Chants echoed across the mountaintops on Friday morning as around 25 pro-Palestinian demonstrators showed up at Lockheed Martin Space System’s Bonny Doon facility to call for a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict.
Protestors stood outside the gates of the facility and lined the road leading up to it, yelling chants of solidarity with the people of Palestinians into a bullhorn.
Yulia Gilich, one of the organizers, said demonstrators were there to protest Lockheed Martin for profiting off the conflict.
“Lockheed Martin is an arms manufacturer and those are arms that are sold to Israel to kill and bomb Palestinian people. So Lockheed Martin is a war profiteer that is making money off of the genocide of the Palestinian people,” Gilich said.
The facility at the top of Empire Grade is owned by Lockheed Martin Corporation, an aerospace, arms, defense, information security and technology corporation and has operated the site for decades.
The company has ongoing contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense. In September of this year, Lockheed Martin signed a contract for over $800 million with the U.S. Navy, according to defense.gov. The Israeli government is also a client of Lockheed Martin, with the Israeli Air Force being the first to acquire its fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet.
Now in its second month, the conflict began on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants launched an attack on settlements in Southern Israel, killing 1,400 people. In response, Israel declared a goal of eradicating Hamas, and since has bombed the Gaza strip and killed over 11,000 people, according to the Associated Press.
Demonstrators at the Bonny Doon facility want the Santa Cruz community to know that Lockheed Martin has a presence in the county.
“Lockheed doesn’t make fridges, they make weapons,” said Michael Gasser, one of the protestors.
At one point, protesters began chanting “From The River To The Sea, Palestine Will Be Free.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the chant is an antisemitic slogan calling for the destruction of the Israeli state and the killing of Jews. Earlier this week, Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib was censured in Congress for using the slogan, as Jewish lawmakers called for her to face consequences for “hate speech.” Tlaib is Palestinian and has shown support for the people of Gaza.
“I think it’s a wrong interpretation,” said Gilich, who is a Jewish Israeli. “People are seeking antisemitism where it doesn’t exist. [It] means that we want the Palestinian people to be free from Gaza, to Israel proper, to the West Bank. That chant does not imply any violence against Jewish people, Jewish Israelis.”
80-year-old Joyphil Greenleaf showed up to the protest holding a sign reading “Ceasefire- Jewish Voice for Peace.” She said that she and other Jewish grandmothers are begging for the killing to end.
“I care about all the children,” Greenleaf said. “Bombing needs to stop.”
A spokesperson for Lockheed Martin said that the company respects the right to protest and stands by its partnership with the U.S. military.
“Lockheed Martin’s core values are to do what’s right, respect others and perform with excellence. These values provide clear, unambiguous and uncompromising standards for how we treat each other with understanding and compassion. We respect the right to peaceful protest and we are honored to partner with the U.S. military and our international partners to deliver strategic deterrence and security solutions.”