Lockheed Martin: A global giant in supporting of Israeli war crimes

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Weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin literally makes a killing off of killing. Last year, while the company was grossing $43.4 billion in arms sales, an estimated 157,000 people around the globe were killed in violent conflicts. For leadership of this industry of death, CEO Marillyn Hewson was paid $20 million. The federal contracts Lockheed Martin receives total more than the budgets of 22 US states (not surprising, given that the company spends around  $13 million lobbying annually) and does business with 70 nations.

Lockheed Martin boasts on its website that it has been selling arms to Israel since 1971. The company’s notorious F-16 fighter jet came into Israel’s possession in 1980, two years before Israel’s first war with Lebanon. Since that time, the company’s fighter jets have been integral to Israel’s brutal military campaigns in Lebanon and Palestine.

Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon involved wide use of F-16 fighter jets and the Lockheed Martin Multiple-Launch Rocket System (MLRS) which sprayed cluster bombs across the Lebanese countryside. Between July 12 and August 14 2006, over 1,000 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, were killed. Comparatively, 12 Israeli soldiers and 43 Israeli civilians were killed by Hezbollah rockets. Human Rights Watch concluded that the cause of such a high civilian death rate was “Israel’s frequent failure to abide by a fundamental obligation of the laws of war: the duty to distinguish between military targets, which can be legitimately attacked, and civilians, who are not subject to attack.”

Lockheed Martin weapons played a major role in Israel’s 2008-2009 and 2014 assaults on Gaza. An extensive investigation by Amnesty International into Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, which killed 1,394 Palestinians, including 345 children, found that Israel’s attacks using Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters and Hellfire missiles often failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants. In some cases there was even evidence that civilians and civilian spaces were deliberately targeted. A UN fact-finding mission on the assault raised the possibility that Israel had committed war crimes as defined by international law.

In April of 2014, shortly before the onset of Operation Protective Edge, Lockheed Martin expanded its Tel Aviv office and opened an office in Be’er Sheva, Israel. They announced that the opening of the office was to demonstrate Lockheed Martin’s commitment to supporting the Israeli Defense Force and their “Move to the South” campaign. Only a few months after the new Lockheed Martin office was opened, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge. The assault killed over 2,100 Gazans, and wounded thousands more. A study by Defense for Children International determined that at least 225 of the 550 children killed during the 50 days died from Israeli warplane attacks. An independent fact-finding mission into the assault documented numerous incidents where Israel dropped one or more missiles from F-16 planes onto civilian homes during times they knew families would be gathering, often killing and injuring the entire family.

Israel is not the only controversial country Lockheed Martin is supplying with weapons. Lockheed Martin also has ongoing business relationships with Egypt and Saudi Arabia which remain undeterred in the face of widescale human rights abuses and brutal military campaigns by the two countries. In 2009, the US State Department approved a package of arms deals with Egypt worth an estimated $3.2 billion under which Lockheed Martin was the primary contractor.

In May 2017, President Trump signed a $110 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia. Lockheed Martin is to be the biggest beneficiary of the package, raking in $29.1 billion under the new deals. Prior to signing the deal, son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner placed a personal call to Marillyn Hewson to request that she, in support of the deal, drop the price on Lockheed’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense systems. Saudi Arabia’s military assault on Yemen, largely with Lockheed Martin weapons, has been so brutal that Yemen is now experiencing the largest cholera outbreak in modern history and a child dies from malnutrition every 10 minutes.

Like Israel’s assaults on Gaza, Saudi Arabia is using aerial bombardments as a primary military tactic, and Lockheed Martin jets are the backbone of the assault. The airstrikes have repeatedly hit civilian spaces including homes, schools, markets, food storage facilities, and hospitals. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations have determined that the strikes lack military justification.

Prior to leaving office, President Obama increased US military aid to Israel to $3.8 billion a year. Included in the deal was both the requirement that 100% of funds be used to purchase from US companies, and that part of the package would be used to assist Israel in updating “the lion’s share” of its military aircraft, including purchases of the new Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets. The first of what will total 50 F-35s began arriving in Israel in December 2016. Israel is so far the only country, outside of the US, to receive these new and enormously expensive 5th generation fighter jets. For the F-35’s production, Lockheed Martin bought over $1 billion worth of equipment and services from Israeli weapons companies, such as Elbit and Israel Aerospace Industries.

