Building the boycott of Veolia/Connex and Motorola
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Building the boycott of Veolia/Connex and Motorola

On March 30, local boycotts against Connex and Motorola were launched respectively in Melbourne and New York City, building on larger, established campaigns. The boycott of Connex and Veolia for their roles in the Jerusalem light rail has achieved a series of victories in Europe, while the Motorala boycott is a nation-wide initiative of the US Campaign to End the Occupation. The expansion of the two into local contexts not only serves to expand the reach and awareness of the BDS movement, but also has the potential for concrete victories.

***image3***In New York, activists in Brooklyn by The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (NYCBI) kicking off a city-wide campaign to boycott Motorola over its support for Israeli apartheid. Adalah-NY, a member group in NYCBI, has carried out a highly successful New York campaign to boycott diamond mogul and settlement-builder Lev Leviev.

Several days after the launch of New York boycott, Motorola Israel sold its Government Electronics Department (GED) unit, responsible for producing bomb fuses, to the Israeli company Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd. While this sale rids Motorola of some activities that had made it the target of a growing boycott, Motorola Israel is still involved with the Occupation military. It acquired a $100 million contract to provide a data encrypted cellular network, “Mountain Rose,” to allow the army to communicate securely anywhere they operate. It aslo supplied the Israeli military with the Wide Area Surveillance System (WASS) and other high-tech configurations of radar devices and thermal cameras, which are installed around settlements and the Wall.

Building on the national “Hang Up on Motorola” campaign, activists in Boston and California have organized protests. Both the Presbyterian and Methodist churches support the campaign. University students have also recently taken up the call to boycott Motorola, achieving a divestment success at Hampshire College. Previously, Motorola had been the target of a successful boycott campaign for its support of the government of apartheid South Africa.

***image2***In Melbourne, activists have launched a campaign to “dump Connex”, the operator of suburban passenger rail services in the city. The firm already has a poor service record in the city, and activists hope to raise awareness about the company’s operations in Palestine with the hopes of ridding the city of “an operator that supports an occupying military force and contributes to human and political rights violations.”

The Australian campaign comes as the newest addition to the campaign fighting the Jerusalem tramway. ASN bank decided to divest from Veolia in 2006, and other banks have since followed its example. Successful boycott actions have taken place in Sweden, Norway, and the UK.

These two campaigns are vital to the BDS movement. The utter devastation in Gaza and the ongoing repression and arrests in the West Bank further highlight the need to target key supporters of the Occupation military. And the ongoing Judiazation of Jerusalem, the demolition orders in Bustan and the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah being only two recent examples, make halting the tramway an urgent goal.