everywhere!" Mickey prevented tree clearing on the mountain for the full day. Around 8 PM on Saturday, Mickey was extracted and arrested. They were charged with 3 misdemeanors and bail was set at $2,500. Mickey stated, "The same thing is happening everywhere right now. Greedy corporations and politicians dirty the water and air for profit, then tell the people it's for their own good, to create jobs so that the lowly worker might have the chance to make enough to eat.
The Marxist cultural critic Raymond Williams once described TV as “flow”. He was writing in the days when you had to watch everything live, as it was broadcast, before even VCR was invented, and obviously we don’t watch TV like that so much any more. (Even though we use the word ‘streaming’). But there is a deeper truth all the same in Williams’ account: that sense that all television washes past us, each of its genre conventions so tightly defined that nothing ever surprises us or breaks out of the screen. Watching Channel 4’s documentary ‘Is it time to break the law?’, about the limits, or not, of environmental protest, was for these reasons and others a complete surprise.
Roanoke County, VA — Early Saturday morning, a pipeline fighter using the name "Bramble" locked herself to a buried lockbox at a Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) worksite in Roanoke County. She prevented pipeline workers from clearing vegetation on the top of Poor Mountain for three days; on Monday, she was extracted from her blockade and arrested. As of Tuesday afternoon, she is still being held without bail. "I'm fighting for a world where we can all be free," Bramble stated. On day 2 of her blockade, she wrote, "Workers came by my spot today and took away my supplies, hoping that I would leave. In the end though, they can't take away the view I have from up here.