Divestment from companies contributing to and profiting from Israel’s human rights abuses is well under way. So, too, is divestment from weapons companies. For decades, the Presbyterian Church, through their Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTIC) has had a policy of not investing in weapons companies. In 2004, the Presbyterian General Assembly began “phasing out” investments in Israel’s occupation, and in 2014, they voted to sell such holdings. Lockheed Martin is a double winner, manufacturing the tools of death around the world and maintaining a close relationship with Israel. It is not alone in this regard. Just last week, the University of Michigan student government passed a resolution calling on their school to look into divestment from companies that violate Palestinian rights. Their motion included Hewlett Packard, United Technologies and Boeing, another weapons manufacturing giant.

When considering companies to target for their entanglement in Israel’s human rights violations, Lockheed Martin should make the top of everyone’s lists. As the largest weapons manufacturer in the world, it is one of the primary companies CODEPINK is targeting in its new campaign, Divest from the War Machine. Pulling money from this massive merchant of death will help the Palestinian cause and everyone around the world who is suffering from war.

About Ariel Gold

Ariel Gold is the national co-director for CODEPINK and leads their campaigns for Palestinian rights.

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About Haley Pedersen

Haley Pedersen leads CODEPINK's Divest from the War Machine campaign

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19 Responses

  1. Emet
    November 21, 2017, 10:49 am

    Intel is supporting Israel. I propose that everyone stop using their laptops and PC’s as they contain Intel parts.
    Microsoft is supporting Israel. I propose that everyone reformat their computers and install Ubuntu Linux.
    Apple is supporting Israel. I propose that everyone with an i-Phone trade it in for a Samsung. Hey wait, Samsung has Israeli parts as well. I propose everyone stop using cellphones and revert to smoke signals. It’s about time we learn’t Morse Code again …—…

    • eljay
      November 21, 2017, 11:29 am

      || Emet: Intel is supporting Israel. I propose that everyone stop using their laptops and PC’s as they contain Intel parts.
      Microsoft is supporting Israel. I propose that everyone reformat their computers and install Ubuntu Linux.
      Apple is supporting Israel. I propose that everyone with an i-Phone trade it in for a Samsung. Hey wait, Samsung has Israeli parts as well. I propose everyone stop using cellphones and revert to smoke signals. It’s about time we learn’t Morse Code again …—… ||

      Don’t forget to propose that everyone stop enjoying cherry tomatoes and start eating roma tomatoes.

      But I get what you’re saying. Individual boycotts are a waste of time and it makes more sense for the West simply to do to Israel what it has done to other countries:
      – impose harsh economic sanctions;
      – destroy its infrastructure (while, of course, taking great care to minimize “collateral damage”); and
      – destabilize its government prior to imposing regime change.

      • Marnie
        November 22, 2017, 12:31 am

        “But I get what you’re saying. Individual boycotts are a waste of time and it makes more sense for the West simply to do to Israel what it has done to other countries:
        – impose harsh economic sanctions;
        – destroy its infrastructure (while, of course, taking great care to minimize “collateral damage”); and
        – destabilize its government prior to imposing regime change.”

        Israel is a rogue state in violation of numerous UN treaties and has committed innumerable war crimes going all the way back to 1947-48.
        I think that israel in fact loves the BDS movement because it’s a distraction from what they have gotten away with for 100 years, and it isn’t hurting them terribly. If they make a lot of noise about it, scream antisemitism 24/7 and get Emet and co to do the say, and they get the u.s. to make laws against it, all the while they continue to steal more land and murder more palestinians.

    • lonely rico
      November 21, 2017, 12:37 pm

      > Emet

      I propose everyone stop using cellphones and revert to smoke signals. It’s about time we learn’t (sic) Morse Code again …

      So Israel’s involvement with and development of cutting edge technology allows it to commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, endless cruelty, a total lack of human decency.
      The wheels are coming off your nasty zionist bus Emet, we don’t buy your BS anymore.

    • amigo
      November 21, 2017, 1:24 pm

      Emet, there is a much easier way to outwit your enemies .

      Get Israel to make it illegal to sell phones/laptops/Ipods/printers to anyone who supports the Palestinian cause.You could force them to sign a document at point of sale exclaiming their undying support for Israel before you hand over one sheet of printing paper.

      Yeah Emet , a real sabra, you go get them boy.

