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Local activists welcome Gates Foundation divestment of all shares from G4S

So..turns out these folks were right. G4S is a really bad investment (Graphic: Stephanie Westbrook)

“So..turns out these folks were right. G4S is a really bad investment” (Graphic: Stephanie Westbrook)

After worldwide protests, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has liquidated their entire stock in British security company G4S.  Local and international campaigns had raised concerns about the role that G4S plays in helping Israel run prisons in which Palestinian political prisoners are held without trial and subjected to torture.

“The Gates Foundation’s decision to divest from G4S human-rights violations is a significant step forward for the growing movement of institutions bringing their practice in line with their stated values,” said Linda Frank, member of Jewish Voice for Peace – Tacoma chapter. “This is also is a big step forward for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is becoming a major force toward ending Israel’s apartheid.”

International public pressure also brought Friday’s announcement from G4S that the company plans to pull out of Israeli prisons completely.

“The G4S campaign will continue until G4S makes good on its word,” said Ed Mast, an organizer of local Seattle protests at the Gates Foundation, “but these institutional decisions already demonstrate the growing international consensus that Israel’s unjust treatment of Palestinians has to be isolated and ended.”

G4S has a contract with the Israeli Prison Service to install and run security and management systems at six prisons where Palestinian political prisoners, including children, are routinely subjected to torture, according to the human rights organizations.  G4S has already lost contracts worth millions of dollars as trade unions and universities and other public bodies in Europe and South Africa cancel their contracts over concerns about the firm’s role in Israel’s prison system. 

In the U.S., G4S also operates privatized juvenile detention facilities and works with Homeland Security to detain and deport people across the U.S./Mexico border and transport immigrants to detention facilities nationwide.

The Gates Foundation owned over 170 million dollars in G4S shares since June 2013.

On April 17, which is Palestinian Prisoners Day, local activists held a protest at the Seattle office of the Gates Foundation offices at 500 Mercer St.  Protesters were able to give the Gates Foundation a petition signed by almost 12,000 people calling on the Gates Foundation to divest from G4S over its role in Israel’s prison service.  The local protest action included members of the Northwest Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Committee, Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, and Jewish Voice for Peace – Tacoma chapter.  Similar protests were held at Gates Foundation offices in London, Johannesburg and Washington DC.

By May 28, the Gates Foundation had divested at least some of its shares in G4S.  The Gates Foundation’s full divestment from G4S was confirmed on Saturday June 7.

Northwest Regional BDS Coalition
About Northwest Regional BDS Coalition

The Northwest Regional BDS Coalition was founded in response to the 2005 Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction call issued by Palestinian civil society.

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9 Responses

  1. just
    just on June 10, 2014, 7:30 pm

    Congratulations and THANK YOU to all who made this possible!

    BDS is the way! Hooray to the folks in Africa and Europe who said no to G4S.

    “In the U.S., G4S also operates privatized juvenile detention facilities and works with Homeland Security to detain and deport people across the U.S./Mexico border and transport immigrants to detention facilities nationwide.”

    Now we have to make the US government and others do the same!

    • annie
      annie on June 10, 2014, 7:31 pm

      we ran this before, Northwest Regional BDS Coalition protesting outside gates foundation , but it’s worth a second viewing. seattle activists (Palestine Solidarity Committee, Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, and Jewish Voice for Peace – Tacoma) have been on the front lines of this protest as well as activists around the globe. big huge shout out for those on the ground in seattle. thank you!

  2. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned on June 10, 2014, 7:43 pm

    Speaking of BDS, Larry Derfner has a piece at 972, blasting J Street for opposing BDS.

  3. Eva Smagacz
    Eva Smagacz on June 11, 2014, 3:03 am

    G4S is re-thinking its activities in Israel.

    This from Financial Times:

    G4S has confirmed that it will end all its Israeli prison contracts within the next three years after an annual general meeting that was severely disrupted by human rights protesters.
    Asked by angry protesters whether G4S would withdraw from the Palestinian territories as reported by the Financial Times last year, Ashley Almanza, chief executive, confirmed “no change to that position”.

