BDS Victory: Security company G4S announces plans to exit Israeli market

Activism

British security company G4S, the world’s largest, has responded to a four-year long global BDS campaign protesting its role in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights by announcing yesterday it will sell its Israeli subsidiary in the coming “12 to 24 months.”

In describing the move, The Financial Times reported that G4S was “extracting itself from reputationally damaging work.”

Since 2010, G4S has lost contracts worth millions of dollars in many countries following BDS pressure to end its complicity in Israeli prisons, where Palestinians are tortured and held without trial, as well as in Israeli checkpoints, settlements and a police training center. Their lost clients include private businesses, universities, trade unions, and UN bodies.

The Bill Gates Foundation in 2014 divested its $170m stake in the company following protests at its offices in Seattle, London and Johannesburg.

In recent weeks, UNICEF in Jordan and a major restaurant chain in Colombia became the latest high-profile bodies to end their contracts with G4S following BDS campaigns.

“As at the height of the international boycott of apartheid South Africa, BDS pressure is making some of the world’s largest corporations realize that profiting from Israeli apartheid and colonialism is bad for business,” said Mahmoud Nawajaa, a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broadest coalition in Palestinian society that leads the BDS movement.

“Investment fund managers are increasingly recognizing that their fiduciary responsibility obliges them to divest from Israeli banks and companies that are implicated in Israel’s serious human rights violations, such as G4S and HP, because of the high risk entailed. We are starting to notice a domino effect,” he added.

French multinationals Veolia and Orange and CRH, Ireland’s biggest company, have all exited the Israeli market in recent months, mainly as a result of BDS campaigning.

In January, the United Methodist Church put five Israeli banks from Israel on a “blacklist” due to their complicity in human rights violations, including the financing of illegal Israeli settlements.

Palestinian lawyer Sahar Francis, Director of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, commented:

“This latest news from G4S is welcome but it has no immediate effect on those facing serious human rights violations inside Israel’s prisons today.”

“At a time when Israel is stepping up its campaign of mass incarceration as a way of repressing Palestinian society, G4S should immediately end its role in the notorious Israeli prison system, as well as its involvement in securing Israeli checkpoints and illegal settlements.”

Nawajaa said:

“We are grateful to all of the dedicated grassroots organizers around the world who are working in solidarity with Palestinians seeking freedom, justice, and equality. But G4S is infamous for breaking pledges to end its participation in Israel’s crimes.”

“Our boycott of G4S will remain among the BDS movement’s top priorities until we actually see its back out of the door of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.”

“We also welcome the news that G4S is also selling its businesses that operate youth detention centers in the US and the UK, both of which have seen G4S targeted by campaigners over its abusive practices and both of which are part of deeply racist incarceration systems.”

“From the US to Palestine, from South Africa to the UK, G4S is deeply involved in racist mass incarceration business. We remain determined to work closely with partners to hold G4S to account for its participation in human rights abuses.”

G4S also has a long and documented track record of participation in human rights and workers’ rights abuses elsewhere in the world, especially in prisons and migrant detention centres it has run in the US, the UK and South Africa.

Nawajaa added:

“Failing to stop the impressive growth of BDS in pursuit of freedom and justice, Israel is desperately trying to smear and delegitimize our nonviolent movement, including with anti-democratic laws in Europe and the US aimed at silencing dissent and suppressing our freedom of speech.”

“We believe strongly that our ethical approach and just cause will prevail, as this latest G4S announcement shows.”

In September 2015, French corporate giant Veolia sold off all of its businesses in Israel. This was a direct result of a 7-year campaign against its role in infrastructure projects for illegal Israeli settlements that cost it more than $20 billion in lost tenders and contracts.

A leading France-based Israeli businessman recently told the Israeli media that the growing strength of the BDS movement means that most major European companies now avoid investing in Israel.

Foreign direct investment in Israel dropped by 46% in 2014 as compared to 2013, according to a UN report, partially due to the impressive growth of the BDS impact, as stated by one of the report’s authors. 

G4S CAMPAIGN KEY MILESTONES

G4S announced in 2013 that it would end its role in illegal Israeli settlements, checkpoints and one Israeli prison by 2015 but did not implement the withdrawal. In 2014, G4S announced it “did not intend to renew” its contract with the Israeli Prison Service when it expired in 2017 but is yet to implement that decision.

March 2016 – UNICEF in Jordan ends its contract with G4S following campaign pressure. UNHCR in Jordan had ended its contract with G4S in December 2015.

April 2015 – More than 20 businesses in South Africa terminate their contracts with G4S, costing the company more than $500,000.

November 2014 – The municipality of Durham County in North Carolina, USA, ends its contract with G4S following a campaign by local Jewish Voice for Peace activists.

May 2014 – The Bill Gates Foundation sells the entirety of its $170m stake in G4S following an international campaign involving a petition launched by 100 organisations from across the world and demonstrations at the Gates Foundation’s Johannesburg, London and Seattle offices. The​ US​ United Methodist Church divests all G4S shares from its $20bn investment fund.

