by Jeff Klein
On December 4 this year, a Palestinian boy, Ali Abu Alia, was shot and killed by Israeli security forces as he watched a protest in his West Bank village of al-Mughayer. Unarmed villagers were demonstrating against the confiscation of their farm lands to benefit nearby illegal Israeli settlements. It was Ali’s 15th birthday.
US military aid to Israel at $3.8 billion or more per year – cumulatively now in the hundreds of billions of dollars – has enabled the purchase of advanced weapons that have killed thousands of Palestinians, especially during repeated attacks on Gaza — as well as like numbers of Lebanese, Egyptians, Jordanians and now Syrians.
But US-supplied weapons have also enabled the murder of Palestinians up-close. Among these is the US exported Ruger 10/22 rifle that was used to kill Ali Abu Alia. These guns are manufactured by Sturm, Ruger & Co. at its facility in Newport, NH. The company’s corporate headquarters are located in Southport, Connecticut.
Israel claims that the Ruger 10/22 rifles, equipped with silencers and telescopic sights, are “less-lethal” weapons because of their small caliber. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says it deploys them as “crowd-control” tools. But in fact these are live-fire guns which have been used to kill numerous Palestinians over the years, including, recently, hundreds of unarmed protesters in the blockaded Gaza strip. Many more Palestinians have been wounded and permanently disabled by the deployment of IDF snipers who used the Ruger rifles to intentionally target protest leaders or activists, especially in the legs.
It’s time to reexamine unconditional US military aid to Israel. Israel’s use of such weaponry is already in violation of US arms-export laws which restrict the use of military aid to proven human-rights violators and limit deployment of US weapons to legitimate self-defense. But these laws are never enforced with respect to countries like Israel that are considered “friendly” to the US. Moreover, the funding for Israel’s military could be much more usefully applied to important needs at home: Covid control and mitigation, more accessible healthcare, housing and education equity.
Two bills filed in the last Congress would begin to make Israel accountable for its use of US military aid and put important conditions on its use (we expect that similar measures will be filed in the new Congress):
H.R.8050 – The Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act, filed this Summer by Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum and now with 11 cosponsors, is the first measure in Congress which declares unequivocally that the US will not recognize or fund Israeli annexation of occupied territory.
H.R.2407 – Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, is an important step in holding Israel accountable for its violations of international law and abuse of US funding.
Both bills deserve the support and cosponsorship from Massachusetts members of Congress. We should pressure our House members to do so – while thanking Rep. Pressley (Boston: 617-850-0040; DC: 202-225-5111) for standing up for justice.
But we shouldn’t have to wait for passage of this legislation. A start would be to insist on the enforcement of already-existing US laws concerning the use of military aid and US weaponry abroad.
And we should demand the immediate halt of sales to the Israeli military of murder weapons like the Ruger 10/22.
Sturm, Ruger & Co. claims that it has no control over the destination or use of its products abroad, but it maintains a distribution dealership in Israel. Not only that, the company advertises its pride in the Israeli use of its rifles.
Ruger claims to abide by a strict code of corporate responsibility:
Ruger has been a model of corporate and community responsibility. Our motto, “Arms Makers for Responsible Citizens®,” echoes our commitment to these principles. . . the Company will continue to be run in a highly ethical manner, which best serves the interests of our shareholders, our employees, and of course, our loyal customers.
Perhaps they should hear from people who wonder whether supplying lethal murder weapons for use against unarmed protesters – to guard stolen land and maintain an illegal occupation – is an example of corporate responsibility. Demand that the Sturm Ruger & Co. condemn the use of their products as IDF murder weapons.
Sturm, Ruger Corporate Headquarters: Lacey Place, Southport, CT 06890. (Fax: 203-256-3367); Newport Manufacturing Facility: 411 Sunapee Street, Newport, NH 03773 (Telephone: 603-863-3300; Fax: 603-863-3253)