Civil society organisations welcome the Future Fund’s exclusion of Elbit Systems, and call on the Federal and Victorian Governments to drop Elbit or risk complicity in serious violations of international law

Civil society organisations welcome the Future Fund’s exclusion of Elbit Systems, and call on the Federal and Victorian Governments to drop Elbit or risk complicity in serious violations of international law

15 March 2022 | For immediate release

Civil society organisations working for human rights for Palestinians and others welcome the news of Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Future Fund’s exclusion of Israeli arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems Limited from its investment portfolio because of allegations of its involvement in the production of cluster munitions.

The organisations call on the Future Fund as part of its duty to undertake responsible investment and human rights due diligence, to investigate its investment portfolio and divest from any entity involved in or complicit in serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights against the Palestinian people. Some of these serious violations include credible and well documented abuses which amount to serious crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Australia’s public funds should not be involved in furthering grave human rights abuses. 

They further call on the Victorian Government to immediately cease its partnership with Elbit Systems Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems, to establish a research ‘Centre of Excellence’.  

The organisations call on the Australian Government to suspend its defence cooperation with Israel and any facilitation of defence industry partnerships. These recommendations were supported by a coalition of Palestinian human rights organisations in a 2021 submission with the ACIJ to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which is currently conducting a feasibility study into a Free Trade Agreement with Israel.

The Palestinian people suffering under decades of Israeli military occupation and apartheid have called on the UN Security Council and all states parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, which includes Australia, to impose a two-way arms embargo to protect Palestinians lives.

The organisations are encouraged by the Australian Government’s rapid response to the crisis in Ukraine through implementing measures in responding to and condemning Russia’s illegal invasion and act of aggression in Ukraine. The Australian Government must respond similarly to Israel’s serious, decades long and continued violations of international law.

Executive Director of the Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ), Ms Rawan Arraf, said:

“The Victorian Government’s outrageous partnership with Elbit Systems should never have been made. We believe the Victorian Government either neglected to consider the human rights implications of the partnership, or ignored them outright. It’s a shameful partnership that must be suspended on account of Elbit’s complicity with serious human rights abuses and crimes under international law. If it continues, the Victorian Government will stand accused of complicity with international crimes.  

“Further, the Australian Government’s eagerness to enhance defence industry cooperation and partnerships with Israeli defence firms has been forged in complete disregard of Australia’s international legal obligations, and respect for Palestinian human rights. All of these must end.”

Hilmi Dabbagh from BDS Australia said:

“BDS Australia sees the Future Fund’s divestment from Elbit as a milestone development which will have ramifications right throughout state and federal Australian governments, companies and academic institutions whose partnerships and trade with Elbit are highly problematic and in breach of international law.

“BDS Australia has been calling for an end to Australia’s ties with Elbit for many years and has seen the growth of a strong grassroots movement which in 2017 saw the Royal Flying Doctors end its association with this Israeli arms company. Most recently our campaigns in relation to the Victorian and federal Government’s associations with Elbit, have been met with silence from both governments but are strongly supported by growing numbers of people who want to see an end to Australia’s complicity with the apartheid regime of Israel.”

Bishop George Browning, President of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) said:

“Australia must not explore a free trade agreement with Israel and should halt all military trade while Israel continues its flagrant violations of international law. Israeli officials are under investigation by the International Criminal Court, demonstrating the seriousness of Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. Australia must not be complicit.”

Dr Sue Wareham, President of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) said:

“The terrible Ukraine crisis has shown us that governments can act quickly when human rights are being grievously violated.  We call for the same level of action to protect the Palestinian people who have long suffered from Israeli military aggression. There is no place in Australia for partnerships with companies, such as Elbit Systems, that are complicit in inflicting human harm.”

