A Civic Consciousness
It’s a Monday morning in England. The sun is absent, in its place thick grey clouds dropping constant rain. Streets are wet, umbrellas are up, and jackets are pulled tight to keep out the chill. But thank God you are alive.
Palestinians are dying.
Since October 7th more than 15,000 have been slaughtered by missiles and tank shells and bombs and bullets. 6,000 of the murdered are children. In addition, 7,000 have disappeared – assumed dead in the rubble and ruins that now is Ghazzah.
Fifty miles away, in the occupied West Bank, over 250 Palestinians have been fatally gunned down since October 7th by Israeli security forces and a militia of illegal settlers. On Wednesday, an eight-year-old boy was assassinated by Israeli occupation forces – shot in the back. Despite the crime being captured on film Western governments were unmoved.
In a parental tone, political talking heads tell us it’s all necessary – an acceptable price to maintain the apartheid state of Israel. Mainstream media eagerly packages sound bites and plays them in a loop designed to drown out any alternative narratives. But on a rainy Monday morning ACORN union members temporarily punctured the Orwellian Ministry of Truth that is deployed in defence of the bloody genocide in Ghazzah, as they simultaneously picketed three different arms companies and spoke truth to power.
Meggitt is a strange entity, the union of a West Yorkshire tool manufacturer, a Dorset-based light engineering business, and a Fortune 250 technology company. The result is a 9,000-person company specialising in energy markets, aerospace and defence. The latter, including military aircraft subcomponents, munitions handling and weapon scoring systems, contributes approximately 40% of Meggitt’s revenue. Meggitt is in the death business which makes its grammatically-challenged tagline “Enabling Engineering Breakthroughs that Leads to a Better Tomorrow” both distasteful and dishonest.
The awkward attempts at feigning respectability are further stretched as Meggitt trumpets its commitment to the communities they are part of, and who can count on them “to act with integrity, honesty, and respect.”
Early Monday morning ACORN, a community-based union, picketed the entrance of Meggitt’s Longbridge facility. Large red banners were unfolded spelling out how locals feel about having a death factory on their doorstep. ‘Meggitt Not Welcome’ read one. Another advocated ‘Build Communities Not Weapons.’ ACORN members claim Meggitt is supplying subcomponents to the Israeli armed forces, which in turn are being used on civilians.
Paul Barnes, ACORN’s West Midlands Area Organiser: “We believe that, through non-violent demonstration and protest, we can highlight activity we believe should be called out. We held a blockade at the [Meggitt] company gates this morning with the intention of speaking with employees arriving there. Our union’s research indicates they [Meggitt] are involved in supplying parts to Israeli fighter jets.”
Monday was not the first time Meggitt has been singled out. In 2017 War on Want issued a damning report suggesting some UK banks may be deemed complicit in Israeli war crimes against Palestinians, due to their investment in certain defence companies. Meggitt was one of the defence companies listed.
Ninety miles south of Longbridge a handful of ACORN members picketed Leonardo’s Bristol office. They peacefully unfolded a large white sheet with green lettering announcing Leonardo was not welcome in their community. A lock was placed over the office doors temporarily sealing the entrance, resulting in workers being turned away. It was an act of civic consciousness, and a public shaming of a company that monetises brutal deaths.
Leonardo is the world’s 13th largest arms company, and its weaponry is vicious. Its Apache attack helicopters (built under licence from Boeing) were widely used in illegal wars in Afghanistan and Libya, while its Lynx model was deployed during the illegal occupation of Iraq. Leonardo’s jointly developed T-129 attack helicopters have been used against Kurdish groups and its Eurofighter Typhoons were put to deadly use in Yemen.
They provide border security and surveillance systems and play a significant role in militarising Europe’s borders. They are also alleged to have been involved in corruption scandals in South Korea, India, and Panama.
Unsurprisingly, Leonardo has a long history of supplying Israel with the weapons of oppression and war including subcomponents for helicopters and fighter jets, some of which have been used to bomb Gaza according to news outlet Anadolu. In March 2023, they announced ‘a long-term structural presence’ to leverage Israel’s innovation. They politely omitted what the innovation would be focused on, but I think we can guess.
ACORN’s third action on Monday was at BAE’s Leeds office. The entrance to the modern glass-fronted building was blocked by a dozen red-vested community members. Word soon spread that workers were leaving, and the site would be closed for the day.
Monday’s action wasn’t the first. Just three days earlier Parents for Palestine had lain siege to the same building. About 100 parents, babies and small children were involved, and black balloons were released to mark the scandalous number of children killed by Israel during its frenzied attack on Ghazzah.
BAE Systems ranks as the world’s seventh largest military contractor. According to AFSC it has supplied Israel with components for ‘combat aircraft, munitions, missile launching kits, and armoured vehicles.’ In addition, BAE technologies are also integrated into Israel’s main weapon systems, including drones, warships, and fighter jets. BAE is a key supplier of components to Israel’s newest fighter-bomber, the F-35, which Israel has suffixed with Adir, or ‘Mighty One’ in Hebrew. The F-35 has been used to provide air support to ground troops in Ghazzah according to Israeli military chief Herzi Halevi.
An Illegal Blockade, a Genocide and a Court Trial
There are some moments that are so bad they can only be forgotten when something even more horrifying happens.
Ghazzah and her people have been under an illegal air, sea and land blockade since 2007. Goods are only permitted in and out of the territory under the auspice of Israel. Even the Ghazzah-Egypt border is effectively controlled by Israel. Movement of people is under licence and involves a de-humanising process of ID checks, queuing and searches. Eighty percent of Ghazzans rely on humanitarian assistance, and eighty percent of its youth are unemployed. In July 2023 U.N. Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese concluded Ghazzah was in effect an open-air prison. Before the October 7th assault, Israel periodically bombed Ghazzah and was suspected of multiple war crimes.
But now, that is forgotten because something far worse is happening. Genocide.
Ninety minutes south of Amsterdam near the Belgian border is the town of Woensdrecht. It has a population of 20,000 and an air force base. The base is home to the Royal Netherlands Air Force Military School and the Woensdrecht Logistics Centre, and it’s the latter that is cited in a court case which could determine if the Netherlands is complicit in alleged war crimes in Ghazzah.
The logistics centre holds parts for F-35 fighter jets, and despite lawyers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs warning of possible violations of humanitarian law by Israel, the Dutch government approved the supply of spare parts and components. The F-35s went on to become operational in the prolonged attack on Ghazzah.
The Dutch government had previously intervened, stopping exports when there was a risk of war crimes being committed. Between 2004 and 2020, the Netherlands refused permits for the export of military goods to Israel 29 times.
Three days after ACORN’s actions against Meggitt, Leonardo and BAE Systems a case against the Dutch government opened in the Hague. The plaintiffs, which include local chapters of Amnesty International and Oxfam, allege ‘the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel makes the Netherlands complicit in war crimes in Ghazzah.’
Commenting on ACORN’s actions, Chair Chelsea Phillips said: “We believe that solidarity and the desire for justice are fundamental to being human. We stand with our brothers and sisters suffering in Ghazzah and beyond.”
One is left wondering how many acts of solidarity are needed before the genocide stops.
On the morning of December 1st, a week-long ceasefire ended in Ghazzah. By midnight 180 Palestinians had been killed, most of them are assumed to be civilians, the majority are expected to be children.
©2023 Sul Nowroz – Real Media staff writer
FOOTAGE FROM GAZA AS ISRAELI BOMBARDMENT RESUMES (1st December):
WARNING – GRAPHIC IMAGES – VIEWER DISCRETION RECOMMENDED.