Russell Brand urges Israel boycott
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Russell Brand urges Israel boycott

British comedian calls on banks and investment companies to cut ties with businesses in the Jewish state; starts online petition

Yifa Yaakov is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

British comedian and actor Russell Brand has added his voice to those calling for a boycott of Israel in the wake of its month-long Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip — but has gone a step further, urging banks and pension funds to sever investment ties with Israel and introducing an online campaign to pressure top firms to withdraw their investments in projects that “finance illegal settlements.”

In the latest episode of his online show “The Trews,” Brand singles out UK bank Barclays — albeit with a pinch of humor — for managing the portfolios of Elbit, an Israeli defense electronics company that, in Brand’s words, “make the drones that bomb Gaza.”

Accusing Barclays of “scurrilous financial duplicity,” Brand mocks a “lovely, affable” ad by the bank advertising a free service to help elderly customers use the internet, which he says “sneakily” masks the somewhat less affable reality of the bank’s investments in Israeli drones “to bomb dispossessed people in the Middle East.”

He then introduces a petition on online campaigning site Avaaz — which has gained over 1,666,000 signatures so far — to “aggravate” Barclays “and several other companies to withdraw their financial involvement with companies that support and facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza.”

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