Stop Arming Israel! Take action to ‘Block the Factory’

Activists from London Palestine Action call on anti-arms and Palestine solidarity campaigners to join a mass action at Elbit arms factory on July 6

June 8, 2015
4 min read

LPA

Israel’s attack on Gaza last year exposed once again the awful consequences of the ongoing brutal occupation and colonisation of Palestine. The scenes of mutilation and devastation shocked people everywhere. Once again, the struggle faced by Palestinians in their resistance to Israeli oppression was impossible to ignore.

Across the world, the sheer ferocity of the massacre had thousands, even millions of people responding to the call for global solidarity and action. Many took to the streets in enormous demonstrations of outrage, others organised occupations of government buildings and complicit businesses. In the US, dock workers formed the #blocktheboat campaign and refused to allow Israeli ships to land. Unprecedented public pressure mounted for governments and arms companies to stop arming Israel.

In Britain, our complicity runs deep. In the heart of England, near the small village of Shenstone, stands a small factory. Once it made engines for Norton motorbikes, but now it makes engines for drones. The current operators are UAV Engines Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems.

Elbit, one of Israel’s largest arms companies, manufacturers of the Hermes drone, a sickening piece of military hardware that was used to terrorise and kill Palestinians in the horrific attack on Gaza last year. Even since the ceasefire, drones still patrol the skies above Gaza, and the IDF intends to increase their use in the occupation, removing the risk to their personnel and further dehumanising their operations.

The apparent remoteness of a sleepy West Midlands village from devastating explosions on Gazan streets seems almost grotesque, but the connection is all too real. Israel itself is home to a thriving arms trade and there is extensive collaboration between Israeli and international companies in developing weapons. Part of what makes the Israeli arms trade so strong is the fact that they can use Palestine as a testing ground for weapons development.

Israel is the world’s leading exporter of drones with more than 1,000 sold to different countries around the globe. The drone engines Elbit make in Shenstone are all over the world. The profits Elbit reap from their business are then used for further investment in the brutal technology used against Palestinians.

As part of the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, Palestine solidarity activists have called for the UK to end its extensive collaboration with the Israeli weapons industry and to institute a two-way arms embargo. Unsurprisingly, the government has refused to listen.

The Stop Arming Israel campaign requires action. At the height of last year’s carnage, which killed more than 2000 Palestinians, nine activists occupied the Shenstone factory’s roof, shutting it down for two days. The cost to Elbit was more than £100,000.

Those who profiteer from suffering should not be allowed to continue with business as usual and the lie that their industry is a grim economic necessity must be challenged and defeated. Now, as the first anniversary of the attack approaches, groups and campaigners from across the UK have issued a call out to activists to return to Shenstone on Monday 6th July and block the factory from it’s deadly business.

The aims of this mass action go beyond just shutting down the UAV Engines site for the day. We want to build on the incredible response to the attack last summer, which brought together a huge variety of activist groups in solidarity with Palestine and powerfully demonstrated how our different struggles intersect.

By uniting behind the call to Stop Arming Israel, we want to transform the road to the factory into a fun, creative and inspiring space, celebrating the collective power of our diversity. Whether it’s by telling stories or holding workshops, making art or flying kites (not drones), playing music or sharing food together, we want to create place for activists to build support networks, find new allies and make new friends. Everyone who shares our values is invited to come and help make this an incredible, beautiful day.

For more information, visit www.blockthefactory.org or visit our Facebook page.

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.
Share this article  
  share on facebook     share on twitter  

Brexit, Corbyn and beyond
Clarity of analysis can help the left avoid practical traps, argues Paul O'Connell

Paul Mason vs Progress: ‘Decide whether you want to be part of this party’ – full report
Broadcaster and Corbyn supporter Paul Mason tells the Blairites' annual conference some home truths

Contagion: how the crisis spread
Following on from his essay, How Empire Struck Back, Walden Bello speaks to TNI's Nick Buxton about how the financial crisis spread from the USA to Europe

How empire struck back
Walden Bello dissects the failure of Barack Obama's 'technocratic Keynesianism' and explains why this led to Donald Trump winning the US presidency

Empire en vogue
Nadine El-Enany examines the imperial pretensions of Britain's post-Brexit foreign affairs and trade strategy

Grenfell Tower residents evicted from hotel with just hours’ notice
An urgent call for support from the Radical Housing Network

Jeremy Corbyn is no longer the leader of the opposition – he has become the People’s Prime Minister
While Theresa May hides away, Corbyn stands with the people in our hours of need, writes Tom Walker

In the aftermath of this disaster, we must fight to restore respect and democracy for council tenants
Glyn Robbins says it's time to put residents, not private firms, back at the centre of decision-making over their housing

After Grenfell: ending the murderous war on our protections
Under cover of 'cutting red tape', the government has been slashing safety standards. It's time for it to stop, writes Christine Berry

Why the Grenfell Tower fire means everything must change
The fire was a man-made atrocity, says Faiza Shaheen – we must redesign our economic system so it can never happen again

Forcing MPs to take an oath of allegiance to the monarchy undermines democracy
As long as being an MP means pledging loyalty to an unelected head of state, our parliamentary system will remain undemocratic, writes Kate Flood

7 reasons why Labour can win the next election
From the rise of Grime for Corbyn to the reduced power of the tabloids, Will Murray looks at the reasons to be optimistic for Labour's chances next time

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 25 June
On June 25th, the fourth of Red Pepper Race Section's Open Editorial Meetings will celebrate the launch of our new black writers' issue - Empire Will Eat Itself.

After two years of attacks on Corbyn supporters, where are the apologies?
In the aftermath of this spectacular election result, some issues in the Labour Party need addressing, argues Seema Chandwani

If Corbyn’s Labour wins, it will be Attlee v Churchill all over again
Jack Witek argues that a Labour victory is no longer unthinkable – and it would mean the biggest shake-up since 1945

On the life of Robin Murray, visionary economist
Hilary Wainwright pays tribute to the life and legacy of Robin Murray, one of the key figures of the New Left whose vision of a modern socialism lies at the heart of the Labour manifesto.

Letter from the US: Dear rest of the world, I’m just as confused as you are
Kate Harveston apologises for the rise of Trump, but promises to make it up to us somehow

The myth of ‘stability’ with Theresa May
Settit Beyene looks at the truth behind the prime minister's favourite soundbite

Civic strike paralyses Colombia’s principle pacific port
An alliance of community organisations are fighting ’to live with dignity’ in the face of military repression. Patrick Kane and Seb Ordoñez report.

Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports

On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.

Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns

Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for a political organiser
Closing date for applications: postponed, see below

The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections

In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines

Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.

West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective

How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences


336