Astoria protest against Motorola: Photo by NYCBI

Astoria protest against Motorola: Photo by NYCBI


In Queens, singing protesters urge Motorola boycott due to complicity in Israeli rights abuses

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For Immediate Release

Astoria, NY, July 11 – Twenty New York human rights advocates captivated Astoria, Queens shoppers today with songs and street theater calling for a boycott of communications giant Motorola until it stops selling products that aid Israel’s army and settlement movement. Today’s protest outside a Sprint store selling Motorola cellphones on Steinway Street was the second of five summer actions planned by the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (NYCBI). The protests are part of a growing worldwide boycott movement, which gained momentum with Israel’s attack on Gaza killing 1400 Palestinians.

Holding Palestinian flags and signs saying, “Goodbye Moto, Goodbye Apartheid,” and “Boycott Motorola, Free Palestine,” protestors distributed hundreds of flyers to shoppers. Forty-two people signed pledges not to buy Motorola products. Many passersby who were heading to the Arab-American section of Steinway Street expressed gratitude and support for the campaign.

Protestors drew on classic songs from the African-American civil rights struggle as well as popular hit songs to tell shoppers about Motorola’s role in Israel’s violation of international law. To the tune of the 1963 top-40 hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter from Camp),” NYCBI singers addressed Motorola: “Hello Moto, here’s a photo/ This is me not buying your phone/ Not because we’re in recession/ But because of Palestinian dispossession.” To the tune of the theme to the TV show Gilligan’s Island they sang, “Come sit with us and you’ll hear a tale/ Of an occupation force/ That’s taking people’s land and lives/ With corporate help, of course.” Street theater drew parallels between the occupation of Palestinian lands, the displacement of Native Americans, and colonization and apartheid in South Africa. Previously, Motorola was the target of a successful boycott campaign for its support of Apartheid South Africa.

The protest came just after the fifth anniversary of the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague that Israel’s wall and settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory violate international law. On the first anniversary in 2005, after governments failed to act on the ICJ decision, over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations called for worldwide Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israeli institutions and businesses. Because it produces equipment for Israel’s settlements and army, Motorola has been targeted for boycott by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, NYCBI and other groups.

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 Israeli watchdog group Who Profits, a related system, MotoEagle Surveillance, is now in use in 16 settlements. 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 May or 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.

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