Globalise the campaign to #ShutElbitDown

Apr 30, 2023

I’m writing this the night before the siege. There’s a great big shadow hanging over us: tomorrow, a war begins. Not the usual kind of war, where great powers clash and leave scores of dead in their wake. What comes tomorrow is a war for life, not a war for the annexation of territory, but the creation of a space from below where a people might live their lives free from terror and oppression. From May 1st, Palestine Action will lay siege to the UAV Tactical Systems (U-TacS) factory in Leicester, England. Mobilizing a whole mass of people, we’ll be putting down roots, surrounding one of Israel’s arms factories in the UK, and we’re not leaving until U-TacS parent company, Elbit Systems, leaves. Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest arms maker, providing 85% of Israel’s drone fleet amongst other services. These are the stakes.

I’m writing this not to our usual audience, those in the United Kingdom, but to those people across the world. Whilst the siege represents an important turning point in our campaign to Shut Elbit Down, it bears worth saying something that might seem counterintuitive: it’s not enough.

The hydra has many heads, and we have to work quickly before two more grow in one’s place. We have a national campaign, but we didn’t start this to give Britain a clear conscience, we’re working to help make Palestine free, from the river to the sea. This is why we’re asking our comrades around the world to join the movement to dismantle Israel’s arms trade. That’s why we’re asking you to help Shut Elbit Down.

If you’re reading this, you probably agree with our aims. But you might think to yourself: what can I really do? The sheer scale of the siege probably seems overwhelming, and the pace at which we work might make you feel like you’ve been left behind. But you shouldn’t worry: we were in that position once too. Everybody has to start small. The siege is the result of our efforts, it is not the starting point. You might also ask: how can I help you, you’re an ocean away? Well, all of these questions are why I am writing this. You don’t have to match us action for action. You start off small, and build up the movement from there. These are the things you can do to achieve that.

  • Start Where You’re At – Simple enough. If you want to know what you can do against Elbit, just find out where Elbit is. With a simple google search you can find your local Elbit site. Failing that you can find the local site of any arms company with links to Israel.  As CLR James said, ‘genuine internationalism must be based on the national scene.’ From there, you can start planning what to do.
  • Make Some Noise – You’ll want to draw attention to the fact you have War Criminals next door. There’s a variety of things you can do to achieve this. An important thing to remember is this doesn’t just mean on social media. Situate yourself in your local space: banner drops, talks, protests and (if you’re feeling confident enough) direct action.
  • Shut It Down – Once you feel up to it, you’ll want to start interrupting the war machine. Now whilst occupying a factory roof does achieve this and draws a lot of attention, you can also go after secondary targets. If there’s any companies complicit in the war machine, such as shipping companies and landlords, go after them too and let them know you won’t stand for their business practices. We’ll come back to this point in a bit to help get you informed on how to practice direct action.
  • Don’t Stop The most important part. Actions may look flashy, but they’re not as effective as they might seem if just done once. So you have to keep going. As the Zapatista SupGaleano said, ‘Your struggle, our struggle, the struggle of those below in general, depends on resistance; on not giving up, not selling out, not giving in.’ This is where drawing attention comes in handy, because it’s not just you doing the work, but a whole movement of people. We’re stronger together.

Who knows? You might one day be pulling off sieges of your own. And already you’re not alone. In the USA, BDS Boston has started resistance to a new facility opened by Elbit Systems in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They’re out on the streets saying ‘No’ to the War Machine.

If you want to know more about direct action, Palestine Action will be running a workshop on International solidarity on Saturday 13th May 7PM GMT. Register for that here. We’ll be providing information on how direct action works in a practical sense, how to keep yourself safe, and what to expect.

Elbit Systems is a part of Israel’s military apparatus, which it uses to maintain settler colonialism in Palestine. It is, by extension, part of the wider Military Industrial Complex. Such a beast, a hydra, can only be killed by constant action, resisting as much as you can for however long you can. It may seem intimidating, but again: remember we were once in your position. We started off spraying the British HQ of Elbit with red paint, and now we’ve turned Zionist siege warfare against its biggest arms manufacturer. All through the refusal of people to accept complicity in apartheid, and take action from below. You have the power to do this too.

We’ll see you on the front lines.

Signed by a breaker,

Ned Ludd