IL - As Caterpillar shareholders gather on June 10th at the
Northern Trust Bank Building in Chicago, to discuss falling profits,
they will be met by representatives of Jewish, Christian, and human
rights organizations calling on Caterpillar to build the U.S. economy,
not destroy Palestinian lives and livelihoods.
Human rights groups will urge Caterpillar shareholders to vote yes on proposal #5,
a shareholder resolution which calls for a review of Caterpillar sales
to countries with poor human rights records, including Israel. The
resolution is sponsored by an interfaith coalition including Jewish Voice for Peace, the Mercy Investment Program, and 16 Catholic orders. Jewish Voice for Peace will personally deliver thousands of letters
asking the Caterpillar Board of Directors to end military sales to
Israel. These shareholders will be supported outside by a public
gathering calling on Caterpillar to "Build America, Not Destroy Palestine."This effort is organized in part by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and local groups, Chicagoans Against Apartheid in Palestine and the Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East. Events are also planned for June 10th at Caterpillar dealerships across the country.
According to Katherine Fuchs, National Organizer for the US Campaign to
End the Israeli Occupation, "It is possible for Caterpillar to turn a
profit, employ Americans, and rebuild the U.S. economy without
destroying Palestinian livelihoods. Investors need to understand that
supporting the violation of international law and the destruction of
Palestinian homes, land, lives, and livelihood is not good business.
The recent divestment decisions of the Church of England and Hampshire
College show that there is a price for destroying instead of building."
The dissent inside and outside of the Caterpillar shareholder meeting
comes in the midst of a growing movement to divest from Caterpillar
until it ends its material support for Israel's military occupation and
apartheid practices. Caterpillar equipment, including armored and
weaponized D-9 bulldozers, are used by the Israeli military to destroy
Palestinian homes, lay waste to thousands of acres of Palestinian
agricultural land, and build illegal Israeli settlements, which are
opposed by the Obama administration. Most recently, unmanned
Caterpillar D9 bulldozers were used to destroy houses during "Operation Cast Lead"
in December-January. Additionally, the Israeli military has killed
dozens of people using Caterpillar equipment, including American peace
activist Rachel Corrie of Olympia, Washington.
"Ultimately, Caterpillar is contributing to the destruction of any
future for the Palestinian people," notes Bill Chambers of Chicagoans
Against Apartheid in Palestine. "We challenge Caterpillar to contribute
to building, not destroying, Palestine."
The movement to hold Caterpillar accountable has received a recent boost from decisions by the Church of England and Hampshire College
to divest. These institutions held a combined total of more than $3
million in Caterpillar stock before their decisions to divest in
December 2008 and February 2009, respectively. More recently, a group
of 20 Israeli human rights organizations
have petitioned the Norwegian government to divest its pension fund
from a list of companies providing support for Israel's military
occupation, including Caterpillar.
on Caterpillar is part of a larger effort to promote accountability for
companies that profit from Israel's military occupation. Human rights
groups, students, and faith organizations have joined forces to put
pressure on these companies. The US Campaign and its member
organizations plan to continue pressuring Caterpillar by organizing
divestment efforts in cities, campuses, and churches across the country.
# # #
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a national coalition of
more than 280 organizations facilitating responsible U.S. policy toward
Israel/Palestine and responsible consumer choices to support human
rights, international law, and equality for all Israelis and
Palestinians. For more information about the US Campaign, please click