January 2014 – The student union at the University of Kent in the southeast of England votes to terminate its contract with G4S following an “outcry” over its role in human rights abuses in Palestine. Student unions across the UK later vote to take similar steps. King’s College London and Southampton universities later decided not to renew contracts with G4S following student pressure.

December 2012 – As a result of a vibrant student campaign, the University of Oslo announces that it will terminate its contract with G4S, stating it does not want to “support companies that operate in an ethical grey area”. Universities in Bergen, Norway and Helsinki, Finland later announce similar steps.

April 2012 – On the eve of a historic hunger strike by more than 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners, 13 Palestinian prisoner and human rights organisations call for a campaign to hold G4S accountable for the role it plays in maintaining Israel’s prison system, where torture prevails.

Full timeline available at: http://bdsmovement.net/g4s-timeline

9 Responses

  1. hophmi
    March 10, 2016, 11:38 am

    Total nonsense. G4S’s losses are due to its contracts to house asylum seekers in Great Britain. It has zero to do with BDS.

    • MHughes976
      March 10, 2016, 12:45 pm

      Not total nonsense – the Financial Times report certain,y stresses the point you mention but it does also refer to reputational damage from the ME.

      • hophmi
        March 11, 2016, 11:26 am

        FT appears to be the only one. G4S’s losses are due mostly to its contracts to house asylum seekers in GB, as reported by the Guardian. There’s no evidence that BDS cost G4S anything more than a headache from all their shrieking.

    • oldgeezer
      March 10, 2016, 2:45 pm

      A total nonsense reply from you. G4S’S losses are largely due to housing asylum seekers (in the UK) indeed/

      It’s dumping of it’s Israeli business is a totally separate action and annoucement which has nothing to do with it’s UK losses from housing those individuals.

      Like many businesses it has many facets. Thanks to BDS it will soon have one less facet.

    • oldgeezer
      March 11, 2016, 12:54 pm

      @hophmi

      You don’t look very hard as they’ve lost contracts in two different countries within the last 30 days due to their Israeli involvement.

      Since you’re so big on proof how about we discuss the level of proof required before the idf commits extra judicial killings or their goons empty their clips into children or settler leaders mow them down and execute them because they think they may be up to something.

      No one really cares if you believe it’s due to BDS, Even more so it doesn’t matter if it’s due to BDS. The point is the company is dumping it’s pariah state operations. That is a victory.

    • Misterioso
      March 11, 2016, 1:22 pm

      Related:

      Patrick Martin, Canada’s Globe and Mail correspondent in Israel:

      link to theglobeandmail.com

      Globe and Mail, Feb. 23/16

      EXCERPTS:

      “Israel is increasingly concerned with the successes of the boycott and divestment efforts. In 2014, foreign direct investment in Israel dropped 46 per cent from the previous year, in part, a United Nations report said, because of BDS efforts.

      “These initiatives are taking hold at North American universities, churches and trade unions, where many institutions are dropping investments in Israel or Israel-connected companies. In Europe where hundreds of academics and entertainers are personally boycotting Israel, major companies such as telecom Orange and water company Veolia are pulling out of Israeli ventures, and some EU governments are putting warning labels on products produced in Israeli West Bank settlements.”

      “Yes, the BDS campaign singles out Israel, quite naturally. It was started by a group of Palestinians, including Mr. Barghouti, to elicit help in dealing with Palestinians’ biggest problems. It was not intended to solve all the problems of the world. Just as the worldwide campaign against apartheid in South Africa did not address the ills of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, or the dictatorship in Somalia, this BDS movement is uniquely tailored to safeguarding Palestinian rights.”

  2. Kay24
    March 10, 2016, 7:28 pm

    Despite a few setbacks, BDS has been growing stronger slowly but surely. I hope the world will now realize it is the right way to fight apartheid policies and free a people from their occupation.

    It was amusing to read the “concern” by the zionists for the Palestinian jobs “lost” at Soda Stream, because we know how concerned these zionists are for Palestinians and their lives.
    Soda Stream admitted that BDS was the main reason they went down, and their not so bright spokeswoman, Johansson, who decided to resign from Oxfam, to speak for the squatters products, could not help them stay in business.

    Hopefully we will see more BDS successes.

  3. Talkback
    March 11, 2016, 8:34 am

    So much for the effort by the only Jewish Apartheid state in the milkyway to silence BDS in the UK.

  4. Elisabeth
    March 12, 2016, 7:16 pm

    I was reading an article on BDS in Haaretz, and in between there is an advertisement for Naale Elite Academy (“Every Jewish kid’s dream… Free* high school in Israel”):

    It’s a perfect program.
    It’s in Israel,
    everyone is Jewish
    and its affordable

    It’s in ISRAEL, EVERYONE is JEWISH and its affordable. Just let that text sink in… What is that ad doing in the only liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz? I am often annoyed but this is a low.

    *(The 3 0r 4 years program, which includes full airfare to Israel at the beginning of the program, room and board, off-campus travel expenses, tiyulim (special trips), spending money, and laundry service, is fully funded by the Israeli Government and the Jewish Agency for Israel.)

    link to naale-elite-academy.com

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