Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding

'The message they give us is the exact opposite of the reality, they're acting like they're part of our community,' he said

Jenn Selby
Friday 15 August 2014 13:18 BST

Russell Brand has gone one step further in his condemnation of the Israel-Gaza conflict than simply critiquing the way various media outlets have approached coverage.

Now, the comedian is urging banks, pension funds and other big businesses to sever investment ties with Israel, or any deals that he feels “facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza”.

Using Barclays as an example, he said the bank manages “the portfolios of an Israeli defence company called Elbit, which makes the drones that bomb Gaza.”

"The message they give us is the exact opposite of the reality, they're acting like they're part of our community," he said during his new episode of The Trews, which you can watch below.

"But if we're aware of the reality of what they do, then we have the power to influence them."

He went on to encourage his viewers to sign a petition on the Avaaz campaign website, to put pressure on companies such as Barclays, computer company HP, security giants G4S, pension fund ABP and heavy machinery Caterpillar brand to rethink their investments.

So far, it has amassed almost 1.7million signatures of support.

"In the wake of the terrible violence unfolding in Israel-Palestine, we, citizens from around the world, are deeply concerned about your companies’ continued investment in companies and projects that finance illegal settlements and the oppressive occupation of the Palestinian people," the mission statement on the petition reads.

"17 EU countries recently issued warnings to their citizens against doing business or investing in illegal Israeli settlements. Given those legal considerations, you now have the opportunity to withdraw investments and respect international law. This is a chance to be on the right side of history."

Some of the firms listed in the petition had previously spoken of their decision to maintain financial ties in Israel.

HP claimed that "respecting human rights is a core value" of their business and said that they used Israeli checkpoints to allow people to "get to their place of work or to carry out their business in a faster and safer way".

Meanwhile, Caterpillar said that while it "shares the world's concern over unrest in the Middle East", it doesn’t believe it has “neither the legal right nor the means to police individual use of its equipment”.

Brand’s comments come after the business secretary Vince Cable threatened to halt 12 export licences to Israel if the violence in Gaza resumes, including components for combat aircraft, tanks and radar systems.

The government have, however, exported £42million of military equipment to Israel since 2010.

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