End the two way arms trade between the UK and Israel: Letter by Manchester Jews for Justice for Palestinians

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This letter has been written by members of Manchester Jews for Justice for Palestinians and has been endorsed by different groups and individuals in the North West. We call on all individuals, institutions and companies to end the two way arms trade between the UK and Israel and to divest from those companies involved.

We deplore the UK’s complicity in Israeli war crimes; most recently the massacres and destruction of homes and livelihoods in Gaza last summer, 2014. It is well known how Israel has expelled the Palestinian population from their land and enforced a systematic, military and illegal occupation against those that remain.(1) What is less well known is that the UK has been aiding and abetting Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.

Since 2010 UK export licences have been granted for over £42m of UK military hardware and military communications equipment to Israel with over £10m of military export licences agreed in 2013 alone.(2)  We ask: How can UK companies be allowed to profit from exporting arms or components to Israel when these products may be involved with the Israeli bombardment in the summer of 2014 that killed over 2100 people, including over 500 children? A 51-day bombardment that damaged or destroyed over 62 hospitals and clinics, 45 ambulances, (killing 23 medical workers)(3) 250 Palestinian schools and the only civilian power plant in Gaza? (4)

Israel is a leading arms exporter with its weapons advertised as “battle proven” as a result of Israel’s regular experimentation of high-tech weapons on the Gaza Strip and elsewhere. Speaking to the German magazine Der Spiegel, Avner Benzaken, head of the Israeli army’s “technology and logistics” division said, “If I develop a product and want to test it in the field, I only have to go five or 10 kilometres from my base and I can look and see what is happening with the equipment, I get feedback, so it makes the development process faster and much more efficient” (5). It is unacceptable that the UK is buying millions of pounds of weapon technology and weapons developed through using the besieged human population in Gaza as an arms-testing laboratory.

We ask that all individuals, institutions and companies divest from the firms that support the arms trade with Israel.  British-based banks, like Barclays and HSBC, finance weapons companies which sell to the Israeli military. They both have invested in Israeli armaments companies like “Elbit Systems” which has factories in the Midlands, and in UK firms such as “BAE Systems”.

The role of “Elbit Systems” in the UK was highlighted by the 9 protesters who occupied and closed the factory of their UK subsidiary “UAV Engines” in Shenstone, Stafford for two days in 2014. The recent collapse of the case against them demonstrates that the UK is aware and embarrassed that the manufacture in the UK of drone engines and other components for Israeli weapons is directly contributing to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. (6)

We urge you to heed the Palestinian call for the boycott of Israeli products, divestment from firms that support Israel and sanctions against the Israeli regime. (7)

The UK need not be complicit in such evident crimes against humanity. Crimes against a people who are mostly children and refugees; a people who need the world to stop turning their backs on the endless catastrophes that the most heavily militarised army in the middle east has imposed on them.  The two way multi-million pound trade in weapons and components between the UK and Israel should end now.

Endorsement of letter 

  1. Blackburn Drive For Justice
  2. Bolton Boycott Divestment and Sanctions
  3. Bolton Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
  4. Bolton Stop the War Coalition
  5. Campaign Against the Arms Trade Manchester
  6. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Manchester
  7. Greater Manchester and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
  8. Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition
  9. Jess Lishak Women’s Officer University of Manchester
  10. Liverpool Friends of Palestine
  11. Liverpool Friends of Palestine Student Group
  12. Liverpool Pax Christi
  13. Manchester Mental Health and Community UNISON Branch
  14. Manchester Metropolitan University Action Palestine
  15. Manchester Palestine Action
  16. Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  17. MP Gerald Kaufman
  18. Merseyside Jews for Peace and Justice
  19. Pendle Palestine Twinning Group
  20. Rochdale and Littleborough Peace Group
  21. University of Manchester Action Palestine









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Good news. One of my great enlightening moments came some years ago in a conversation with one such Mancunian (a friend of friends of mine), who told me: don’t confuse Israelis with the [generality of] Jews of London or Manchester. The former have more in common with the folks from the Bible Belts of the USA and Northern Ireland. I paraphrase – he was a lot ruder about them than that.

“British-based banks, like Barclays and HSBC, finance weapons companies which sell to the Israeli military.” As I read it, this is a call for people and companies and institutions to divest from and boycott such banks as well as from Elbit, etc. If so, this is a sort of double-whammy for these banks. The call is for everyone to get clear of (boycott, divest) these banks (owners of shares to sell, depositors to remove deposits,… Read more »