"Who Profits"- Spearheading Global BDS
- ‘Who Profits‘ was founded in 2007 as “a research project of the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) – a feminist, Palestinian-Jewish organization devoted to the struggle against the occupation…” and “in response to the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement” against Israel.
- In 2013, due to “the expansion of Who Profits and its increasing professionalization as a research center,” as well as the loss of some of CWP’s donors due to BDS activities (see below), “the project separated from CWP and became an independent organization.” Nevertheless, “Who Profits and CWP continue to collaborate as sister organizations.” ‘Who Profits’ does not disclose any of its staff on its website or in its correspondences.
- The group seeks to expose “the commercial involvement of Israeli and international companies in the continued Israeli control over Palestinian and Syrian land… We focus on three main areas of corporate involvement in the occupation: the settlement industry, economic exploitation and control over population.”
- ‘Who Profits’ initiates boycott campaigns against Israeli and foreign banks, security companies, civilian infrastructures and private companies. It supports BDS campaigns around the world in finding target companies. The website provides the option to “Report a Company,” and calls on the public “to identify companies that should be included in their database.” This database includes more than 500 Israeli and international businesses.
Involvement in BDS
- The NGO promotes the BDS campaign through social media and is mentioned in almost every report calling for boycotts of or divestment from Israel. Its status as a registered Israeli NGO gives it a special status among BDS supporters.
- ‘Coalition of Woman for Peace’ and ‘Who Profits’ co-authored a document entitled “Knowing the Occupation Economy” (2015), funded by the Swedish organization “Kvinna till Kvinna” (itself funded by the Swedish Government). The report stresses:
“As long as Israeli and international corporations will continue to profit from the occupation, their interest in preserving it will grow. However, corporate involvement in the occupation opens up new channels for civil society to influence the situation. This information packet is part of a concerted effort by Coalition of Women for Peace and Who Profits to discover and expose these dangerous interests. The next step will be to divert the focus of all NGOs working against the occupation to the trade dimension inherent in the oppression we fight against, and demand corporate responsibility.”
- ‘Who Profits’ attached an “sample letter” (Page 16) to the report under the title “contact company management” (Appendix 1). The letter seeks to “bring to your attention your company’s involvement in the ongoing expulsion of Palestinian residents from their homes and lands – a process which beginning in the 1948 Nakba, and is continuously ongoing in the day to day policies of occupation and land theft.”(emphasis added)
- Additional activities mentioned in the document include:
- Call for the cancellation of the customs agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (The Paris Protocol) (Page 5).
- Lobbying the EU to cancel the EU-Israel trade agreement relating to the Israeli pharmaceutical industry – “Coalition of Women for Peace led the lobbying and campaigning in the European Union in the period running up to the vote on the agreement and trade protocol with the Israeli pharmaceutical industry” (Page 9).
- Divestment from Ahava – “In 2012, following ‘Who Profits’ activity, the businesswoman Abigail Disney announced that she was waiving her profits from the Ahava factory in which she had invested.” The document also mentions additional NGOs such as Oxfam and Code Pink. (Page 9).
- Canceling contracts with G4S – “The European Parliament, which had employed G4S services since 2008, did not renew the contract following letters and pressure from different NGOs. In Israel, there are number of leftist NGOs and culture sites employing the company’s services, probably without knowing its deep involvement in maintaining the occupation. Sending letters to businesses, local authorities, and NGOs to raise awareness to the company’s daily violation of human rights in Israel, can be extremely affective.”
- Other campaigns mentioned are the fast Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway, Palestinian workers employed by Israeli companies, and issues related to the energy and gas sector.
- ‘Who Profits’ acts against small and medium businesses in Israel. NGO Monitor has acquired a number of letters sent in English from the “Who Profits staff” to Israeli businesses, informing them that they will be added to the NGO’s database (Appendix 2). The consequences of being added to this “database” include being targeted by BDS campaigners and being lobbied against in various forums. These letter include the following quotes
- “Who Profits is a research center dedicated to exposing the commercial involvement of companies in the continued Israeli control over Palestinian and Syrian land”
- “We plan to include the following information about your company on our website and printed publications”
- “If your response is absent by 26 January 2015, we will publish the above information as is”
- On the NGO’s website, in publications, letters, and documents, researchers and employees are not named, they are only referred to as “Who Profits Staff.”
- According to the Israeli registrar of Non-Profits, the organization was founded by Esther Mitzenmaher, Rona Moran, Yara Saadia, Ines Elias, Deborah Lerman and Hannah A’mori.
