Britain’s Barclays Bank purportedly sold its $2.9million stake in Elbit Systems following pressure from BDS campaigners.
This move comes 5 months after a huge campaign orchestrated by BDS activist as part of the growing call for western companies to stop ‘financing the occupation’.
Global activist site, Avaaz, ran a petition which garnered over 1.75 million signatures against Barclays maintaining interests in Elbit. This was compounded by over 15 sit-ins held at Barclays branches across the UK, with groups such as the PSC, Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign Against Arms Trade and others joining. The protests forced several branches to close over security concern, results which were heralded by the BDS movement as an achievement.
Mahmoud Nawajaa, of the Palestinian BDS National Committee said:
“The fact that Barclays is no longer listed as a shareholder in Elbit Systems is a welcome development. Elbit plays a key role in Israel’s brutal massacres of Palestinians and in the proliferation of drone technology across the world, and is helping Israel to construct and maintain its illegal apartheid Wall.”
“The creative campaign against Barclays, including the huge Avaaz petition and the occupations of its branches, has really tuned the heat up on the bank.”
“We hope that Barclays will now commit to not allowing clients to buy or sell Elbit shares on its platform and to making it clear to all its clients that Elbit is deeply complicit with Israeli violations of international law.”
“We call on Barclays to sell its shares in all other arms companies that supply the Israeli military, including Raytheon and BAE Systems.”
However, in August 2014, eight months prior to the BDS movement’s announcement of their success, the bank released a statement claiming “Barclays is not an investor in Elbit Systems Ltd.”
The discrepancy in narratives illustrates the questionable nature of this BDS victory claim.
The assertion that the sale of Elbit shares was the consequence of the pressure applied by the campaign is wholly unfounded, as the shares were offloaded a full five months after the sit-ins. Moreover, according to Barclays, they did not hold a stake in Elbit during August 2014 at the time Operation Protective Edge was ongoing.
From the end of the conflict to April 2015, when the PSC announced Barclays had sold their interests, Elbit shares increased in value from around $60 to $80. It is therefore equally likely that Barclays offloaded their stake for economic reasons, a theory that is reaffirmed by the fact that the bank continues to hold Elbit stocks for its investment clients.
The BDS movement is all too quick to take credit despite the distinct lack of evidence, and the pro-Israel community must be careful not to become panicked by this scaremongering tactic.