One of Boris Johnson’s key donors is linked to an ongoing ‘war crime’ in occupied Palestine

JCB machinery destroying homes in Palestine
Support us and go ad-free

An open letter to JCB and its owners Anthony and Carole Bamford has condemned their role in an ongoing “war crime” in occupied Palestine. Bamford and JCB are also among Boris Johnson’s biggest donors.

“Justice and human rights worldwide”

The Bamford family has an estimated wealth of £3.6bn. Since 2001, Electoral Commission records show the Bamfords and JCB have given “almost £10m in political donations”, primarily to the Conservative Party and groups “campaigning to leave” the EU. In 2019 alone, Bamford and JCB made “nine separate donations” to Johnson; and in June, these donations totalled £28,000.

The letter calls on the Bamfords to show “concern for justice and human rights worldwide”, and notes:

July marked the anniversary of the 2018 Israeli preparations to destroy the entire village of Khan al Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank.

The planned demolition of Khan al-Ahmar was widely condemned as a war crime. Although “international outcry” halted demolitions, JCB-manufactured bulldozers took part in the “attempted expulsion”. The letter continues:

Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes carries on almost daily. 461 demolitions were carried out in 2018 in the West Bank alone. They are an integral part of the Israeli State’s repressive military occupation aimed at displacing Palestinian communities and building Israeli settlements in their place.

“War crime”

As The Canary reported, on 22 July three Palestine solidarity activists were found guilty of blockading a UK JCB factory in 2018. They were protesting against the use of JCB machinery in Israel’s ongoing policy of demolishing Palestinian homes, communities and livelihoods. On the same day, Israeli forces started demolishing people’s homes in occupied Palestine. They reportedly used JCB, Hyundai, and Caterpillar machinery during the demolition.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

As the letter states, those activists also want the Bamfords to know that “Comasco, JCB’s sole Israeli representative” sells and leases JCB equipment to “the Israeli Civil Administration”. According to Comasco, Israel “clearly prefers JCB” and it dominates the market. This equipment is also used to demolish Palestinian “homes and schools”. 

The letter asks for JCB and the Bamfords to “grasp the gravity of the situation in Palestine”. It also notes that:

The planned demolition of Khan Al-Ahmar has been named a war crime by the ICC prosecutor, EU and the United Nations.

The Bamfords could “prevent JCB machinery being used in the Israeli State’s demolition policy”. The signatories urge them to take action to do so.

“Human rights”

The letter flags “responsibilities” integral to the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also has stringent “guidelines to ensure human rights compliance and due diligence” within business supply chains. Yet as the letter notes, JCB failed to respond to requests “to comply with these responsibilities” from several “legal and campaign groups”. The groups include War on Want, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.

The letter states:

We are concerned that your relationship with Comasco, and your business in Israel in general, are not currently fulfilling these international business human rights guidelines.

It continues to state that, in 2018, JCB products:

were used… in at least 130 demolitions, including the destruction of at least 2 schools and 31 homes. These demolitions displaced 163 people, including 31 children.

Palestine

The letter also points out that Carole Bamford’s charitable work claims to support communities and children in the UK and globally. So it urged her “to recognise” the impact of Israel using JCB equipment against Palestinian communities and children.

Johnson has also appointed members of the secretive TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) to key government roles. In 2009, the Guardian reported that a spokesperson said Bamford “helped fund the TPA”. The TPA also ran “a campaign against radicalising schoolbooks published by the Palestinian Authority”.

Featured image via Corporate Occupation used with permission

Support us and go ad-free

Get involved

  • Read the letter to the Bamfords and JCB in full here. Journalists and editors from The Canary are also signatories.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us