Brooklyn, NY, July 25 – Fifteen New York human rights advocates strolled through Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Saturday for two and a half hours, singing songs calling on park-goers to boycott communications giant Motorola until it stops providing technology that aids Israel”s army and settlement movement in committing human rights abuses. The protesters carried a 13-foot-wide banner that was seen by thousands of park-goers saying “Boycott Motorola”, “Free Palestine,” “Goodbye Motorola, Goodbye Apartheid.” The protest is part of a growing worldwide movement to boycott Israel that has gained momentum since Israel”s recent attack on Gaza killing 1400 Palestinians.
With Prospect Park crowded on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the group walked through grassy fields packed with thousands of barbequers and frisbee-players. Many park-goers paused to read the banner and signs and listen to the songs. Hundreds took flyers calling for a boycott of Motorola, many asking questions. Some said they knew of the Motorola boycott, while others sang along with the groups” catchy boycott tunes.
As one protester walked while strumming a guitar, the group serenaded park-goers with “Mama Said (Don’t Build Settlements)” to the tune of the song by the Shirelles, “Don’t Buy Israeli Goods” to the tune of “Hava Nagila,” and with adapted versions of the civil rights classics “Which Side Are You On?” and “Ain”t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round.” In a updated version of “Down by the Riverside,” protesters sang, “We”re gonna boycott Israel, “Til Palestine is Free, “Til Palestine is Free, “Til Palestine is Free,” and finished with, “We”re gonna boycott Moto too, Won”t let them rest until, They profit from war no more.”
The Brooklyn protest, organized by the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (NYCBI), was the third of five summer actions to educate New Yorkers about Motorola”s complicity in Israeli human rights abuses and violations of international law. The New York Motorola protests were the subject of a Friday news article in the influential Israeli newspaper Ha”aretz Daily.
Motorola has supplied the Israeli military with a Wide Area Surveillance System (WASS), radar devices and thermal cameras installed around Israel”s rapidly expanding settlement/colonies on Palestinian land in the West Bank. According to the website “Who Profits,” a project of Israel”s Coalition of Women for Peace, a follow-on system, MotoEagle Surveillance, is now in use in 16 settlements. All Israeli settlements violate international law. Motorola also provides an encrypted cellular network to the Israeli army, whose routine and severe violations of Palestinian human rights are well-documented by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others. According to Who Profits, MIRS, a subsidiary of Motorola, is the Israeli army’s cellular services provider, and MIRS has an extensive infrastructure network in the West Bank. Additionally, in April, 2009 Motorola stated that by June it would sell a controversial unit that manufactured bomb fuses for Israeli bombs dropped on Palestinians and Lebanese, but there has been no confirmation that the sale has occurred. Human Rights Watch found Motorola parts at a site Israel bombed in Gaza this winter.
In 2005 over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations called on the world to implement Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israeli institutions and businesses. Because of its business activities supporting the Israel”s settlements and army, Motorola has been targeted for boycott by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, NYCBI and groups nationwide.