    • CigarGod
      November 22, 2017, 10:55 am

      Since 70% of the worlds men are not circumcised, I guess we can do just fine without the Israeli innovation of Male Genital Mutilation.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 22, 2017, 12:00 pm

        israeli innovation? “The oldest documentary evidence of male circumcision comes from ancient Egypt.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_male_circumcision

        speaking of ritual, has there ever been even one pro israel poster/troll here who has not mockingly suggested we give up our computers and cell phones reminding us about intel chips etc etc?? some original whataboutery please!

      • Mooser
        November 22, 2017, 4:54 pm

        “In April of 2014, shortly before the onset of Operation Protective Edge, Lockheed Martin expanded its Tel Aviv office and opened an office in Be’er Sheva, Israel. They announced that the opening of the office was to demonstrate Lockheed Martin’s commitment to supporting the Israeli Defense Force and their “Move to the South” campaign”

        In Beer Sheva? “Jon s” must have protested vociferously.

  2. Citizen
    November 21, 2017, 11:16 am

    Obama bumped up military aid to Israel, Trump got more than he asked for to spend on US military; meanwhile, our main media is giving us Russia-Gate–with the same lack of factual support for its allegations that gave us Iraq WMDs. Interesting in view of the various old allies of US that partnered with the US weapons industry in producing the F-35, that none of them have been even one F-35, while Israel has them.

  3. Citizen
    November 21, 2017, 11:25 am

    Pentagon reportedly set to flex muscles over cost-cutting of F-35 jet http://cnb.cx/2z8YtOZ
    Israel is the sole foreign state to get the F-35 to date–& for free! F-35 cost 94.6 million each. Multiply by 50 =

  4. Citizen
    November 21, 2017, 11:42 am
  5. JosephA
    November 21, 2017, 2:41 pm

    At the risk of beating a dead horse, I will utter my refrain:

    Follow the money, and…
    Beware of the military-industrial complex!

  6. pabelmont
    November 21, 2017, 7:02 pm

    I think I could buy a PC that does not have Intel parts and I already use Linux/Ubuntu. Probably turn out that the HD or some other replaceable part should be boycotted, but still * * *.

    The hard thing, always, is to make the boycotting action KNOWN so as to have some effect on others. I guess I could get a T-shirt that says “I BOYCOTT Israel and all companies that support the occupation or Israel’s wars of aggression.” Leave it to my “readers” (does anyone really “read” other people’s T-shirts?) to decide which companies I boycott. Lockheed, certainly, tho I had precious little business with them last quarter * * *.

  7. Jerry Hirsch
    November 21, 2017, 11:45 pm

    If the U. S. is the ring leader behind continual war throughout the world, then we should BDS America now!!!

    • Marnie
      November 22, 2017, 12:33 am

      Feel free.

    • eljay
      November 22, 2017, 7:25 am

      || Jerry Hirsch: If the U. S. is the ring leader behind continual war throughout the world, then we should BDS America now!!! ||

      We probably should. If there’s one thing we know for certain it’s that the U.S. – just like “shared common values” Israel – is far from being a “moral beacon” and “light unto the nations” state.

    • John O
      November 22, 2017, 11:50 am

      Good question, Jerry.

      Personally, I would have difficulty in boycotting American products, because the USA exports almost nothing that I want to buy and therefore am in a position to boycott – my car, my home furnishings and appliances, my food, my clothes, my camera equipment, my smartphone and TV: all European or Asian.

      I have American software (Microsoft, Corel, Adobe), but my hardware is again European or Asian.

      So, after taking a basic inventory of my home, I’m left with the GPS I use when walking in the countryside and my guitar strings (the guitar itself being made in Ireland).

      There are big-ticket items of course: the planes I fly on occasionally; some of my country’s defence equipment. But these items are not in my control, so are among the things more suitable for divestment and sanctions, which require action at a community and/or governmental level.

      Which leaves a cultural boycott, implying taking action against individuals, notably artists, some of whom are likely to share my views. So, should I not have gone yesterday to see the divine Rhiannon Giddens, whose music explores the African-American experience so powerfully? Should I have not seen the National Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece “Follies” last week?

      There are, of course, some American artists I could boycott for their political views, but I’d sooner have root-canal work without anaesthetic than listen to Ted Nugent, and it didn’t take knowledge of his views to convince me that he isn’t worth listening to.

    • lonely rico
      November 22, 2017, 7:30 pm

      > Jerry Hirsch

      … BDS America now!!!

      Quite so.
      I personally have not bought a bottle of American wine in the last 25 years.
      I found other wines – Spain, Italy, Portugal, even Canada (a tad “icey”.
      It’s been tough, and the Californian winemakers struggle on without me …

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