Showing posts with label caterpillar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caterpillar. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

University of Washington Community to Graduation Speaker: Stop Bulldozer Sales to Israel

Press release from our member groups Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights- University of Washington and The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice. You can read the open letter to Jon Huntsman signed by more than 100 groups here

Republican presidential hopeful, governor of Utah, and board member of the company that manufactured the bulldozer used to kill Washington state college student and nonviolent protester Rachel Corrie, Jon Huntsman will address 45,000 attendants of University of Washington’s 138th graduation ceremonies. 

An open letter signed by over 100 student groups, alumni, faculty, and community organizations including the parents of Rachel Corrie explains CAT’s role in Palestine. Amin Odeh of Seattle group Voices for Palestine adds, “Caterpillar bulldozers in the Westbank and Gaza destroy homes, crops, and crush any hope for Peace.” The letter asks Huntsman to use his position on the board to “address the continuing harm caused by Caterpillar’s machines in Palestine” by “suspending sales to the Israeli military…until guarantees are received that their equipment will not be used to violate international law or commit human rights abuses.” The letter also asks Huntsman to meet with representatives of the Rachel Corrie Foundation and other signatories.

Member of Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights at University of Washington Caitlin Palo says, “Our letter is not a protest of Huntsman, on the contrary we address him in good faith about what he can do to make a difference in Palestine.” Professor of Global Health Aaron Katz explains why he signed the letter, “Recognizing that human rights in Palestine are as important as human rights anywhere is the social justice issue of our time…Jon Huntsman has an opportunity to influence CAT’s role.” Graduating seniors will be congratulated outside of Century Link Field with fliers including more information about CAT’s role in Palestine and a message to hold up during Huntsman’s speech. Graduating Senior Aaron Lerner, who co-authored a letter in last week’s UW Daily News titled “Not all Jewish Huskies are ‘For Israel,’” was excited about the event at Graduation. “As a graduating senior I just want my university to invest symbolically and literally in companies that fall in line with the ethical values of the UW, companies that respect international human rights norms.”

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Twitter Action for CAT Shareholder Meeting June 12!

Caterpillar will be conducting its 2013 annual meeting of stockholders on  Wednesday, June 12 at 8am EDT in  Greensboro, North Carolina. A number of groups are planning actions around the meeting and you can get involved as well by tweeting during the meeting about CAT selling weaponized bulldozers to Israel, house demolitions, and BDS. 

The meeting is from 8am-9am EDT, so plan your tweets to be posted then. Sample tweets below. You can also make your own using #stopCAT and @CaterpillarInc. 

  • Rachel stood in front of CAT bulldozer to protect Palestinian home & YOU can join Day of Action against @CaterpillarInc (Tweet Now)
  • Since 1967 Israel has demolished at least 25,000 Palestinian homes #stopCAT (Tweet Now
  • In March 2003 a Caterpillar D9 bulldozer operated by Israeli army killed peace activist Rachel Corrie #stopCAT (Tweet Now
  • Surprised @CaterpillarInc wasn't named to "25 Noteworthy Companies" profiting from occupation & #humanrights abuses (Tweet Now
  • Shame that @CaterpillarInc proudly supports Israel's brutal military occupation (Tweet Now
  • .@CaterpillarInc is the world's leading manufacturer of destruction equipment #stopCAT (Tweet Now
  • At Visitors Center u can experience Caterpillar. Don't worry, ur house won't be demolished by a bulldozer #stopCAT (Tweet Now)
  • .@OberlinCollege Student Senate voted to divest from @CaterpillarInc. Won’t TIAA-CREF do the same? #stopCAT @TC_Talks (Tweet Now)
  • 10 years ago Rachel Corrie blocked path of CAT bulldozer, protesting destruction of Palestinian homes #stopCAT (Tweet Now
  • Don’t you love shareholder meetings for corporations that support the Israeli occupation? #stopCAT @CaterpillarInc (Tweet Now
  • So what will it be? People or profit? Rachel Corrie chose people #stopCAT #RememberRachel (Tweet Now)  
  • Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes has killed 21 unarmed Palestinians since 1967 #stopCAT (Tweet Now
  • @CaterpillarInc bulldozers destroy Palestinian homes, build illegal settlements & walls, kill civilians #stopCAT (Tweet Now
Also Jon Huntsman, who is best known for being one the Republican presidential hopefuls of the 2012 elections but also holds a prominent position as a board member of Caterpillar, will be the commencement speaker at the University of Washington on Saturday, June 15. 