    “We expect them to expire and we don’t expect to renew them,” he said.
    These include contracts to provide security and screening equipment at military checkpoints, the controversial Ofer prison and a police station in the West Bank, all of which are expected to expire next year.

    But Mr Almanza said for the first time that the move would also include prison service contracts all over Israel.

    Whole article:

  4. seafoid
    seafoid on June 11, 2014, 5:14 am

    Slowly turning screws.

    Whenever the choice is between Zionism and money, Zionism is going to lose.

  5. seafoid
    seafoid on June 11, 2014, 10:49 am

    The reaction to the Cantor flop has been very juicy

    “The dream of a Jewish Republican speaker of the House is no more,” wrote Politico’s Alexander Burns. “[F]or Jewish Republicans, Cantor is a singular figure, the only Jewish member of the House majority and the lone Jewish leader in a party that has strenuously courted the community in recent presidential elections, to little avail.”
    Matt Brooks, the president of the Republican Jewish Coalition, went so far as to call Cantor’s defeat “one of those incredible, evil twists of fate that just changed the potential course of history.” ”

    1948 was one of those incredible, evil twists of fate. 1967 was another.

    “Of course, the shock outcome is about more than Jews in politics. The election is “a bad omen for moderates,” The New York Times reported. ”

    MEP = moderate except for Palestine

    • just
      just on June 11, 2014, 12:59 pm

      It’s deliciously “juicy”. I couldn’t be happier. He is such a shmuk. I really am thrilled at the reaction with the talking heads! They are gobsmacked– all proven wrong and now finding their collective pants around their ankles.

      For those who don’t ‘know’ Cantor, from wiki:

      “Political positions

      As of December 2010, Cantor is the only Jewish Republican in the United States Congress.[11][1][27] He supports strong United States-Israel relations.[10][11] He cosponsored legislation to cut off all U.S. taxpayer aid to the Palestinian Authority and another bill calling for an end to taxpayer aid to the Palestinians until they stop unauthorized excavations on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.[28] Responding to a claim by the State Department that the United States provides no direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, Cantor claimed that United States sends about US$75 million in aid annually to the Palestinian Authority, which is administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development. He opposed a Congressionally approved three-year package of US$400 million in aid for the Palestinian Authority in 2000 and has also introduced legislation to end aid to Palestinians.[29]

      In May 2008, Cantor said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a “constant sore” but rather “a constant reminder of the greatness of America”,[30] and following Barack Obama’s election as President in November 2008, Cantor stated that a “stronger U.S.-Israel relationship” remains a top priority for him and that he would be “very outspoken” if Obama “did anything to undermine those ties.”[1][31] Shortly after the 2010 midterm elections, Cantor met privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, just before Netanyahu was to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. According to Cantor’s office, he “stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration” and “made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States.”[32] Cantor was criticized for engaging in foreign policy;[33] one basis for the criticism was that in 2007, after Nancy Pelosi met with the President of Syria, Cantor himself had raised the possibility “that her recent diplomatic overtures ran afoul of the Logan Act, which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.”[34]

      Social issues

      Cantor opposes public funding of embryonic stem cell research and opposes elective abortion. He is rated 100% by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and 0% by NARAL Pro-Choice America, indicating a pro-life voting record. He is also opposed to same-sex marriage, voting to Constitutionally define marriage as between a male and a female in 2006. In November 2007 he voted against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. He also supports making flag burning illegal. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) rated him 19% in 2006, indicating an anti-affirmative action voting record. He is opposed to gun control, voting to ban product misuse lawsuits on gun manufacturers in 2005, and he voted not to require gun registration and trigger-lock laws in the District of Columbia. He has a rating of “A” from the National Rifle Association (NRA).[35] On Nov. 2, 2010, Cantor told Wolf Blitzer of CNN that he would try to trim the federal deficit by reducing welfare.”

      Remember it’s wiki– he’s actually worse than all that.

      • seafoid
        seafoid on June 11, 2014, 1:57 pm

        And this was SO important to the people of Richmond that they dumped him. The moral of the story? All politics is local and it’s the economy, stupid

  6. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka on June 11, 2014, 12:00 pm

    “incredible, evil twists of fate”

    What is “evil” in Cantor losing a race?

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