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Quakers Divest from Caterpillar!

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Have you heard the wonderful news? After a roller coaster United Methodist divestment campaign ending in partial victory, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is so excited to announce that the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC), which holds over $200 million in assets, has divested from Caterpillar! FFC divested $900,000 in shares of Caterpillar, which continues to feel the pressure from all sides for its production and sale of weaponized bulldozers to Israel, used to violate Palestinian rights and destroy Palestinian homes, schools, hospitals, olive groves, and lives.

Ann Arbor Quakers asked FFC to divest and issued this warm statement of thanks:

"Ann Arbor Friends welcome the decision by Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) to divest from Caterpillar Corp. This is a significant step since FFC handles investments for over 250 Quaker meetings, schools, organizations, trusts, and endowments around the US. In taking this action, FFC is truly upholding the core commitment of the Society of Friends to peace. We ask Friends and people of faith everywhere to join us in expressing thanks to FFC and asking them to continue divesting from all companies that are helping to sustain the Israeli occupation."

Let's heed their call. Click here to thank FFC for its decision to divest from Caterpillar!

FFC has a "zero tolerance for weapons and weapons components," and said, "We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock."

FFC is not the first Quaker institution to avoid companies that support the Israeli occupation. In March 2008, the Board of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a US Campaign member group, approved an Israel/Palestine investment screen, stating:

"Investments should not be made in any company that provides products or services, including financial services, to Israeli governmental or military bodies… or to Israeli or Palestinian organizations or groups that are used to facilitate or undertake violent acts against civilians or violations of international law."

The AFSC investment screen is based on a 29-company "no-buy" list -- originally compiled by the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church -- which includes Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, Veolia, and Hewlett Packard. In June 2011, AFSC also joined the "We Divest Campaign," which calls on financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest from the Israeli occupation.

Illinois Yearly Meeting and St Louis Monthly Meeting support the "We Divest Campaign."

And that's not all. Illinois Yearly Meeting and St. Louis Monthly Meeting of Friends also came out in support of the "We Divest Campaign," Sandy Springs Monthly Meeting called on FFC to divest from all companies profiting from violence in Israel/Palestine, and the Ann Arbor Meeting agreed to a call from its Palestine-Israel Action Group (PIAG) -- a member of the US Campaign -- to boycott companies supporting the Israeli military and Israeli settlement products, building on a similar decision by Britain Yearly Meeting.

FFC's decision is a new step forward for aligning Quaker values with investments. Please click here to thank FFC, whether or not you are a Quaker!

Photo by PIAG member of devastation wrought by Caterpillar.

We are hopeful that these actions will put wind in the sails of the exciting divestment campaign at Earlham College, another Quaker institution. The campaign, led by US Campaign member group BDS Earlham, aims for "Earlham to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard because they are profiting from Israeli violations of international law and principles of human rights."

In less than two months, the Presbyterian Church (USA) will vote on divestment from those same companies. In addition to thanking FFC, please click here to sign a letter of support for Presbyterian divestment if you haven't done so yet!

The snowball is gathering momentum. Let us continue our support for courageous churches and other institutions that are putting their money where their mouths are.