Grace Wermenbol | Ha’aretz
23 July 2009
Protesters in the New York borough of Queens held a rally last week to call for a boycott of Motorola over the firm’s business dealings with the Israel Defense Forces.
At the demonstration, which was organized by the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, protestors waved Palestinian flags and signs saying: “Goodbye Moto, Goodbye Apartheid,” and “Boycott Motorola, Free Palestine.”
The group also wrote songs and conducted street theater to draw the attention of passersby.
The organization’s spokesperson, Aaron Levitt, told Haaretz this week that over 300 people have signed a petition for a boycott of Motorola after just four events in New York City.
“Every time we go out to flyer, we meet many people who express support for the campaign and even sign our pledge to boycott Motorola,” said Levitt. His organization has more events planned for the coming month.
In June 2007, the New England United Methodist Church named Motorola as one of a number of firms that supported Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Who Profits, a project of the Coalition of Women for Peace, also lists the company as profiting from Israel’s activities in the Palestinian territories.
Motorola has been active in Israel since 1964; it currently provides the IDF with a cellular network through a subsidiary, MIRS.
MIRS provided the IDF with a military-encrypted cellular communication system, nicknamed “Mountain Rose,” which is worth $100 million and was especially constructed for field conditions.
The company’s radar detectors’ and surveillance systems have been reportedly installed in West Bank settlements. Both of these systems had a price tag of more than $90 million.
The department responsible for installing these systems was sold in April 2009 to an Israeli company, Aeronautics Defense Systems, after Motorola had come under fire from several groups in the U.S. over its activities in Israel.
Motorola spokesman Rusty Brashear said the sale of the unit was not triggered by the protests, but because “it primarily doesn’t fit in our portfolio.”
The groups the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the Palestinian National Committee and other organizations worldwide also support a boycott of the phone company.
Motorola was previously boycotted due to its support for the apartheid regime in South Africa. The company supplied South African police with mobile radio transmitters used to suppress demonstrations against the government