As most readers will know, since before 1948, the indigenous peoples of Palestine have been, and still are, the victims of an ongoing systematic regime of terror and displacement by the State of Israel and its zionist politics. This is being carried out under the guise of creating, securing and expanding a Jewish state, at the expense of the lives of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs, and in reality uses a manufactured fear of Arab terrorism to justify the ethnic cleansing, permanent war and profits for the military industrial complex. (For a good summary see ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Israel” by Ilan Pappe). The war crimes of Israel are being considered for investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the face of fierce resistance and sanctions by Israel and its main ally, the State of the USA.
Palestine Civil Society, since 2005, has called for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to highlight, internationally, and to the public, Israel’s ongoing crimes, to create pressure for political change. A strategy that had success in the campaign against South African apartheid.
Highland Palestine has been carrying out a BDS strategy for over 2 years now, holding events, collecting signatures, and lobbying the Highland Council Pension Fund, a fund overseen by elected Highland councillors, to stop investing the pension funds of the peoples of the Highlands in a company that manufactures bombs and sells them to Israel which uses them, in war crimes: to bomb, terrorise, and collectively punish the people of Gaza. That company is called General Dynamics Corporation, based in the USA, and the Highland Council Pension Fund invests over £6 million in that company every year.
Highland Palestine has provided evidence, through a petition with over a thousand signatures, for widespread public support for disinvestment in General Dynamic Corporation (GDC) and continues to lobby the fund. But to its intense frustration and disappointment there has been no response. Of course it is reasonable, and a duty, for the fund to invest these funds in a safe way to secure pensions for the future, but there are other companies for investment, and GDC shares have lost value in the past year in any case. However it also a duty of elected officials to act both morally and responsibly.
It is shocking to note that at their meeting in February 2018, shortly after our campaign began, the Pension fund sub-committee actually voted to deliberately exclude ‘moral considerations’ from investment decisions:
“A view was expressed that the Fund should achieve the best possible investment returns and ESG factors chosen for moral reasons should not be included in investment policy.”
And this, morally bankrupt, if not literally barbaric policy, was decided despite, a) voices from councillors at that meeting calling for the fund to mimic Norways ethical investment strategy , and b) a stated claim that the fund, via the fund manager, Pyrford International. is a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI); principles said to formalise the commitment to Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance, that is, socially responsible investment.
There is clearly a huge contradiction at the heart of the Highland Council Pension Fund’s immmoral decision to continue investing in GDC, despite both, a) the massive environmental harm being caused by the military industrial complex, as well as b) the war crimes and human rights abuses, and c) despite the petition with over a thousand signatures: evidence of massive public revulsion by the people of the Highlands that their funds are being used in this way.
Perhaps some politicians are anxious of being accused of anti-semitism and of being sanctioned or harrassed if they support BDS. But we must keep insisting, again and again, that criticism of the State of Israel’s policies oppressing Palestinians is not anti-semitic. It is not even a plausibly implied anti-semitic criticism of the actions of Jews on account of their being Jewish, and, importantly, the State of Israel does not represent Jewish peoples worldwide, although it tries to give this impression, and in fact many, if not the majority, of Jewish people abhor the zionist policies of the institutionally racist State of Israel.
To support our BDS campaign consider writing to your local councillors calling for disinvestment, signing our petition, and following Highland Palestine’s facebook page . We have regular zoom calls at the moment and occasional socially distanced street demonstrations in Inverness.