The situation in Sheikh Jarrah is secret to none. Civilians murdered in cold blood, families evicted from their life-long homes, and airstrikes on Media and medical centres that would make the hardest of hearts shiver. 

The World has seen an onslaught like none other in recent times. And it’s important we begin speaking about it by defining terms correctly:

The Israeli-Palestinian “conflict”, as some have put it, is hardly a conflict. It is apartheid

Why is the situation in Palestine and, more particularly, the West Bank so dire?

In May 2021, corresponding with the sacred month of Ramadan for Muslims, families from the Jerusalem-suburb of Sheikh Jarrah were ordered to leave their homes for Jewish settlers – resulting in the mass displacement of no less than five hundred Palestinians. Israeli settlers came in large numbers, and more and more Palestinians were told to leave their homes by the 30th of May, directly contravening their right to the land.

Placed under strict restrictions limiting the movement of people, the Palestinians marched past the Israeli forces towards the sanctuary of Masjid al-Aqsa. Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is also the third-most holiest site in Islam, was then raided by IDF soldiers, that viewed any worshipper or Arabic-speaker as a threat, and met them with tear gas, batons and overall brutality. The “security forces”, as you can probably gather, weren’t so focused on security. 

The residents of Jerusalem, in the pales of brutality, called for help from the Palestinian residents in Gaza city. The Gazans replied with force – distracting the Israeli police and applying pressure to the Israeli government to stop the tyranny in East Jerusalem, especially Sheikh Jarrah.

That served as a catalyst to a brutal exchange of missiles and airstrikes – although most from the Palestinian militant side were anticipated by the ‘Iron Dome’ defence system of the Israeli military. The ‘conflict’ raised eyebrows in the international community and forced World leaders from to speak out against the oppression and collateral damage.

Whilst the IDF cried “Hamas!” and “Iran!” in frantic bursts of trying to reclaim public opinion, the Palestinian militants – largely under-equipped civilians doing all they can to resist the occupation, did not give in to the barrage of rocket attacks from Israeli forces.

The rockets hurled towards the Occupied West Bank were no pieces of cotton candy. The missiles both heavily advanced and powerful and, according to some, the most destructive in the World, did not discriminate. 

“I was getting ready to die. I had to be at peace with it,” Najla Shawa, a Palestinian humanitarian worker and mother of two, told the BBC.

Describing previous air strikes over the weekend, she said: “People we know [were killed], people we work with… ordinary people, professional people, young and old.”

Meanwhile the defenders of Palestinian land kept resisting, only days after the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and despite meeting heavy damages to both human capital and infrastructure. 

A spectacle for the world – an under armed group of civilians for one of the first times in recent history standing toe to toe with one of the military and economic giants of today – in pure defiance to the fear the Israeli airstrikes tried to evoke. 

After much deliberation and 11-days of brutality, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly announced a “mutual and unconditional” ceasefire after a late-night meeting of his Security Cabinet. The group is alleged to have unanimously accepted a proposal from Egypt to end fighting. This paved the way to both a physical, moral and public-opinion victory (through astounding support on social media) for the Palestinian cause. 

Many news organisations covered the Israeli brutality, including the BBC, ABC, the New York Times, the Guardian and a plethora of other agencies. Interestingly, they all largely agreed that the Palestinian casualties from the encounters significantly outweighed those of the Israeli settlers, speaking to the gross power difference between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli military.

Despite the restrictions of the COVID 19 pandemic in most countries, and the avid support of tyranny through weapons and arms deals like that done by President Joe Biden on behalf of the US, the masses had come out protesting the Israeli occupation and demanding the war crimes be called for what they were – acts of terrorism in direct contradiction to international law, pushed by an extremist and autocratic military force. 

The force would use any and all means to get what they wanted – which, briefly, can be summarised in furthering an apartheid state, as put by the Human Rights Watch.

Why is a super fund talking about this issue?

The funds in which we choose to invest our super are dramatic in the consequences they entail. Some funds, for instance, invest your money into the weapons industry, thus tying your financial assets to furthering potential geo-political policies and procedures in certain regions.

Here’s what Crescent Wealth Managing Director Talal Yassine had to say about Super and the Weapons industry:

“We need to divest from weapons. Why? Because knowingly or unknowingly, you are supporting the weapons industry through your super money.”

“It’s a fact not many people link however super funds essentially invest your super money on your behalf.”

The issue isn’t limited to the weapons industry – many Super funds invest into companies that also proliferate products that are at odds with Islamic values. 

