Don’t use my tax dollars to fund genocide | Guest Column

By San Juan County Residents for Justice in Palestine.

As we submit our federal income taxes, it is a potent moment to reflect on how our collective funds are spent here in this country and around the world. We are now six months into Israel’s brutal, and genocidal campaign in Gaza in which more than 33,000 people have been killed. These deaths have been directly funded by U.S. aid; our government sends $3.8 billion dollars annually to Israel.

Despite the growing American protest movements and deteriorating public opinion regarding Israel’s conduct in Gaza, last week the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the President approved another $14 billion of aid to Israel. Additionally, the Biden administration just quietly authorized a new arms package which includes thousands of bombs and he is currently pressing Congress to approve a plan to sell $18 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Israel.

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement provides a powerful tool for us to demand our government stop using our tax dollars to fund genocide, and gives us tools for how we as individuals can also take action. BDS is a Palestinian-led global movement for freedom, justice and equality which applies non-violent pressure on Israel to comply with international law. Founded in 2005, Palestinian Civil Society calls the international community to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel and complicit international companies, cultural institutions and governments.

The strategies of the Palestinian-led BDS movement draw on a rich and effective history of boycotting going back to Irish resistance, the American civil rights movement, and South African anti-apartheid movement, to name just a few.

Boycotts call for the withdrawal of consumer support for companies and institutions that are complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. The targets are strategic and specific to leverage maximum economic pressure. Currently, the boycott list includes: AXA, Puma, Hewlett Packard (HP), Sodastream, Sabra Hummus, Ahava, Caterpillar, Intel, Hyundai and Siemens. There are also campaigns that urge sports teams to boycott Israeli sporting events or Israeli cultural institutions and universities. Make informed consumer choices and choose not to purchase from companies on the BDS list.

Divestment campaigns urge public entities, such as cities, counties, states, banks, pension funds and international companies to withdraw financial investments from specific Israeli and International targets. This can be done on the community level, such as the city of Hayward California, which recently voted to divest $1.6 million dollars from companies with ties to Israel. This can also be done on the individual level as we divest our investment portfolios from companies such as Caterpillar, Elbit Systems, and Chevron.

Sanctions are campaigns that pressure governments to end financial aid, military trade and free-trade agreements with Israel, as a way to exert political pressure on the Israeli government to stop the genocide. We must call on our federal representatives to immediately stop using our taxpayer dollars to fund Israel’s illegal genocide.

According to the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Washington state contributes $118 million dollars in taxpayer dollars to federal aid to Israel. In addition, our state has $390 million dollars invested in the top 100 Israeli companies, and over $9 billion dollars invested in the top 100 military contractors globally. Washington state has investments in nine of the eleven companies currently on the BDS divestment list, totalling more than $3 billion dollars.

By supporting the strategies of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, we can express solidarity with the Palestinian people, divest from the mechanisms that subsidize and sustain oppression, and challenge our own complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people.

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