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Baum speaks on economic aspects of the occupation

By Danielle Gross
On November 21, 2011

Dalit Baum, an Israeli feminist and activist, came to speak this past Tuesday about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and who profits from it.

The event was sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine and Brandeis Jewish Voice for Peace and was co-sponsored by Global Exchange.

The event was part of the Brandeis Palestine Awareness Week. Other speakers brought to campus for the week included professor Noam Chomsky, film director Terje Carlsson and Nimer Sultany.

Carlsson screened the film Israel vs. Israel and participated in a question-and-answer session afterward with Seth Grande '12 and Noam Lekach '14. The film "focus[es] on [four] Israelis[:] one grandmother, one rabbi, one anarchist and one ex-soldier, who are trying to put an end to the Israeli occupation," according to the event description on myBrandeis.

Sultany, a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School, discussed the issue of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

Baum is a teacher at Haifa University in Israel who has been working for years with various feminist and queer organizations, including Anarchists Against the Wall, Black Laundry and Boycott From Within. She is also the founder of Who Profits, an industry research project on the Israeli occupation to see who gains from it.

Baum is a prominent figure in the Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions movement, which promotes abstaining from buying products of Israeli-settlement based corporations until Israel "complies with international law and Palestinian rights," according to the movement's website.

The five main tactics used in her "direct action" approach are pictures, collecting evidence after protests, collecting evidence from the settlements, interviews and Internet research.

Baum said that Combined Systems, Inc., a U.S.-based firm, is the main supplier of tear gas to the Israeli Army, thus allowing the company to profit from the occupation.

The next group that Baum discussed was G4S, a private security company that provides equipment for Israeli-run checkpoints and terminals in the West Bank and Gaza.

According to Baum's website and her speech, G4S has provided security systems to detention and interrogation facilities where evidence has been collected showing that Palestinian prisoners have been tortured.

Baum also discussed Elbit Systems, a war technologies company that created "G-NIUS," an armed, unmanned vehicle.

Although it has never fired at anyone, the company is only allowed to test the device in Palestine, according to Baum. They also have a technology called "The Scream," a chime that emits a sound only three decibels lower than that needed to inflict pain in humans, said Baum.

Baum ended her presentation by talking about how 20 family-owned business groups control about 50 percent of the Israeli stock market.

The 10 largest of these 20 control about 30 percent of the market in Israel. These are the real people that Baum said profit from the occupation.

Natan Odenheimer '15 attended the event hoping to get an explanation about the economical powers that work in the West Bank and Gaza.

He also mentioned that he was very interested in hearing about the benefits from the occupation. "I was not shocked by anything that I heard. The event was very interesting in that it gave me greater details about things that I already knew." 

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