“In all areas, in Banks like CBA or NAB, insurance companies like QBE, Suncorp, they also invest in companies like Woolworths – who not only sell basic food and household items but also own multiple alcohol brands, and l hundreds of pubs that not only serve alcohol but are also some of the largest operators of poker machines in Australia.”

Talal went on to describe the extent of our investment and how it can (and often does) get channeled into the weapons industry.

“…we have the weapons industry that is very important to our discussions today. What if I told you the money in your superannuation is invested in companies that manufacture, trade and profit from war.  It’s not difficult for us to acknowledge the ongoing wars in the Middle East where the deaths are mostly of our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

Awareness is the key 

“Not only do wars and create death and destruction – it also sadly displaces people from their homes, creating the worldwide refugee problems we face today.”

In 2019 alone a full 1% of the world’s population was displaced as a result of conflict.

“We spend millions of dollars of our personal wealth whether it be zakat or sadaqah supporting our displaced brothers and sisters, but have we ever considered how else our wealth is funding their situation?”

“Its time to understand and accept that for the most part super funds have no moral, ethical or religious filters.”

Talal brings to light a scary realisation. Many of us that work and contribute to superfunds often overlook the particulars about the destination of our wealth. We expect, often subconsciously, that financial companies have defining morals that guide their decisions. 

But the reality, as Talal Yassine put it, is that the ethical filter is barely present, if ever. 

“For them it’s how to they gain the best return for their members- This means they don’t consider what the impacts of those investments have on human lives.”

“We need to speak up, educate our community and stop the money tap from our super funds to industries that cause harm and destruction. Especially when that harm and destruction is being focused on our Muslim brothers and sister.”

The scale of weapons investment in Australia is quite large. Talal explained,

“We took a sample look in March 2021 at the biggest super fund in Australia: Australian Super.

Of the $122 Billion that is invested in Australian Super’s balanced option; $934 Million is invested in weapons stock. This is 0.76% of its investments are invested directly into the weapons industry. 

If we take this a step further to spotlight the potential size of this problematic investment across the super industry, of the 0.76% across the $3tril industry we’re looking at a $22.8 BILLION investment.”

This is not an excusable amount. Billions are being invested into the weapons industry with most people being none the wiser.

“So my challenge today”, Talal continued, “is for you to call your super fund and ask them if they invest in these companies:  Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman. If it is a yes, then know these companies are weapons producers.”

Since the 20th Century, 123 million deaths have been recorded. That is 123 million too many.

Our religion teaches us If anyone kills a person, it would be as if he killed all of humanity: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of humanity.”(Chapter 5:32 Surah Al-Ma’idah)

Close to 1 million people have been killed by direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan. 

These numbers don’t take into consideration the number of people who have been wounded or have ongoing illnesses – these numbers are in the millions. 

The question arises: How can we counter these clear instances of global atrocities? How can we prevent occupations and evictions like the one most recently in East Jerusalem from happening again? How can we ensure the safety of civilians – Arab or non-Arab – from the extremism we witnessed in military brutality with the escalating death toll?

One of the most primary steps we can take is towards the removal of the existential threat that is posed by, and weaponised for political gain, by the nuclear industry.

One of the gravest threats to humanity comes from nuclear weapons. Just one warhead can kill hundreds of thousands of people, with major inter-generational damage and environmental contamination. Several nuclear explosions over modern cities would kill tens of millions of people. 

Israel is one of the 9 countries (Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea) that have nuclear weapons.  

Why? 

There are no legitimate moral or legal reasons for the existence of such weapons esp for a country like Israel – which has a terrible track record in military violence against Palestinian families, most specifically in the Gaza strip and in and around the al-Aqsa mosque.

If anyone shouldn’t be near nuclear weaponry, it’s the Israeli military that is leading the systemic ethnic cleaning within Occupied Palestinian Territories.

In another hadith which is mentioned in the collection of Muslim:

Abu Said Al-Khudri said: I heard the messenger of Allah (pbuh) say: “Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest of faith.

Change is possible.

Simply put, by reducing the amount of weaponry in our arsenals and homes, we can help create a better world for all to enjoy. We will never be able to end all arms production, but individually and collectively, by making the right personal investment decisions, we can help the world move in the direction of peace. This is where the power of Islamic Investing comes in.

Given that wars are destructive to wealth as well as human lives, promoting peace by divesting from weapons manufacture offers another way forward for safer investing offering good returns.

What can YOU do to make a real, tangible impact in the Super/weapons investment decision?

