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5% of Boeing stock holders vote for resolution challenging arms sales to Israel

By staff

Chicago, IL – The Boeing Company held its annual stockholders meeting in Chicago, May 2. Members of the Anti-War Committee-Chicago (AWC) had submitted a resolution calling for the corporation to prepare a report detailing its arms sales to Israel.

When the votes were counted, the board of directors reported that 5% of their stockholders voted in favor of the resolution. The directors had stated that 88% of the stockholders had cast votes.

According to the AWC, most people have no idea that Boeing is a major weapons contractor. “If the public knew how many weapons were being provided to the Israeli military for its wars on Gaza, opposition to the weapons sales would grow,” said Kait McIntyre of AWC.

Israel recently completed their largest arms deal with the U.S., to purchase almost $2 billion in ordnance. Boeing manufactures most of the components of these bombs and missiles, including the guidance systems that turn regular bombs into ‘smart bombs.’ A report by Amnesty International – UK showed that the bombings which caused the most casualties in Gaza came from Boeing’s laser guided, one-ton bombs, the MK-84/GBU-31. Israel is purchasing 10,000 of these smart bomb kits.

AWC has been active in solidarity with Palestine since it started in 2012. In 2014, three members of AWC, McIntyre, Newland Smith and Joe Iosbaker were among those arrested at Boeing Headquarters in Chicago during Operation Protective Edge.

“Boeing also makes the Apache helicopters and F-15 fighter jets used by the Israeli air force. We were arrested demanding an end to all weapons sales to Israel,” said McIntyre.

In the past several years, members of the AWC purchased shares in the Boeing Company in order to bring a resolution before the stockholders. They joined together with the Interfaith Council on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). Sister Gwen Farry of ICCR and the 8th Day Center for Justice spoke in favor of the resolution during the company meeting.

At the May 2 board meeting, AWC was also joined by a group of indigenous Lumad activists from the Philippines. In their traditional lands on the island of Mindanao, the Lumad people have also been victimized by the U.S. ‘war on terror.’ Boeing produces drones called Scan Eagles which have been used in targeted assassinations there.

When the AWC resolution was first submitted to Boeing, the board of directors refused to accept it. According to Richard Berg, who submitted the resolution, “The Boeing board refused to submit our resolution to the stockholders, saying it interfered with the regular business of the company.”

On Feb. 5 the Securities and Exchange Commission overruled the directors. McIntyre explained that the Boeing board continued to oppose the resolution. “Boeing then said this sale is controversial to a small number of individual shareholders. This is more evidence of the growing impact of the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel.”

The company has a threshold for shareholder activism. To continue to press an issue, a resolution must achieve 3% of the votes. Newland Smith said, “With 5%, we can continue to press this issue next year. By then, we hope to reach the next threshold, which is 6%.”

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