Endorsed by:

Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN)

Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ)

Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA)

Australian Palestinian Professionals Association (APPA)

Australian Students for BDS (ASBDS)

Australians for Palestine (AFP)

BDS Australia

Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP)

Federation of Italian Migrant Workers and their Families (FILEF)

Free Gaza Australia

Free Palestine Melbourne

Friends of Hebron (FOH)

Friends of Palestine WA (FOPWA)

General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW)

Justice for Palestine, Meanjin (Brisbane) (JFP)

Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)

Palestine Fair Trade Australia (PFTA)

Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network (PIEN)

Palestinian Christians in Australia (PCiA)

Media enquiries contact:

Australian Centre for International Justice – Rawan Arraf: [email protected]

BDS Australia: [email protected]

Notes:

Elbit Systems is an Israeli based manufacturer of military, security and surveillance equipment and is widely known as a major research and development partner to Israel’s Ministry of Defence, who after the US Government, is its second biggest customer.

Elbit is known for its drones (UAVs) and land weapons.

In 2018 Elbit Systems completed its acquisition of Israel-state owned IMI (Israel Military Industries). IMI – which was merged into Elbit Systems Land manufactures and supplies a wide range of weapons, munitions, missiles, tanks and military technology to the Israeli military. Elbit is also a major partner to Israel’s police and Ministry of Interior. More information on Elbit can be found on WhoProfits.com.

Elbit Systems is excluded from many investment funds, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds worldwide including but not limited to:

  • NZ Super excluded Elbit Systems in 2012 for involvement in Israel’s illegal construction of the Annexation Wall in the occupied West Bank;
  • Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, NBIM excluded Elbit Systems in 2009 for supplying surveillance equipment used on the occupied West Bank’s Annexation Wall;
  • Norway’s KLP excluded Elbit Systems in 2010 for its involvement in the illegal construction of the Annexation wall. It excluded it again in 2021 for its role in production of cluster munitions;
  • Sweden’s largest state pension funds AP1-4 excluded Elbit in 2010 for its involvement in the Annexation Wall and illegal settlements the occupied Palestinian territory;
  • Denmark’s Dankse Bank excluded Elbit in 2010 for its role in the Annexation wall and in illegal settlements;
  • Sweden’s Nordea Bank;
  • Sweden’s SEB Group;
  • HSBC divested from Elbit in 2018;
  • French investment firm AXA Investment Managers divested from Elbit in 2018; and
  • Luxembourg’s general pension fund, Fonds De Compensation, FDC in 2014. 

In February 2021, the Victorian Government announced it has entered into a partnership with Elbit Systems Australia to build a ‘Centre of Excellence for Human and Machine Teaming’. For more information see  Stop Elbit BDS campaign

In September 2017, the NSW Royal Flying Doctor Service confirmed it will not contract with Elbit Systems.

Elbit is said to have supplied equipment to the Myanmar military, before the military’s ethnic cleansing clearing operations against the Rohingya people and following the military coup in February 2021.

According to West Papuan human rights advocates, Elbit is alleged to have supplied equipment to the Indonesian military used to suppress human rights in occupied West Papua.Attachments area

Amnesty International declares Israel guilty of apartheid

Amnesty International declares Israel guilty of apartheid

The declaration by Amnesty International that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid, in its treatment of Palestinians, must lead to enforcement action by the international community, BDS Australia said today. The AI report, which echoes previous findings by Human Rights Watch, as well as two Israeli human rights monitoring groups, B’Tselem and Yesh Din, should end any dispute about the nature of Israel’s crimes against humanity, the group added – the only topic for discussion now should be how to bring them to an end.

 “Australia must stop denying, minimising or excusing Israel’s criminal actions, and instead join with others in the international community in calling for an end to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, dating from 1967; the scrapping of the racist Nation State law of 2018 and the dozens of laws and regulations that discriminate against non-Jews, and for Palestinians to be facilitated in exercising their lawful right of return to the homes from which they were driven out at the inception of the State of Israel in 1948”, said Jake Lynch, patron of BDS Australia and Associate Professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.

