Action Alert:

Gov. Patrick’s Troubling “Innovation Partnership Mission” to Israel

June 11, 2014

The Honorable Deval Patrick
Office of the Governor
State House, Room 360
Boston, MA 02133

re: “Innovation Partnership Mission” 05/27/14 – 06/04/14

Dear Governor Patrick,

Your recently concluded trade mission was promoted as a means to cultivate “a very, very fruitful relationship,” one that has brought thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to Massachusetts.   Unfortunately, it is a relationship that also threatens to involve our state closely with a military-industrial-academic complex in Israel that much of the rest of the world finds very troubling.

For example, one highlight among the recently concluded deals was a Needham software firm’s partnership with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.  You should know that Technion’s researchers helped to develop the armored, remote-controlled Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer, used by Israel to demolish hundreds of Palestinian houses.  Technion helped develop the surveillance and attack drones that have killed scores of civilians in the Occupied Territories. Technion has also worked closely with contractor Rafael Advanced Systems, an Israeli manufacturer that promises “to supply its customers with lethal, highly effective state-of-the-art solutions.”  Some of these were used during the 2008-09 war on Gaza, in which the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths was 100 to 1.

In Tel Aviv, you hailed the Global Water Innovation Network (Global WIN) as “a new initiative founded by Massachusetts and Israel.”  For all its hyped “innovations,” Israel’s water industry leaves 1.6 million Palestinians without regular access to clean water and diverts almost 90% of the water from West Bank aquifers to Israel.  Does Massachusetts want to emulate or profit from such exploitation?

At the same time that your trade delegation was signing an agreement for academics from Tel Aviv University and MIT to work together, Israel was refusing to let 59 academics from Gaza travel to Ramallah for a scientific conference, according to a Ma’an News Agency report.  And Israel’s restrictive entry and residency requirements for foreign scholars seeking to teach in the Occupied Territories are well documented.

There have been times – Darfur in 2007, Burma in 1996, Northern Ireland in 1983 – when Massachusetts proudly set moral standards for foreign trade and investments.  Perhaps the noblest moment came in 1982, when the Legislature – overriding Governor King’s veto – made Massachusetts the first state in the nation to divest from South Africa.  The undersigned (and many others we know) hope that such analogies, even if imperfect, might temper your enthusiastic rush to link the fortunes of Massachusetts to a foreign economy with so many questionable, even destructive, practices.

Sincerely,

Jeff Klein*
123 Cushing Ave.
Dorchester, MA 02125
617-288-4578

Carol Coakley*
50 Bridge St.
Millis, MA 02054
508-376-8495

Thomas Abowd
Medford

Dr. Pat Salomon*
10 Sylvan Rd.
Monterey, MA 01245
413-644-8833

Angelica Harter
Cambridge

Munir Jirmanus
Medford

Noble Larson
Arlington

Susan Massad
Framingham

Eva S. Mosely*
Cambridge

Susan T. Nicholson
Gloucester

Naila Saba
Medford

Pat Westwater-Jong
Bolton

Abby Yanow
Watertown

David Zackon
Wakefield

*These signers are on the board of Massachusetts Peace Action and — along with the others — are members of MAPA’s Palestine/Israel Working Group.