War on Want (UK)

Introduction

War on Want is a leader and mobilizer of anti-Israel BDS campaigns in the UK. It has accused the British government of “Arming Apartheid” and urged it “to implement an immediate two-way arms embargo to end all arms sales to and purchases from Israel.”

Profile

Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Websitewww.waronwant.org
FoundedEarly 1950s in London, UK.
In their own wordsFight poverty in developing countries in partnership with people affected by globalisation. We campaign for human rights and against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice.

Funding

Activities

Political Advocacy

  • Regularly erases the context of Palestinian terror and utilizes demonizing rhetoric, accusing Israel of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “war crimes,” “collective punishment,” and “colonialism,” as well as supporting a Palestinian “right of return.”
  • Claims that the “illegal occupation of Palestine and oppression of the Palestinian people is one of the outstanding moral outrages of our day.”
  • Promotes the allegation that “In Palestine, the Apartheid Wall is cutting Palestinian communities off from their water resources and fertile land, and imprisoning the population of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank,” ignoring evidence that not only does Israel provide Palestinians in the West Bank  with more water than required under the Oslo framework, but that thieves are responsible for stealing up to 50% of supplies in some areas.
  • War on Want co-sponsored two events during Israeli Apartheid Week 2017, marking “100 years of Palestinian resistance against settler-colonialism, since the inception of the Balfour Declaration.”
  • In July 2017, during the violence on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount that included the murder of two Israeli police officers, War on Want published a press release accusing Israel of “wide ranging repression” of Palestinians and that Israeli police used “disproportionate and armed force against Palestinians exercising their fundamental human right to protest,” ignoring that Palestinian rioters “began hurling rocks at security forces” and “some stones fell at the Western Wall plaza below” forcing the evacuation of groups of Jews praying there.
  • During a wave of terrorism that began in October 2015, War on Want erased the context of terrorism and condemned Israel for the alleged “systematic violence Palestinians are subjected to under Israel’s apartheid regime.”
  • In 2013, War on Want sponsored a festival in London called “Bethlehem Unwrapped,” featuring a comedy show called “Stand Up Against the Wall,” a “Bethlehem Christmas dinner,” and a debate titled “Both sides of the Barrier – Separation or Security?” that featured Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

BDS Activities

  • leader and mobilizer of anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestments, and sanctions).
  • Published a “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” resource, “expos[ing] the companies that are profiting from the Occupation and call[ing] on ordinary people around the world to take action.”
  • Claims that “Through supporting the movement for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) we are building a global force to combat Israeli Apartheid.”
  • War on Want has lobbied the UK government to “stop arming Israel.” In a January 2018 article, War on Want Executive Director Asad Rehman stated that “the UK government continues its bloody arms trade with Israel” and needs to “stop arming Israel – and to hold its government to account for the apartheid policies that made BDS a necessity in the first place” (emphasis added).
  • War on Want has lobbied in support of the discriminatory UN database of businesses operating across the 1949 Armistice line, aimed at bolstering BDS campaigns against Israel. In November 2018, War on Want was a signatory on a letter to Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, calling for the Commissioner to “publish an online, dynamic, and regularly updated Database of businesses active in Israeli settlements” (emphasis in original). According to the letter, “Further delays in the publication of the Database will only serve to undermine its establishment, and the important work done by your Office and others, including members of civil society, to realise this necessary initiative to promote state and business responsibilities to protect and respect human rights.”
  • War on Want has a campaign against HSBC Bank to “stop investing in and lending to companies arming Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians!” as “We can’t allow banks on our high streets to continue lending support to Israel’s militarised repression of Palestinians. Together, we can break the chain of complicity.”
    • In December 2018, following HSBC announcing that it had divested from Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems, Ryvka Barnard, War on Want Senior Campaigner on Militarism and Security, stated that while “HSBC has taken a positive first step in divesting from Elbit Systems, the notorious manufacturer of drones, chemical weapons, cluster bomb artillery systems, and other technology used in attacks against Palestinian civilians… HSBC continues to do business with over a dozen companies selling military equipment and technology used in human rights violation, including Caterpillar.”
  • In March 2019, to commemorate one year of the violence on the Gaza border, War on Want called for people to write to their MPs and ask to “press the government for a military embargo on Israel.” According to War on Want, “The UK government is complicit in this violence so long as it continues approving arms exports to Israel.” War on Want ignored the violent nature of the protests, which have consisted of an organized armed attack on the Israeli border and IDF positions, attempts to destroy and breach the border fence, and sustained arson, rocket, and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian communities.
  • In July 2018, War on Want supported the Irish “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied territories)” bill which would make it illegal for Irish citizens and residents to import or sell “settlement goods” or to provide or attempt to provide “settlement services.” According to Ryvka Barnard, “We welcome the news that the Irish Senate has voted to take concrete steps towards justice and accountability by voting to ban trade in goods pillaged from or produced in illegal settlements…War on Want calls on the UK government to stop rewarding human rights abuse and land grabs and to suspend all trade with Israel until it abides by international law.”
  • In July 2017, War on Want published the report “Deadly Investments” detailing how “UK banks and other financial actors facilitate and profit from Israel’s militarism, making them complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.” In the report, War on Want called “for banks to divest from and stop facilitating loans to companies that sell weapons and security services to Israel…call for the UK government to implement a two-way arms embargo on Israel.”
  • In April 2017, War on Want campaigned to have Israeli soccer clubs based in West Bank settlements expelled from FIFA.
  • In February 2016, following Oscar nominees being given a free trip to Israel, War on Want stated, “These celebrity tourists are…shielded from seeing the Palestinian popular resistance against oppression, manifesting in protests against the Apartheid Wall, against land confiscation and home demolitions in the unrecognised villages of the Naqab… The BDS movement exposes the real brutality of Israeli colonialism, the same scenes that Brand Israel is designed to conceal.”
  • In September 2015, War on Want organized a protest in London calling to “Stop the Arms Fair 2015: Stop Arming Israel Day of Action” and urging demonstrators to “challenge the Israeli and international arms companies’ pursuit of colonialism and death for profit.”
  • Together with the Campaign Against Arms Trade and Palestine Solidarity Campaign, published a July 2015 report, “Arming Apartheid: UK complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people,” funded by the Lipman-Miliband Trust, claiming that “trading arms with Israel makes the UK complicit in Israel’s continuing violations of human rights and international law” and urging the UK “to implement an immediate two-way arms embargo to end all arms sales to and purchases from Israel.”
  • Initiated a 2014 campaign, which distorts the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the concept of ethical investment, urging British security company G4S to end its contract with Israel’s prison authorities and alleging complicity in Israel’s “illegal occupation and the imprisonment and torture of Palestinians, including children.”
  • Published a 2013 report, “Killer drones: UK complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people,” inflammatorily alleging that “Israel takes advantage of its armed conflicts to ‘field test’ its weapons on Palestinians.” Repeating calls for BDS, the report similarly demands “a two-way arms embargo between the UK and Israel,” which would include “all dealings with Israeli weapons companies, including Elbit, and an end to all licenses for UK arms exports to Israel.”

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Further Reading