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HSBC divests from Israeli arms company Elbit Systems | Israel News

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Banking giant HSBC has pulled out its investments in Israeli arms firm, Elbit Systems, after a campaign by pro-Palestinian activists.

Sources within HSBC confirmed the move to Al Jazeera on Thursday, but the bank has not issued an official statement on the decision.

The company says it does not take positions on political issues but “observes international human rights principles” that apply to businesses. 






How is BDS affecting Israel

According to a 2017 report by activist group War on Want, HSBC had 3.1m pound sterling ($3.92m) invested in Elbit Systems.

The group, which says it is committed to rooting out the causes of poverty and human rights abuse, said HSBC had a total of 831.5 million pound sterling ($1.05bn) invested in companies that provided equipment to the Israeli military.

Several of the companies listed, such as Rolls Royce and BAE Systems, had a large civilian customer base too.

Based in the city of Haifa, Elbit produces military and civilian-use equipment, including drones, aircraft, weapon control systems, and artillery.

The company’s customers include the Israeli army, the US Air Force, and the British Royal Air Force.

Elbit also provides the US Customs and Border Protection agency with surveillance equipment for use along the US-Mexico border.

‘Positive first step’

War on Want said more than 24,000 people emailed HSBC with concerns over its investment in Elbit and activists picketed retail branches of the bank in the UK. 

Ryvka Barnard, a senior campaigner with War on Want, said the bank had taken “a positive first step” but added that it needed to act further.

“Doing business with companies like Elbit means profiting from violence and human rights violation, which is both immoral and a contravention of international law, ” Barnard said.

“HSBC continues to do business with over a dozen companies selling military equipment and technology used in human rights violation, including Caterpillar, whose bulldozers are used in demolition of Palestinian homes and properties, and BAE Systems, whose weapons are used in war crimes by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other repressive regimes.”

BDS movement

The BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement started in 2005, after a call issued by Palestinian civil society groups for “people of conscience” around the world to help end Israel’s abuses against Palestinians, by cutting off cultural, academic, and economic ties with the state.

With the advent of social media in recent years, the movement has gained traction and popularity among supporters of the Palestinian cause.

Its successes have been enough to earn the ire of senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has sought to ban organisations that promote BDS in Israel.

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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