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Home   »  Seattle Divest from the Israeli ...


Seattle Divest from the Israeli Occupation


The Seattle divestment campaign is asking the City of Seattle to divest from corporations that sell military equipment to the Israeli army for use in the Occupied Territories.

The Target: Corporations Supporting Occupation
The Seattle divestment campaign stresses that it is not calling for a boycott of all Israeli companies, or of all companies that do business with Israel. Rather it is asking the City of Seattle not to invest its Retirement Pension Funds in companies that sell equipment to Israel’s military occupation. The campaign is focusing on seven such companies:

• Caterpillar, that sells armored bulldozers used to demolish homes and uproot olive trees;
• United Technologies, that makes Blackhawk helicopters that attack Palestinian buildings and civilians;
• General Dynamics, that makes the 20mm guns for F16 jets;
• Boeing, that sells Apache helicopters that kill Palestinian civilians;
• General Electric, that makes engines for Apache helicopters;
• Northrop Grumman, that makes radars and weapons systems;
• Oshkosh Truck Corporation, that makes tactical military trucks.

The Approach: Coalition-Building
The approach of the Seattle group is to create a broad coalition of support by getting other organizations to participate in the campaign. These organizations are asked to pass a resolution supporting divestment, to endorse the campaign, to host informational meetings, to participate in public meetings with officials, to join a letter-writing and phone-in campaign to the City Council and the Mayor, to place ads in the papers, and to demand divestment at Town Halls, on radio shows and at City Council meetings.

The Public Statement: Morality and International Law
The public statement of the Seattle group puts divestment within a framework of morality and international law.


Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace, independence and security. If we want peace and justice in Israel/Palestine, we must support both Israeli and Palestinian claims to statehood and self-determination. We must also penetrate the veil of misinformation that surrounds this conflict, misrepresenting it as a religious war, an ancient conflict, or a battle between two equal sides. It is not an equal battle. One side has power over the other, and has imposed a military occupation for over 35 years. We currently have municipal public funds invested in companies that support that military occupation, and the time has come for that to end.

Since 1967, over three million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have lived in a state of apartheid under Israeli military occupation. Under occupation, Palestinians have no right to vote, no freedom of speech or assembly or movement. They can be arrested and imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial. They are routinely subject to torture in prison. Israeli soldiers and civilians attack and murder them with relative impunity. According to the US State Department’s Country Reports, the Israeli army targets civilians even when soldiers are not in imminent danger. Amnesty International is concerned that the main aim of the Israeli army’s conduct ‘is to collectively punish all Palestinians,’ stressing that the Israeli army has taken actions which amount to war crimes.

No peace talks have offered Palestinians independence. No peace talks have stopped Israel from continuing to build settlements for Israeli citizens inside the Occupied Territories. Several Israeli generals have agreed that these settlements serve no purpose for the defense or security of Israel. As former President Jimmy Carter has observed, this ongoing process of colonizing occupied land for an Israeli population is an egregious and destabilizing obstacle to peace in the region. Our political and financial support of these activities only makes violence inevitable.

The military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is illegal under the UN Charter and 4th Geneva Convention, which not only forbid the acquisition of land by force, but also forbid the occupying power from moving its own population into occupied territories. As parties to the Geneva Convention, both the US and Israel are compelled to ‘respect and ensure respect for’ the Convention. The US therefore has an affirmative duty under international law to see that the illegal occupation ends. Under domestic law also, the US should not be supporting the Israeli occupation. Both the US Foreign Assistance Act and Arms Export Control Act forbid selling weapons or giving financial support to countries that engage in consistent patterns of gross violations of human rights.

The Israeli military occupation, which denies human rights based on ethnicity, is a moral outrage as well. We would not support torture if it occurred in front of us, and conscience demands that we not support it anywhere. We would not support apartheid in South Africa or in the Jim Crow South of our own country, and conscience demands that we not support it when it happens in Israel/Palestine.

Through its Retirement Pension Funds for city employees, the City of Seattle invests in several corporations that sell military equipment to the Israeli army for use in the Occupied Territories. These companies sell equipment used to brutalize and kill people. Our divestment campaign focuses on seven such companies:

• Caterpillar, that sells armored bulldozers used to demolish homes and uproot olive trees;
• United Technologies, that makes Blackhawk helicopters that attack Palestinian buildings and civilians;
• General Dynamics, that makes the 20mm guns for F16 jets;
• Boeing, that sells Apache helicopters that kill Palestinian civilians;
• General Electric, that makes engines for Apache helicopters;
• Northrop Grumman, that makes radars and weapons systems;
• Oshkosh Truck Corporation, that makes tactical military trucks.

We are not calling for a boycott of all Israeli companies, or of all companies that do business with Israel. Our demand is specific: withdraw financial support from companies that sell equipment to Israel’s military occupation, and send a clear signal that Seattle does not support illegal or immoral actions, at home or abroad.

The City of Seattle’s Retirement Pension Fund has only one mandate for investment: fiduciary responsibility. We support that mandate and believe that a fiduciary duty includes ensuring that public funds do not support racism, torture or apartheid. The Israeli Occupation is both illegal and immoral, and we call on the City of Seattle not to use public funds to support acts that shock the conscience.

Divestment form Israeli apartheid is not only a moral imperative. It is an opportunity. It is one of many ways we must demand a future built on justice and peace, not only for the peoples of the Middle East but for ourselves as well.


Contact Information
For more information about the campaign, contact the Palestine Solidarity Committee at palestinejustice@aol.com; tel 206 633-1086; or see their materials at http://members.aol.com/edwardmast/divestment.html.

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