Students for Palestinian Equal Rights and The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice are organizing lots of ways to educate commencement-goers and graduates about the role of CAT in the Israeli occupation and to urge Huntsman to use his position to end sales of CAT bulldozers to Israel. Get involved here and follow #uwCATfree on Twitter. 
  • Hey @JonHuntsman, It's Time. CAT Out of Palestine via @uwsuper (Tweet Now
  • #Huskies Take Action and urge @JonHuntsman to end sales of CAT bulldozers to Israel #stopCAT (Tweet Now)
  • Congrats #uwgrad13! Use this occasion to tell ur commencement speaker @JonHuntsman to do right thing #uwCATfree (Tweet Now)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Take Action: Verdict in Corrie Case Requires U.S. Investigation

Urge the U.S. Government to Investigate Israel’s Attacks on Rachel and Others

Rachel Corrie
Rachel Corrie was a U.S. citizen and a human rights defender committed to ending Israel’s illegal demolition of Palestinian homes. According to the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions,Israel has demolished an estimated 27,000 Palestinian structures in Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967.

Rachel was killed by the Israeli military with a U.S.-taxpayer funded Caterpillar D9 bulldozer on March 16, 2003, in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, while seeking to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition.

In August 2012, a civil case in Israeli court against the Israeli military filed by the Corrie family concluded with the presiding judge not only absolving the State of Israel of any liability, but also blaming Rachel for her own death.  This is unacceptable.  

Take action today by signing this petition launched by us and our friends at the Center for Constitutional Rights urging the U.S. government to conduct investigations into all cases of Israel severely injuring or killing U.S. human rights defenders.
The U.S. government has long maintained that the Israeli military’s investigation into Rachel’s death was not thorough, credible, and transparent. The Israeli court’s verdict has only reinforced the fact that Israel is incapable of investigating and holding itself accountable for killing Rachel and severely injuring and killing other U.S. human rights defenders. 

Click to watch a video of a member group action for Rachel
Recently, member groups around the country took action during the Rachel Corrie Week of Action surrounding the verdict, focused on building the We Divest Campaign, which calls on financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest from companies involved in the Israeli occupation, including Caterpillar.On Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, activists from member group Hilton Head for Peace held a vigil to honor Rachel’s life and work for justice.

In Oak Creek, Wisconsin, member group Friends of Palestine demonstrated and performed street theatre at Caterpillar’s Mining Operations Headquarter.
Member groups around the country took action for Rachel.

Other activists and member groups in Honolulu, HI; Boca Raton, FL; Houston, TX; Phoenix, AZ; Philadelphia, PA; St. Louis, MO; Eureka, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, CA; and Chicago, IL held other actions around the country outside of Caterpillar dealerships, an Israeli ConsulateTIAA-CREF offices. US Campaign members joinred others in Washington, D.C. in a demonstration outside the State Department. You can see photos of many of the actions here.

Other U.S. activists focused on social media. On the day of the verdict and the day after, #RachelCorrie and #divest4justice trended among the top ten most popular hashtags. And more than one hundred individuals worldwide posted photos in solidarity with Rachel and her family on this Tumblr blog
Whether or not you were able to take action during the Week of Action, please take action today by signing this petition calling for a U.S. investigation now.
Click here for a terrific round-up of the international Week of Action by Rochelle Gause of the Rachel Corrie Foundation, which ends with these poignant words:
“I don't think that Rachel should have moved. I think we should all have been standing there with her,” said Cindy Corrie in response to Judge Gershon's comment that Rachel should have moved out of the way of the Caterpillar bulldozer.  Rachel wrote from Gaza, “The international media and our government are not going to tell us that we are effective, important, justified in our work, courageous, intelligent, valuable. We have to do that for each other, and one way we can do that is by continuing our work, visibly.” May we continue to take Rachel’s words to heart, find ways to successfully mobilize ourselves, strengthen our networks, utilize new forms of communicating to affirm the just cause of the Palestinian people and stand with the movement for universal human rights in Palestine and Israel.
Please honor Rachel’s life and legacy by signing this petition today. 
Together we’ll deliver the petition to the State Department next month. Help us reach our goal of 10,000 signatures by signing right now and spreading the word!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Israeli Court Fails to Provide Justice in Killing of Rachel Corrie

