Connecticut media outlets ignored widespread demonstrations for ending the apartheid of the Palestinian people. This was due in no small part to Connecticut’s arms industries and the lucrative contracts they have with the state of Israel.
by Stanley Heller
On May 15, over a thousand people rallied in Hartford for Palestinian human rights. They took to the streets and marched from the Federal Building to the State Capitol to listen to speakers. A week later in New Haven, there was an even bigger crowd. The protesters rented a truck to carry large Palestinian flags, signs, and sound equipment. There were hundreds of signs and banners. These marchers, too, poured into the streets, several times sitting down at intersections near Yale. Their efforts went on for three hours. Other protests took place in Stamford and two other cities. Yet, the Connecticut corporate media covered none of this.
“As a concerned group of Jewish Yalies, we call upon our peers to speak out against the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people supposedly on our behalf and in the name of our faith. …We implore the American Jewish establishment to stop conflating Jewish identity with the state of Israel.
“We also direct our demand toward the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, a place where most of us have felt unwelcome since noting its display of the Israeli flag on Wall Street [New Haven]. We unequivocally reject its culture of silence around Palestine.”
The letter also affirmed support for BDS.
The only action the Connecticut corporate media noted was the May 19 demonstration calling out President Biden in New London when he spoke at the Coast Guard Academy. Protesters held signs denouncing Biden’s wall-to-wall support for the Israeli government.
It’s not that the story of Israelis and Palestinians is not in the international news. In May, two hundred sixty Palestinians were killed. 15 families were wiped out with three generations gone. Ten Israelis and two Thai workers were killed via rockets sent by Palestinians. Tens of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes. Mobs of Jewish and Palestinian citizens attacked each other. On May 18, a general strike of Palestinians that extended from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea was effective with hundreds of thousands taking part.
It’s not that Connecticut isn’t involved in what goes on in the area. Connecticut teacher and state employee pension funds have at least $85 million in State of Israel Bonds as well as other Israeli stocks and currency. The nutmeg state’s military companies do at least $26 million in business with Israel (as of 2015). Pratt and Whitney engines power Israeli F-16 aircraft, planes that savaged Gaza in May.
Then there’s the matter of Sturm Ruger. The Sturm Ruger company of Fairfield is the biggest gunmaker in the United States. It sells Israel .22 caliber rifles, which its military uses for “crowd control”. Their soldiers literally shoot lead bullets at protesters to break up demonstrations. They shoot demonstration leaders (which the Israel Defense Force calls “inciters”) or just randomly. They have a curious way of justifying this brutal practice. They say the Ruger is “less lethal” than other firearms and so it’s proper. By that logic, a mugger punching someone in the head is justified because it’s “less lethal” than being hit with a 2’X 4’.
Generally, Rugers are less lethal than other military rifles. They do kill, but more often the .22 bullets wound. This is not as nice as it sounds. Sometimes the wounds are gruesome and cause permanent damage to victims. In the Gaza Strip, these wounds are so prevalent they have a special race only for amputees.
A coalition of over 20 organizations has formed to try to put a stop to this. [Note: two groups I work for are part of the coalition.] The coalition’s research, using mostly Israeli sources, has documented at least 32 killed and 240 wounded by Rugers. That’s just what can be easily documented. The coalition believes the true number is far higher. To break up the Great March of Return, Israeli soldiers (2018-2019) shot dead over 200 and injured 36,000. Likely thousands of those injuries were from Rugers.
Ruger executives refuse to speak to the coalition. To knowingly or recklessly participate in hurting a large number of civilians is to be part of crimes against humanity. The coalition has repeatedly written to Ruger telling them that corporate officers may be in legal jeopardy and that possible fines could harm the corporate bottom line. If these matters are of concern to Ruger management, they show no sign of it. An attempt has been made to reach the Board of Selectmen of Fairfield. Letters have been written to town officials to ask them to contact Sturm Ruger to have them account for the extent of weapons and bullets it has shipped to Israel, to ask if Sturm Ruger monitors whether its weapons are being used recklessly or illegally, and to call for the company to stop selling weapons to Israel. Certainly, political leaders have a responsibility to know if corporations based in the town are engaged in unethical or criminal activity. So far, the Board has not taken any action regarding Ruger. A coalition letter from September 8, 2021 concluded with this statement: “Fairfield justifiably prides itself on its homes, its schools and parks. It should not become infamous because its civic leaders take tax money from Ruger and say nothing about its activities.”