Another Reason to Resist Amazon

Another Reason to Resist Amazon

Created in collaboration between booksellers Wulfe, Danny, and Chris

Many of you came to follow the Raven because of our staunch local business advocacy and anti-Amazon stance. If you’ve read store majority owner Danny Caine’s book How to Resist Amazon and Why, you’ve learned about how Amazon is selling your data, creating technology to aid police force surveillance, undermining authors, putting their employees at physical risk of injury without reasonable compensation, violating embargoes and selling books for ridiculously low costs to knock competitors (read: us) entirely out of the market, and more.

We’ve got yet another reason for you to resist Amazon: Their support of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and the murder of innocent Palestinians.

This brings us to a conversation about BDS and why they’ve pinpointed Amazon as a company to boycott.

Perhaps you began to learn more about the BDS movement due to your heightened awareness of the Israeli government’s continued occupation and violence against Palestinian people; perhaps you have been actively heeding the call to action for years. Or maybe the idea of BDS is completely new to you—so let’s talk about this global movement for Palestinian liberation and why they are calling for a consumer boycott of Amazon.

“BDS” stands for “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” and, according to their website, they are a “Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice, and equality… BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.” Among other vital projects, the organizers of BDS maintain lists of companies and organizations that are operating in Occupied Palestine or that are financially tied to the government and military of Israel. Since 2005, they have provided this information with clear calls to action to the global public so that we may boycott these groups; demand that our companies, universities, and more divest funds from Israel; and enforce sanctions on our governments so they do not assist illegal Israeli settlements.

(Of course, this is a vast oversimplification of the work of BDS, which arose from years of Palestinian resistance dating back to 1948. We encourage you to spend some time on their website to understand the entire scope of this project and their three primary demands.)

Amazon is, unsurprisingly, on the BDS list due to its complicity in the atrocities occurring in Occupied Palestine.

They began operating in Israel in 2014, a year that saw hundreds of Palestinian casualties at the hands of the IDF, or Israeli Defense Forces. According to the Washington Post, “Amazon and Google jointly won Israel’s Project Nimbus cloud computing contract in April 2021.” Project Nimbus is a $1.2 billion contract that, per a 2021 article from The Nation, means Amazon and Google “provide a cloud services “ecosystem” for the Israeli public sector, for which the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) will be the primary beneficiary… Amazon’s cloud service will also assist in Israel’s expanding settlement enterprise by supporting data for the Israel Land Authority (ILA), the government agency that manages and allocates state land.” The ILA, in turn, has furthered the project of expelling Palestinians from their ancestral homes.

In response to 2021’s Project Nimbus, The Guardian published a letter from anonymous Google and Amazon employees calling for an end to Project Nimbus and their companies to “cut all ties with the Israeli military.” They explain that Project Nimbus exists to “sell dangerous technology to the Israeli military and government. This contract was signed the same week that the Israeli military attacked Palestinians in the Gaza Strip—killing nearly 250 people, including more than 60 children. The technology our companies have contracted to build will make the systematic discrimination and displacement carried out by the Israeli military and government even crueler and deadlier for Palestinians.

As the Washington Post reported in their piece from December of 2023, “At the time, 300 Amazon employees signed the anti-Nimbus letter. Two years later, that number has grown to more than five times.” The No Tech for Apartheid collective first arose in response to Project Nimbus, declaring, “Amazon and Google’s collaboration with Israeli apartheid is part of a larger pattern of Big Tech fueling state violence across the globe.” They remain active today, decrying tech’s role in the ethnic cleansing we’re currently seeing unfold on our phones.

Yet, Amazon has not listened to the numerous employee and consumer calls for them to divest from Israel. Multiple news sources including Reuters reported in August of 2023 that Amazon planned to “invest about $7.2 billion through 2037 in Israel, and launched its Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers in the country.”

It’s no secret that we at the Raven are against everything Amazon stands for, from their monopolistic policies to their life-threatening treatment of employees. This is a burning flame of resistance that many independent bookstores throughout the world have carried for a long time, and the Raven has been deeply moved again and again to see how many of you have joined the cause in the last few years. Together, we’ve learned what it means to resist the impacts of a multinational corporation on our people and communities.

We want to see a ceasefire now in Gaza and an end to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. There are numerous actions you can take alongside us to support a Free Palestine, such as calling your representatives, donating to organizations like the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, connecting with the extraordinary work of Jewish Voice for Peace, or participating in the “Hands off Rafah!” global day of action on March 2, 2024, in Lawrence or Kansas City. If you’ve joined us in resisting Amazon, you are already one step closer to helping end the apartheid. If you’ve started learning about the politics of boycotting through discussions of supporting local businesses, why not set your sights even higher? Why not learn about the BDS movement and how your practices as a consumer have global effects?