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The Stop Arming Israel campaign is growing – join it!

On 16 October 2023, 30 Palestinian trade unions launched a worldwide appeal: « End all complicity. Stop Arming Israel ». In France, the campaign was inaugurated by a gathering of activists outside the Milipol arms fair on 15 November. Here’s a progress report four months on.

International review

On an international scale, more than 40 organisations have responded to the appeal. On 14 February, the Indian Dockers’ Union announced that its members would refuse to load and unload ships carrying weapons bound for Israel. On 1 March, the CUT, Brazil’s largest trade union, announced that it was now campaigning for the country to stop importing military equipment from Israel.

Some countries (Spain, Canada, etc.) are beginning to announce that they will stop exporting arms to Israel. We must be vigilant in the face of these declarations, which, although they may constitute grounds for support, are often more announcements than real victories. Are these interruptions permanent or merely temporary? Do they only affect new export licences, or do they affect existing contracts? Are dual-use equipment (civilian and military) and cooperation between companies also affected?

International days of action

Mobilisation is growing around the world. On 4 March, coordinated actions against arms companies took place in several towns in Belgium and Sweden. On Monday 11 March, as part of a global day of action against arms companies complicit in genocide, more than 20 actions took place in at least 4 countries. Internationally, 4 actions took place in Germany (Berlin, Munich, Ulm and Nuremberg) and also in Tromsø in Norway and Aarhus in Denmark.

In France, at least 4 actions took place in the Paris region, in Malakoff, Corbeil, Créteil and Paris. There were 3 actions around Toulouse and 2 in Lyon, as well as others in Marseille, Cholet, Dijon, Cannes, Brest and Saint-Nazaire. Companies targeted: Safran, Thales and Exxelia. Banners were unfurled, rallies were declared or not, sites were redecorated by activists, die-ins were held, leafleting and festive blockades were organised… Activists vied with each other in their creativity to denounce and disrupt the arms trade with Israel.

Since the last day of action on 7 February, the number of coordinated actions has doubled. The slogan and campaign have been taken up in various cities, including Bordeaux, Nantes and Strasbourg, in the form of placards at demonstrations, graffiti, public meetings and stands at universities.

The impact of the campaign in France

The campaign has had a strong impact on the management of the companies targeted. Every time a leafleting is announced, and every time an action is carried out, in an attempt to intimidate us, they deploy a disproportionate security force, calling in the police, moving the territorial intelligence services around and getting the heads of security to come down from their offices. However, as leafleting is a perfectly legal action, they can do no more. In fact, such deployment reinforces the conviction of the activists of the impact of their modest presence. What’s more, it’s amusing to know that companies are systematically writing to their employees to warn them, which is helping to raise our profile!

The workers, on the other hand, continue to generally welcome our presence, and we receive emails of support from some of them. We also supported the Safran workers’ strike for higher wages, which enabled us to strengthen our links with the workers and trade unionists there.

On Sunday 17 March 2024, we published a Guide to French arms companies complicit with Israel, which brings together most of our research to date. This should enable even more activists to take action.

We are very optimistic about the future of the campaign: more and more activists and local groups are taking up the cause, company management is coming under increasing pressure, and the response from employees in the arms industry has been very positive. The sooner we step up this campaign, the sooner we’ll be able to win victories.


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