 “We now have a comprehensive, evidence-based report, running to over 200 pages, from the world’s most respected human rights monitoring group, a Nobel Peace laureate in its own right, setting out exactly how Israel is in breach of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. The oppression of Palestinians continues only with the collusion of international actors including Australia, which promotes trade including the sale of deadly weapons with Israel, as well as offering diplomatic protection from the consequences of its crimes. This must cease”, said BDS Australia convenor and Palestinian refugee, Hilmi Dabbagh.

 “The tide is turning and no amount of spin from the Israel lobby and Zionist supporters in Australia can stop it. Desperate calls for anti-BDS legislation and claims of antisemitism from those organisations which support Israel’s colonialist and apartheid policies are falling on deaf ears and rightly so,” according to Dr Peter Slezak, Deputy Convenor of BDS Australia who is the son of holocaust survivors.

 “Palestinians welcome this report, on top of those from Human Rights Watch and others, as long-overdue recognition of the reality we are living with every day.

Apartheid for us means constant violent attacks both by ‘soldiers’ of the Israeli occupation force and by armed racist thugs from the settler movement, driving us out of our homes and ancestral lands, denying our rights to freedom of movement and assembly. This is our struggle, but it is also a crime against humanity and a scar on the world’s conscience. The world now must take action to bring accountability, isolate apartheid and hasten its end”, said Hiba Farrar, BDS Australia committee member and Palestinian lawyer.

SEE AMNESTY’S REPORT – Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity

A landslide of support for Sydney Festival boycott                          Jan 18, 2022

A landslide of support for Sydney Festival boycott Jan 18, 2022

Photo credit: Aman Kapoor

The Sydney Festival boycott over funding from Israel is now Australia’s largest and most successful boycott campaign since the anti-apartheid movement against South African apartheid and the Green bans of the 1970s, according to BDS Australia.

More than 40% of the Festival performances have been disrupted with some 100 artists, companies and arts workers withdrawing in solidarity with this community and artist-led initiative opposing Israeli art-washing of war crimes against the Palestinian people.
BDS Australia is especially heartened by the strong solidarity and support given to this boycott by so many First Nations artists who so well understand the experience of colonisation and dispossession.

“The actions of so many artists, companies and arts workers in supporting the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions in light of Israel’s apartheid policies and ongoing human rights abuses against Palestinians, clearly shows the solidarity and intersectional nature of this struggle,” says BDS Australia patron, Associate Professor Jake Lynch of Sydney University’s Department of Peace and Conflict Studies.

“More than 10,000 people have signed the BDS Australia petition and written to the Sydney Festival Board. 1,000 artists and arts workers have publicly expressed their support for those who have withdrawn in protest from the Festival, and many Australian Jewish organisations and individuals have publicly stated their support for the boycott – this is a landslide of support for justice for Palestinians,” says BDS Australia convenor and Palestinian refugee, Hilmi Dabbagh.

“The tide is turning and no amount of spin from the Israel lobby and Zionist supporters in Australia can stop it. Desperate calls for anti-BDS legislation and claims of antisemitism from those organisations which support Israel’s colonialist and apartheid policies are falling on deaf ears and rightly so,” according to Dr Peter Slezak, Deputy Convenor of BDS Australia who is the son of holocaust survivors.

“The latest United Nations reports show the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is intensifying, with record numbers evicted and buildings being demolished every day in East Jerusalem, in the Naqab and elsewhere by the occupying Israeli authorities. The Israeli state is openly colluding with gangs of armed thugs from the settler movement to speed up the seizure and theft of Palestinian land”, says Hiba Farra, BDS Australia committee member and Palestinian lawyer.

Further information:

BDS Australia – Israel government sponsorship of the Sydney Festival
BDS Australia petition to Board members

Artists Against Apartheid – Drop Israeli Regime Partnership

A Jewish Response to the Sydney Festival Boycott
Settler Violence = State Violence – B’Tselem Nov 2021

BDS Australia calls on UNSW Laureate Professor Alison Bashford to support Palestinians in their struggle against apartheid and brutal repression by rejecting the Dan David Prize.

