The US government’s complicity in the Israeli siege of Gaza is no secret. Israel has the eleventh largest military in the world, which is in large part due to US military aid of over $3 billion annually. What remains in the shadows, however, is the alarming extent to which United States corporations profit from the Israeli war machine.
A prime example is Honeywell International Inc. Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, a Canadian group, has documented a long-lasting and profitable economic relationship between Honeywell and the Israeli military, with many of their collaborations traceable directly to war crimes committed by the IDF. The 2010 attack in the waters outside Gaza against the “Freedom Flotilla,” in which 9 activists were killed in an attempt to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza through the Israeli blockade, was perpetrated by a Sa’ar V Corvette, built by another US company, Northrop-Grumman. Yet that ship was armed by Honeywell-built torpedoes.
This relationship, in which Honeywell profits from some component of weapons production without appearing to be prominently involved, appears frequently. Take Israel’s M270 MLRS missile system, produced by Lockheed Martin and Israeli Military Industries (IMI). Honeywell produces Jet Reaction Control and Trajectory Correction Systems critical to the M270, which it notes can be “retrofitted into unguided artillery rockets for improved precision.” In the same promotional flier, the company describes its Jet Reaction Controls as providing “unmatched agility, maneuverability, and end-game lethality to tactical missiles and precision-guided munitions.”
The “behind the scenes” involvement in military industry that seems to be Honeywell’s preference is perhaps best captured in a video that the company has posted on youtube, which begins with an image of an MQ-9 Reaper (or “Predator B”) Drone, produced by General Atomics. The Reaper is implicated in thousands of illegal civilian deaths at the hands of the US government, primarily in Pakistan and Yemen. As the video continues, the drone is vivisected to expose the TPE-331 engine that provides its propulsion – this engine is a Honeywell product, as the video is clearly intended to demonstrate.
In fact, Honeywell engines have found their way into Israeli military hands on what might be a surprising number of occasions. Honeywell cooperates closely with Bedek Aviation Group, which provides maintenance services for Honeywell’s T53 airplane engine. Bedek is a subsidiary of Israeli Aerospace Industries, a company owned in part by the Israeli government that, as of 2010, was Israel’s second largest weapons manufacturer. In 2012, Honeywell signed a contract worth $735 million to supply their F124 engine for the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s (IMOD) new fleet of 30 M-346 training aircraft. As noted in the Honeywell press release, “The F124 produces over 6,000 pounds of thrust for high acceleration in high-speed training environment and to simulate the widest possible range of modern fighter aircraft.” This deal manifests deep linkages between Honeywell, the Israeli defense industry, and war profiteers worldwide; Honeywell signed it as part of the International Turbine Engine Company LLC, a joint venture with the Chinese company Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation. The other parties to the deal were the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMOD) and TOR (an acronym for the Hebrew words for “Advanced Flight Training”), a joint venture between the major Israeli military contractors Elbit Systems and Israeli Aerospace Industries.
Honeywell is no stranger to the industry of morally reprehensible weapons production. From 1968 until the early 1990s, the Honeywell Project existed to oppose the company’s production of cluster bombs, illegal under international law, for use in Vietnam. The Project also spoke out against Honeywell’s production of guidance systems for military aircraft and nuclear weapons. The project continued its work until 1990, when Honeywell spun off much of its weapons production activity into a new company: Alliant Techsystems.
Yet through its involvement in the deadly US drone war, nuclear weapons production and close ties with Israeli weapons industry, Honeywell clearly continues to merit the label “war profiteer.” And it continues to use lobbying money to sway US policy to promote these war profiteering efforts, with an average of $7 million per year in federal lobbying efforts aimed at targets such as the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration and members of the House Armed Services Committee and the Unmanned Systems Caucus (i.e. the “drone caucus“).
Unlike many war profiteers, Honeywell has a special vulnerability: its extensive line of consumer products. Available on Amazon and at stores like Home Depot and Walmart, Honeywell’s products include thermostats, space heaters, humidifiers, work boots, alarm systems . . . the list goes on. Now a new campaign to Boycott and Divest Honeywell seeks to pick up where the Honeywell Project left off. While it will incorporate Honeywell Project’s techniques of educational campaigns, demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience, the new campaign will also seek to wield the economic tools of boycott and divestment. Given the profits that are fundamentally driving Honeywell in its efforts to fashion the tools of imperialism and terror, these tools may prove most effective of all in changing the company’s calculus. Campaign co-director Chelsea Faria, a graduate student at Yale Divinity School, states that the campaign is intended as a long-term, nationwide effort:
The more I learned about Honeywell’s consumer products, the more I noticed them around me in my daily life.” Faria said. “There is great potential here to oppose war profiteering by ceasing to purchase Honeywell products and by encouraging businesses to do the same. The war machine won’t lose any momentum unless we begin aligning our actions with our values in large numbers.
The campaign’s initial demand, put forward in a statement made earlier this year to CEO David M. Cote at the yearly stockholder’s meeting, as well as in a Call to Boycott/Divest that can be found at Badhoneywell.org, is for Honeywell to disengage from all business related to weaponized and surveillance drones. Yet Badhoneywell will also work to draw awareness and censure to the company’s many other ethically questionable dealings, its involvement with Israel and its complicity in global climate change and other forms of environmental degradation. The list is extensive both in breadth and the magnitude of negative impact. Indeed, in Honeywell International, Inc. the Badhoneywell campaign sees a powerful exemplar of the way in which the corruption of American democracy has allowed the wealthy and privileged via extensive lobbying to subvert American institutions and the interests of the vast majority of the Earth’s people in the service of obscene profit.