By : BCN Contributors
8 min read
BDS Boston is a group of activists in the Greater Boston area dedicated to the liberation of Palestine. In addition to boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), we also support Palestinians' right to resist colonization, occupation, and genocide, by any means necessary. We first came together in the campaign against international boycott target Hewlett Packard, then spent a year and a half picketing Puma headquarters in Somerville and targeting them for boycott due to their sponsorship of the Israel Football Association (IFA).
BDS Boston joined the international campaign against Elbit Systems in early 2023, building on the successes of Palestine solidarity groups around the world in physically shutting down Elbit facilities and weakening stock prices. BDS Boston sees Elbit Systems' Cambridge-based subsidiary as a necessary and strategic target. Elbit is Israel's largest weapons developer; though there are several weapons developers in Cambridge, we chose to target Elbit first because of its role in everyday harms faced by Palestinians, and its use of Palestinians as a captive population on which to test technologies. Elbit-made missiles, bombs, tanks, drones and drone-guided missiles are a central part of the machinery of colonialism against the Palestinian population and the ongoing acceleration of genocide in Gaza.
Elbit Systems markets its weapons and surveillance technologies as "battle-proven,” meaning, proven in battle against captive Palestinians, then exports them to repressive governments worldwide, including Azerbaijan, the Philippines, Myanmar/Burma, Chile, and the United States for its militant border policing and surveillance. Elbit's fully-owned Cambridge subsidiary, KMC Systems, markets itself as a "medical contract manufacturing, engineering and design firm," but in a January 2022 podcast interview, KMC vice-president Derek Kane suggested that there are “synergies” between KMC and Elbit's work. Kane said that “for Elbit, there’s a lot of adjacency technologies with what KMC does, and what our parent company does in terms of thermal cycling, and electro optics and imaging, etc." Also, in response to a Mondoweiss article about a protest outside their Cambridge offices, Elbit did not try to differentiate itself from its subsidiary, but took the opportunity to be direct, stating "we stand with Israel" just as Israel began a stepped-up genocidal campaign against Palestinians in October 2023.
We are a fairly new campaign, and so far our primary focus has been on educating and mobilizing the local community around Elbit and its brutal reach. Our tactics have included canvassing Cambridge residents and surrounding businesses, stand-outs in front of the office at 130 Bishop Allen Dr, and calling Elbit's landlord and co-tenants, following efforts by Palestine Action, who have also been targeting Elbit Systems in Cambridge through powerful direct action. This past Saturday, we held an event to bring community members together for art, song, education, and action-building around Elbit.
As we are at the beginning of our campaign, our strategy is still evolving. So please consider joining us and helping us evolve our tactics and our vision! You can also sign onto the Elbit campaign by signing our petition at bit.ly/ElbitPetition.
Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #165 January 2024
Check out all the art and columns of January's Boston Compass at www.issuu.com/bostoncccompass