BDS Australia calls on UNSW Laureate Professor Alison Bashford to support Palestinians in their struggle against apartheid and brutal repression by rejecting the Dan David Prize.

BDS Australia calls on UNSW Laureate Professor Alison Bashford to support Palestinians in their struggle against apartheid by rejecting the Dan David Prize.

The 2021 prize, which is administered by Tel Aviv University, rewards contributions to the understanding of public health. Yet Israel is currently obstructing the delivery of Covid vaccines to Palestinians, and its illegal military occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip, which Tel Aviv University facilitates, have systematically attacked Palestinians’ public health for decades.

State-based efforts to bring about justice for Palestinians have comprehensively failed. In response, Palestinians are calling on people of good will to boycott organisations that profit from, contribute to, or normalize Israel’s repression of them. Academics from all over the world have met the call with strong support. As one example only, Prof. Catherine Hall of University College London declined to accept the same Dan David Prize in 2018 after extensive discussion about the politics of Israel-Palestine.

In suggesting that Israel is committed to advances in public health, the Dan David prize obscures the severe rolling health crisis in the occupied territories, and ignores the fact that Israel robs countless Palestinians of their right to health, well-being and ordinary prospects of flourishing. In its structural ties to Israel’s military and political architecture, including fee waivers and scholarships for Israeli soldiers and its complicity with the stockpiling of the bodies of dead Palestinians, Tel Aviv University, the prize administrator, directly facilitates the violence of Israel’s apartheid policies.

Millions of Palestinians are subjected to Israel’s slow ethnic-cleansing regime, which dispossesses, arbitrarily imprisons, maims and kills them in large numbers. To them, a high-profile prize from the heart of the Israeli political and academic establishment can only appear a cruel joke.

Professor Bashford, accepting the prize contributes to misleading the public about Israel’s violence and racism towards Palestinians, and legitimizes institutions at the centre of Israel’s apartheid policies. We therefore ask you to put into practice your declared commitments to public health and antiracism, and respect Palestinians’ call for solidarity by boycotting the Dan David prize. You surely would not have been an apologist for South Africa’s apartheid; we ask you to refuse to be one for Israel’s apartheid and brutal military occupation and blockade of Palestinians.

February 18th, 2021

#BDSDanDavidPrize

Media Release: BDS Australia welcomes the International Criminal Court’s decision to investigate Israeli war crimes

Media Release: BDS Australia welcomes the International Criminal Court’s decision to investigate Israeli war crimes

The decision by the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to pursue war crimes investigations into Israel’s actions against Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip is welcomed by BDS Australia.

Bensouda’s statement that, “I am satisfied that (i) war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip (“Gaza”) (ii) potential cases arising from the situation would be admissible; and (iii) there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice”, comes after the Court had been presented with extensive documentation over five years to support such an investigation.

Greg Barns, criminal barrister and former National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance states:
“The ICC and the Rome Statute that governs it is supported by Australia. Therefore it would be hypocritical if Australian politicians did not support the ICC in its further work on Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians.
“The ICC decision should be supported by all Australians who oppose the apartheid policies of Israel.

Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Chair of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney and Leverhulme Visiting Professor, Coventry University, 2019-20 says:
“The ICC announcement finally opens the door to justice for the Palestinians, after decades of dispossession and oppression by the Israeli military security state. It comes as revulsion at Israel’s excesses, and support for remedial action, is growing among concerned peoples around the world.

BDS Australia’s Hilmi Dabbagh says:
“This is the first step towards accountability for decades of grave crimes against Palestinians and we commend the ICC for finally taking steps to bring justice to so many and to shine a light on these ongoing crimes which must be stopped by the international community.

Further information:
ICC decision