Since January 2019, Boris Johnson has received £121,000 from one billionaire donor. And that same donor is linked to “war crimes” in occupied Palestine. So when Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently visited Johnson, it was disturbing to see that diplomatic links between the two were stronger than ever.
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 June alone, these donations totalled £28,000.
As The Canary previously reported, JCB machinery has been used in Israel’s ongoing policy of demolishing Palestinian homes, communities, and livelihoods. In July, Israeli forces demolished people’s homes in occupied Palestine. They reportedly used JCB, Hyundai, and Caterpillar machinery during the demolition.
In 2018, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda issued a statement saying:
I have been following with concern the planned eviction of the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, in the West Bank. Evacuation by force now appears imminent, and with it the prospects for further escalation and violence.
It bears recalling, as a general matter, that extensive destruction of property without military necessity and population transfers in an occupied territory constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute.
I am similarly alarmed by the continued violence, perpetrated by actors on both sides, at the Gaza border with Israel.
Yet JCB has refused to halt involvement in these demolitions.
In July, an open letter called on Bamford and JCB to show “concern for justice and human rights worldwide”. It also noted that “many of the bulldozers” used in “attempted” demolitions “were manufactured by JCB”. It continued:
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.
The letter also reminded Bamford about its responsibilities under the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Similarly, 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.
Righter than right
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”. Shahmir Sanni, who blew the whistle on the Vote Leave campaign’s overspending during the 2016 referendum, stated that organisations like the TPA play “a dirty game”. He also said this goes:
to the heart of the British establishment and exposes a covert relationship that operates between the government, these “thinktanks” and the media.
JCB profits, meanwhile, continue to soar. As Insider Media noted:
it achieved a turnover of £3.3bn for the year to 31 December 2017, up from £2.6bn in 2016.
Johnson pushes the UK further into political crisis on a daily basis. But with the focus on his right-wing government and parliament, it’s vital that we don’t forget the billionaires who’ve been there every step of the way, investing and pumping money into his project. We urgently need to ask what power and influence £121,000 buys.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Johnson’s biggest donor’s complicit in “war crimes”. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep the pressure on and call this out every step of the way. Because we owe that to every Palestinian child, woman, and man.
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