Human Rights Advocates Intensify Call for Divestment as Israeli Court Fails to Provide Justice in Killing of American Peace Activist 

We Divest Campaign, a national coalition demanding pension fund giant TIAA-CREF divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, is intensifying its call for divestment from Caterpillar Inc. in the wake of an Israeli court ruling today siding with the government in the civil court case brought by the Corrie family. The case alleged that the State of Israel was responsible for the killing of 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death by a Caterpillar bulldozer as she attempted to use nonviolent civil disobedience to stop the destruction of Palestinian homes by the Israeli army in Gaza in March 2003. The court’s decision followed an Israeli investigation that the US ambassador to Israel recently criticized as lacking credibility. 

In a series of actions timed to coincide with the issuing of the verdict, human rights advocates in cities across the US will protest in front of local TIAA-CREF offices this week and deliver
a letter urging trustees to divest fully from Caterpillar and other companies that profit from Israeli human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories. The We Divest Campaign is supported by the Corrie family and the Rachel Corrie Foundation

“At the time of her death, Rachel was trying to prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes by Caterpillar bulldozers,” said Riham Barghouti, a member of the We Divest National Coordinating Committee. “Israel’s illegal policy of destroying Palestinian homes in the occupied territories, sometimes extending to entire villages, remains as urgent an issue today as it was when Rachel was killed. In Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and Hebron Hills, Palestinians continue to live with the daily threat of their homes and property being confiscated or demolished by Israeli authorities. If TIAA-CREF trustees want to live up to their motto of investing ‘for the greater good,’ they must stop profiting from companies such as Caterpillar that are enabling Israel to carry out such gross human rights violations.” 

While TIAA-CREF recently dropped $72 million worth of Caterpillar shares from its social choice funds, following the lead of ethical investment ratings agency MSCI, which downgraded Caterpillar in February in part
over concerns about the use of the company’s products by the Israeli military, it continues to invest over $1 billion in Caterpillar through its general fund.

The We Divest Campaign is a national coalition initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace in July 2010 and includes the American Friends Service Committee, Adalah-NY, Grassroots International, the US Palestinian Community Network, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Caterpillar Failing to Meet Its Own Code of Social Responsibility

In a recent letter to the editor in the Journal Star newspaper of Peoria, Illinois (home of heavy machinery giant Caterpillar Corporation's headquarters), Mike Coogan of the US Campaign argues that "Caterpillar's inability to live up to its own social responsibility code is starting to pose serious problems for the company's bottom line."  Citing the recent removal of Caterpillar from the World Socially Responsible Index by MSCI Inc., a leading investment decision support provider, and subsequent divestment by TIAA-CREFF, he suggests that Caterpillar's business can only be harmed by the corporations continued complicity in Israeli human rights abuses.  Currently, D9 bulldozers manufactured by Caterpillar are used by Israel to demolish Palestinian homes and civilian infrastructure. As a result, according to Coogan, Caterpillar is "in the business of civilian displacement and flagrant human rights abuses," and their shares will continue to lose value due to the divestment of socially conscious investors.

Forum: Caterpillar is not being social responsible

Caterpillar's inability to live up to its own social responsibility code is starting to pose serious problems for the company's bottom line. MSCI Inc., an investment decision support firm, just announced that Caterpillar Inc. would be excluded from the World Socially Responsible Index, a benchmark for socially responsible investment...

Read more here

Want to help stop Caterpillar's support of Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes?  Join our campaign and TAKE ACTION to let Caterpillar know that their complicity in Israeli human rights abuses is unacceptable!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anti-BDS Propaganda Fail

The anti-BDS crowd has been dealt a major blow to their propaganda attempts this week after MSCI made it clear that Israel was a major factor in its decision to remove Caterpillar from three of its popular indexes that track socially responsible investments.

