19 Apr, 2024

Palestinian and Jewish Unity –Independent Jewish Voices Montreal Joint Statement: DIVEST FROM SCOTIABANK!


For immediate publication

Montreal, April 18, 2024

Montreal police arrested 45 people after pro-Palestine demonstrators staged a sit-in at the Scotiabank headquarters in downtown Montreal on Monday, April 15. Protesters also targeted the Scotiabank headquarters in Toronto, and in Halifax where 21 protesters were arrested. Demonstrations took place worldwide on Monday, April 15 as part of an international economic blockade in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

In October 2022, Scotiabank’s asset fund put $500 million into the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems Ltd, which amounts to 5% of the company. This also made Scotiabank the largest foreign investor in a company that profits off Palestinian deaths.

According to Who Profits, “Elbit is Israel’s biggest military and arms company. The company has a tightly-knit relationship with the Israeli security apparatus…”. Elbit drones were reportedly in use and Elbit personnel part of the operation room of a special drones unit deployed during Israel’s 11-day onslaught against Gaza in May 2021, which left 248 people dead and over 1,900 injured.

There were already attempts to hold Scotiabank to account. At the annual shareholders meeting in April 2023, the group Eko presented a petition with 12,000 signatories calling on them to divest from the firm and all deadly weapons companies. However, according to reports, Scotiabank did not respond directly to questions about Elbit at the meeting, and a bank representative “characterized all fund decisions as being driven by ‘the interests of shareholders’.”

Scotiabank fund manager David Fingold was quite blunt in a 2019 interview about how the defense industry in Israel “will remain strong” and further noted:

“The cycle at Elbit is not connected to the state of the economy, but to the state of global arms procurement, and it can be seen that militaries in both Europe and America continue to arm themselves and in particular need upgrades for their old equipment.”

Several banks, including HSBC, and sovereign wealth and pension funds in Australia, Sweden and Norway have already divested from Elbit. They realized that investing in war crimes can never be “socially responsible.” Scotiabank on the other hand steadfastly refuses to divest from Elbit systems whose drones continue to kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Scotia Banks’ investment in Elbit Systems makes them complicit in war crimes against the Palestinian people in particular and Canadians should be demanding that Scotia Bank divest from Elbit Systems now.

The protestors who staged the sit-in at Scotiabank on April 15 were right to demonstrate in favor of Palestinian human rights and against Scotiabank’s complicity in Israeli war crimes and Israel’s current genocide enacted against helpless, innocent Palestinians in Gaza. Still, Scotiabank continues to invest in Elbit systems.

Palestinian and Jewish Unity and Independent Jewish Voices Montreal call on clients of Scotiabank to divest from the bank and for the general public to boycott Scotiabank. As was the case in the campaign against apartheid in South Africa, it is at that point that banks and corporations profiting from investments in apartheid Israel face divestment and boycott, that they will divest from apartheid Israel and its criminal regime in Tel Aviv. Investments in Scotiabank mean investments in Elbit which translates to investments in apartheid and genocide. DIVEST FROM SCOTIABANK!





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