- Project co-founder Dalit Baum was a former board member of the radical Israeli NGO Zochrot, which was established with the aim of “rais[ing] public awareness of the Palestinian Nakba” and “recognizing and materializing the right of return,” meaning the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Baum was also coordinator of the Middle East program of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which actively promotes BDS, utilizes “apartheid” analogies, and advocates the so-called Palestinian right of return.
- AFSC operates in Israel and the Palestinian Authority with a humanitarian visa obtained from the Israeli authorities, allowing it to have offices in Israel and work freely in Jerusalem and Area C.
- Baum testified as an “expert” to the notorious “Russell Tribunal on Palestine,” a mock court putting Israel and its Western allies “on trial” and promoting “existing legal actions and campaigns in the context of BDS to be stepped up and widened within the EU and globally” against Israel.
- In May 2015, various NGOs initiated a major BDS campaign against the French telecom company Orange and its connections with the Israeli company Partner. These groups included Who Profits, Al Haq, Catholic Committee Against Hunger and for Development-Terre Solidaire (CCFD), FIDH, and Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), all of which are deeply involved in anti-Israeli campaigns.
- ‘Who Profits’ maintains a unique webpage dedicated to Partner Communications, which has been updated over the years. Reflecting an extreme political agenda opposed to Israeli self-defense, the latest additions are unconnected to supposed commercial involvement in the West Bank and Golan Heights: “As part of its social responsibility policy, the company sponsored two Israeli military units for several years. Under the framework of the ‘Adopt a Soldier’ project, the company supported the Ezuz armored battalion and the Shachar search and rescue unit, through the provision of sports days, entertainment activities and training. During the attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014, Partner was on the front lines providing material support, cellular services and entertainment to the Israeli soldiers. The company also waived service fees for soldiers carrying [sic] the assault during July-August 2014” (emphasis added).
- Israel water company Mekorot: ‘Who Profits’ published an info file (2013), falsely accusing Israel of “discriminating against the Palestinians” in the water sector, preventing infrastructure development, limiting water supplies to Palestinians and more. Although those accusations lack any factual basis, they have been repeated in a campaign against the planned cooperation between Mekorot, and the Dutch water corporation Vitens, as well as the Italian water company ACEA.
- Banks: Based on information provided by ‘Who Profits,’ a large Dutch pension fund, PGGM, announced on January 8, 2014 that it will “no longer invest in five Israeli banks.” ‘Who Profits,’ as well as a number of other highly politicized NGOs, lobbied PGGM to divest from these Israeli banks as part of its economic warfare campaign against Israel.
- Published a report in May 2012, “Ahava: Tracking the Trade Trail of Settlement Products,” falsely alleging that the Israeli company “extracts the mud from occupied Palestinian territory, thereby exploiting Palestinian natural resources.”
- Published a report in February 2012, accusing Hewlett Packard of “direct involvement in the occupation” and using the company as “a case study to discuss the role of international and local corporations in Israel’s mechanisms of surveillance and control over the occupied Palestinian territories.” The report presents an entirely one-sided narrative and completely omits Israeli security concerns, as part of the broader campaign to delegitimize Israel
- Published a report in January 2011, “SodaStream: A Case Study for Corporate Activity in Illegal Israeli Settlements,” alleging the “[e]xploitation” and “restrictions of movement and organization” of Palestinian employees. In fact, at the time SodaStream employed hundreds of Palestinians, in favorable conditions, alongside Israelis in its Mishor Adumim factory. SodaStream recently closed the factory and relocated to Lehavim in the Negev.
- According to Who Profits’ financial reports submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, the NGO received NIS 1,479,568 from foreign entities in 2012-2015. All donations were designated for “research” projects.
|Donor||Government||Sum (NIS)||Donor activity|
|Fagforbundet||Norway (local authority)||92,675||Promotes boycott in workers' unions|
|ICCO||Netherlands||1,034,382||Promotes divestments from pension funds, water company|
|Trocaire||Ireland||181,250||Promotes BDS, cutting ties between Israel and the EU|
|Nova||Spain||41,764||Demonization of Israel|
|Kairos||Private||9,660||Divestments in churches, BDS, Antisemitism|
|Facing Finanace E.V||Private||2,477||Corporate Responsibility|
- Majority of donations were received from church aid societies including ICCO and Trocaire, as part of the BDS campaign in the churches, which regularly employs antisemitic rhetoric.
- Some of the donors above also fund Israeli NGOs Breaking the Silence, Zochrot, B’Tselem, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel and the Alternative Information Center.
- Prior to Who Profits’ registration as an NGO, Coalition of Women for Peace received NIS 518,377 for the project in the years 2012-2013. Donors included Diakonia (Sweden), ICCO (Neatherlnds), Medico International (Germany), Trocaire (Ireland), the United Canadian Church, and American Friends Service Committee.