Dalit Baum has found an effective strategy to discourage multinational corporations from doing business in the Israeli-occupied territories: showing the link between profits and the suffering of Palestinians.
The Israeli activist and academic runs Who Profits From the Occupation (www.whoprofits.org), an organization set up to expose businesses that boost their bottom line using Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories. Over the past five years, the organization has named hundreds of culprits involved in private security, banking and construction that have profited from Israeli roadblocks, checkpoints and prisons. And the approach seems to be working.
“We have seen dozens of successes in these campaigns, as companies decided to move out of industrial zones in the Israeli colonies, or pull out of similar illegal occupation contracts,” Baum told the Taipei Times by e-mail earlier this week.
Baum will discuss her activism in a lecture titled People Power in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A View From the Grassroots as part of the Lung Yingtai Cultural Foundation's (龍應台文化基金會) MediaTek Taipei Salon (台北沙龍) series. The talk, which takes place tomorrow and will moderated by ICRT's Harry S. Jones, will outline strategies to pressure corporations into altering their practices and how grassroots activists can link up to affect change.
“People around the world have stopped waiting for their governments to take a stand … and have started to use their own power as consumers, investors, citizens, to withdraw their own support from Israel and Occupation-related business in order to raise the price of those policies, and make them less profitable,” she said.
But Baum's work is more than just holding corporations to account. Her activism seeks to empower women to voice their opposition to a conflict traditionally dominated by men. Following the outbreak of the Second Intifada (Palestinian uprising) in 2000, she joined the Coalition of Women for Peace, a feminist organization formed by Palestinian and Jewish women who work together for a lasting and just peace.
“My hope is that this movement will continue to grow, and that with the power of many local initiatives we will successfully make different governments take a stand too, affect corporate policies, and eventually lead Israel and Palestine into a more democratic and just future,” she said.