  1. Divest from companies that are profiting from deaths and destruction. How? Switch your super to a fund like Crescent Wealth that has no investments in weapons. This is a is a simple yet powerful step we can take to make a real difference.
  2. Educate yourself. Superannuation is your money, it’s money you earn and control. We need to start looking at our super money like money we have saved in our bank accounts and educate our community that super funds do invest in industries that harm our people.  The weapon’s industry is one industry we’ve spoken about heavily tonight, but it doesn’t stop there; Super funds also invest in the alcohol, gambling and tobacco industries. So we need to take a closer look at how our retirement wealth is built.
  3. Call you super fund and ask them if they invest in these companies:  Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman. If it is a yes, then know these companies are weapons producers. Then ask yourself if you are comfortable with that investment in your name.

We need to have these difficult conversations and share the information with our community, to raise awareness and ultimately stop the financial support out of this deadly industry and put pressure on all super funds to stop investing in these companies. These are a practical and direct way to stand up for humanity and make change happen. 

Quick stats 

-In 2020, global arms expenditure was approximately $2 trillion. The wars that weapons help cause are incredibly expensive and destructive of human wealth.  A civil war, for instance, costs a medium-sized developing country the equivalent of 30 years of GDP growth, and it can take 20 years for trade levels to return to pre-war levels. 

-Scale of weapons investment – Australian Super Example (undertaken March 2021):

  • $122 Billion that is invested in Australian Super’s balanced option; 
  • $934 Million is invested in weapons stock. This is 0.76% of its investments are invested directly into the weapons industry. 
  • 0.76% across the $3tril super industry we’re looking at a $22.8 BILLION investment. 

– Recent Israeli government weapon upgrades & new purchases from Boeing contribute to the asymmetrical assault against the Palestinians with no army: i.e Israel to purchase KC-46 from Boeing

– The global weapons industry sales in 2018 reached $420 billion USD, that’s 47% higher than in 2002. (This excludes Chinese arms manufacturers due to a lack of data to make a reliable estimate)

– According to the UNHCR Global trend report, at the end of 2019 a mind-blowing 1% of the world’s population had been forcibly displaced due to conflicts, persecution, violence and human rights violations. That’s 79.5 million people, with 40% being children.

– Beyond the physical and mental toll on humans, war and conflict are contributing to the destruction of our planet. If the US military was reclassified as a country, it would rank as the 47th biggest contributor to total greenhouse emissions – and that is only measuring its military fuel use.

– From 2001 to 2017, the US military emitted around 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases – equivalent to putting 257 million new cars on our roads, while the US’s machines of war require 85 million barrels of fuel every year.

– Wars displace people from their homes, creating the worldwide refugee problems we face today. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, in 2019 a full 1% of the world’s population was displaced as a result of conflict, persecution, violence and human rights violations.

– From the outside, it appears the nearly $2 trillion the United States spent on the War in Afghanistan amounted to little if any tangible return. 

And while that is true for the ordinary citizens, it is patently false for the weapons manufacturers and merchants of war who profited off 18 years of conflict. All the major manufacturers are among the biggest winners from that long war: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and many more.

The same can be said for wars in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Libya. Essentially, every major conflict in recent history has seen war-profiteering.

– Australia may not have weapon giants akin to Lockheed Martin and Boeing, but firms like Xtek, Electro Optic Systems and Quickstep Holdings all end up profiting from increased defence budgets and the deployment of Australian troops into overseas conflicts.

Crescent Wealth’s commitment to ethical investments

It has always been Crescent Wealth’s goal to deliver high-quality financial services to members in a manner that conforms to Islamic investment principles. 

A super fund that does not, and will not (God-willing), ever invest into weapons manufacturers. When you invest with us, you can rest assured that your money isn’t going to contribute to and assist in wars that only kill and destroy. 

We don’t need more destruction. We need to build.

With Crescent Wealth’s commitment to ethical investments in light of Islamic values, we act as a strong mechanism towards the de-escalation of difficult global situations that end up affecting us. Together, we can change the status quo. 

Above all, keep the Palestinian families, including the elderly, women and children, in your prayers.

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Specialising in community engagement and digital product growth Nebras has over 15 years’ experience in designing and delivering executable audience growth and content strategies across a range of leading industries and countries. Nebras’s strategies are always focused on return on investments, customer retention and high brand value. He also plays a key role in ensuring research services business intelligence processes and operations are conducted in accordance with all audience measurement guidelines.

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