Last week several pro-Israel groups claimed that, once again, the "BDS Movement Tells Lies and Creates Pretend 'Victories'" and that TIAA-CREF's decision to remove $72 million in Caterpillar shares from its Social Choice Fund had nothing to do with Israel.  

But from an MSCI statement issued June 25: 
“The key factors determining the rating include a January 2012 labor dispute and subsequent plant closing in Canada, an on-going controversy associated with use of the company’s equipment in the occupied Palestinian territories, management of environmental issues, and employee safety."
This doesn't mean that Caterpillar is willing to get the message just yet. Caterpillar spokesman Jim Dugan said in a statement: "We hope and wish for a peaceful resolution to the unrest in the Middle East, but that solution is a political matter to be worked out by the appropriate parties. Caterpillar does not and should not have a role in that political process." But apparently Caterpillar has no problem having a role in destroying Palestinian homes and being complicit in Israeli human rights abuses

The Israeli government is in even greater denial. "Mixing politics and the economy in such a desperate and biased manner makes for very poor economic results and even poorer politics," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
"As long as they [Palestinians] spend their time on negative hate campaigns instead of building their own society and economy, they will be on the losing side at the end of the day."

The desperate attempts to spin this clear
BDS victory for human rights into something else is just another sign of the increasing success of BDS activism both in the United States and across the world. We have to use this win to push harder to end corporate complicity in Israeli occupation and apartheid. 

Sign our letter
to the Presbyterian Church-USA urging them to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solution and HP. Register for our National Organizers' Conference at St. Louis University September 21-23 to strengthen BDS efforts. And check out our website for more ideas on how you can get involved.

Join TIAA-CREF Vigil in Chicago!

Chicago Divests, a coalition that includes US Campaign member groups American Friends Service CommitteeThe Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, and Jewish Voice for Peace, is holding a vigil this Friday, June 29 at 12pm in Chicago (200 N LaSalle Street) to recognize TIAA-CREF's recent divestment from Caterpillar and urge the financial firm to continue divesting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. 

From Chicago Divests press release: 
TIAA-CREF, one of the nation's largest retirement fund providers, invests $2.3 billion in corporations profiting from human rights abuses in occupied Palestine. After years of grassroots campaigning and shareholder pressure, TIAA-CREF removed Caterpillar from its Social Choice Accounts last Thursday. Caterpillar provides bulldozers to Israel military and civil authorities for the systematic destruction of Palestinian homes, orchards, and businesses.  Caterpillar used to enjoy $73 million of financial support from TIAA-CREF's social choice accounts, which are designed to "favor companies with a 'best-in-class' record on environmental, social and corporate governance issues." Now, TIAA-CREF can no longer claim that Caterpillar's facilitation of ethnic cleansing is compatible with "financial services for the greater good." We applaud TIAA-CREF for recognizing Caterpillar as an ethically irresponsible investment and for giving its clients the option of a Caterpillar-free Social Choice fund. 
Find more information and RSVP on Facebook.

The Presbyterian Church-USA will be voting on divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola Solution and HP in the next week.
Almost 4,000 people have already signed a letter supporting the divestment recommendation and you should too

Make sure to join us for our
11th Annual National Organizers' Conference September 21-23 at St. Louis University to learn how you can get more involved in BDS and other efforts to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

BDS WIN: TIAA-CREF Removes Caterpillar from Social Choice Funds

Press Release from We Divest Campaign 

Caterpillar Removed from TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds

Victory for Pro-divestment Advocates

June 21, 2012- Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF has removed Caterpillar, Inc. from its Social Choice Funds portfolio. As of May 1, 2012, financial data posted on TIAA-CREF’s website valued Social Choice Funds shares in Caterpillar at $72,943,861. Today it is zero.

“We applaud this decision,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise, Director of Campaigns at Jewish Voice for Peace and National Coordinator of the We Divest Campaign ( “It’s long past time that TIAA-CREF began living up to its motto of ‘Financial Services for the Greater Good’ when it comes to the people of Israel and Palestine.” 

Since 2010, We Divest has been urging TIAA-CREF to drop Caterpillar and other companies profiting from and facilitating Israel’s 45-year-old military occupation and colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

“By selling weaponized bulldozers to Israel, Caterpillar is complicit in Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights,” said Rabbi Wise. “We’re glad to see that the socially responsible investment community appears to be recognizing this and is starting to take appropriate action.”

