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Apple under fire for matching employee donations to IDF and illegal settlements

June 12, 2024 at 3:52 pm

An aerial view of Apple Park in Cupertino, California, United States on March 23, 2024 [Tayfun Coşkun – Anadolu Agency]

Apple is facing criticism from a group of self-described workers, former employees and shareholders who are calling on the tech giant to halt donations to non-profit organisations linked to Israel’s military onslaught on the Palestinians in Gaza and its ongoing illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. Details of the row between Apple and staff were revealed by The Intercept. In an open letter, the group, known as Apples4Ceasefire, has demanded that the company should “promptly investigate and cease matching donations to all organisations that further illegal settlements in occupied territories and support the IDF [Israel Defence Forces].”

The controversy stems from Apple’s employee donation-matching programme, which allows workers to make contributions to various non-profit organisations and receive matching funds from the company through a platform called Benevity. Among the charities Apple’s controversial platform allows funds to be sent to are Friends of the IDF, which collects donations on behalf of Israeli occupation soldiers, and several groups that contribute to the settlement enterprise in the West Bank, such as HaYovel, One Israel Fund, the Jewish National Fund and IsraelGives.

The open letter, with 133 signatories, follows broader activism at tech companies by workers objecting to complicity between their employers and the ongoing Israeli military assault on Gaza in which more than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of them children and women. The provision of donations to NGOs facilitating the illegal occupation of the West Bank has come under increasing scrutiny as the situation in the region has deteriorated since 7 October last year. The Israeli offensive has resulted in war crimes and a charge of genocide.

Apple’s corporate commitment to respecting internationally recognised human rights frameworks, including the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has been called into question in light of these revelations. The UN Human Rights Office has repeatedly decried atrocities committed by the IDF since the war began. Israel is also under investigation for genocide by the International Court of Justice while the International Criminal Court is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli leaders.

Israel’s campaign in Gaza has sparked global protests, with major firms like McDonald’s and Starbucks facing boycotts over their alleged support for the apartheid state. Apple now risks being added to the list of companies targeted by the boycott movement if it fails to address the concerns raised by its employees and shareholders regarding its donation matching policy.

As pressure mounts on corporations to ensure their contributions do not fund illegal activities or human rights abuses, Apple will be expected to take swift action to investigate and potentially cease matching donations to organisations linked to the Israeli military and illegal settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

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