Interview with Dalit Baum, project coordinator of Who Profits from the Occupation, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
Between the Lines Radio, distributed by Squeaky Wheel Productions, week ending February 13, 2009 - As more people around the world have become aware of Israel 's abuse of the rights of Palestinians -- both with its recent attack on Gaza and its violent, restrictive and humiliating occupation of the West Bank -- there is growing interest in targeting the economic underpinnings of Israel 's power and control.
A longstanding Israeli political organization, the Coalition of Women for Peace, has spent the past two years researching three issues related to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land: industries located within the illegal settlements of the West Bank, the economic exploitation of Palestinians, and the companies that help Israel enforce its brand of apartheid. The group has recently launched a website called "Who Profits from the Occupation," detailing the activities of some 200 Israeli and international companies.
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Dalit Baum, who teaches feminist theory at Haifa University and is project coordinator for Who Profits from the Occupation. She explains how members of her group became involved and what their research revealed. Baum expresses hope that the website will serve as an informational clearinghouse for individuals and groups, inside and outside Israel , working for corporate accountability, social justice and labor rights.
Dalit Baum: We understood that it is not only political or religious interests that fuel the occupation – not anymore. More and more over the years we found out there are economic interests involved. Not only that, but the occupation itself has an economic arm – it used economic tools to oppress and repress the Palestinian population. So even though we are a feminist organization that deals with public opinion and we are very adept working with words, we decided we wanted to know more about the economics of it, in order to try and change it, and influence the economic interests And that’s how we started. We started two years ago, and we are not economists or researchers – we’re just activists. And we started going out to the checkpoints in the West Bank – going out to the Wall, the fence, the settlements – taking pictures, asking questions, trying to see around us which are the logos or the companies or the corporate symbols we see around us, so we can see who’s involved, who has a stake in it. And now we came up with this website, which is just the beginning of the culmination of our work, because we actually have more than 1,000 companies in our database, and we’ve put online only 200 so far, because we’re trying to build a case against each and every one of them, and be very careful about documenting all our information and checking each and every fact, so this takes time.
Between the Lines: What are some of the most egregious things you’ve found, in terms of what companies are doing there?Dalit Baum: You know, it’s very interesting.... [Full interview and audio available at the link.]