Caterpillar has come under increasing criticism from human rights organizations in recent years for continuing to supply bulldozers to Israel, which uses them to demolish Palestinian civilian homes and destroy crops and agricultural land in the occupied territories, and to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.

In the coming weeks, many will be watching the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly taking place in Pittsburgh, where church commissioners will vote on a motion to divest from Caterpillar and two other companies, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard, that remain in TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds.

Last month, Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker institution, divested $900,000 worth of shares in Caterpillar stating: “We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock.”

What Others are Saying

Omar Barghouti, Palestinian human rights activist and founding member of the BDS movement said, “CAT is out of the bag of TIAA-CREF’s socially responsible companies thanks to the inspiring campaign waged by JVP and its partners, with vision, persistence and tactical skillfulness. Palestinian civil society, represented by the BDS National Committee (BNC), deeply appreciates these efforts and believes that more pressure will ultimately convince TIAA-CREF to fulfill its basic moral obligation to finally divest from CAT and all other corporations that are complicit in Israel’s grave and escalating violations of international law and human rights.”

Cindy and Craig Corrie, Rachel Corrie’s parents said, “For nearly a decade, we have witnessed human rights abuses committed with Caterpillar equipment in the West Bank and Gaza and have joined thousands who have asked the company to stop supporting these actions.  We are hugely gratified that TIAA-CREF has taken this step.  When governments and corporations avoid responsibility, we must refuse to profit from their abuses. Our family salutes and thanks TIAA-CREF for this decision that moves all of us closer to accountability.”

Jennifer Bing, Middle East Program Director of the Chicago office of the American Friends Service Committee, a member organization of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, said, “As a TIAA-CREF client institution which has divested from Caterpillar ourselves, we are encouraged to see this first, great step toward creating a complete occupation-free portfolio that my colleagues and I are eager to have as an investment option.”

Samia Shafi of Adalah-NY, a member organization of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, said,  “This small, positive first step shows that TIAA-CREF is not immune to pressure for human rights for Palestinians. Our We Divest Campaign will continue pressuring TIAA-CREF until we win full divestment from all companies in TIAA-CREF’s portfolio that profit from violations of Palestinian human rights.”

Anna Baltzer, National Organizer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation — a coalition of more than 380 organizations around the country — and a member group of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, stated: “After years of Caterpillar refusing to change its practices, we are gratified that the U.S. corporation and others like it are seeing that support for Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies comes at a dear cost. There can be no more business as usual with such institutions. The tide is turning.”

Continue Reading

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Suggestion for the State Department on Human Rights and Business

Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Maria Otero spoke yesterday at the State Department on implementing the Guiding Principles of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

Otero claims that "We must establish clear guidelines and reliable processes so that business can do their part in respecting human rights. The U.S. government uses our foreign policy to help strengthen the rule of law and human rights, which in turn improves the environment for prosperous business. It also ensures investment and innovation don’t violate standards of stable and democratic society."

That sounds just fine and dandy, Under Secretary Otero.  Here's a suggestion to help advance the United States' supposed concern for businesses respecting human rights: get the State Department to stop licensing Caterpillar D9 bulldozers for export to the Israeli military, paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

As we've documented copiously over the years, Israel has misused these bulldozers in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act to commit human rights abuses of Palestinians, including the deliberate injuring and killing of civilians, the demolition of civilian homes and businesses, the razing of Palestinian agriculture, and the building of Israel's illegal settlements and Apartheid Wall.

Under Secretary Otero, we challenge you to implement your fine words about the United States encouraging businesses to respect human rights: sanction Israel by ending U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons transfers of Caterpillar bulldozers and stop U.S. corporate profiteering from violations of Palestinian human rights.

But, we're not waiting for you to take action either.  Right now we're down in Tampa encouraging the United Methodists to divest from Caterpillar and other corporations that profit from Israeli military occupation. Follow the latest developments from Tampa on our Twitter feed here.  

Update from Tampa on Methodist Divestment Vote

US Campaign National Organizer Anna Baltzer and Steering Committee member Sydney Levy write from Tampa where they provide an upbeat assessment of the impending vote of the United Methodist Church resolution on divestment from companies profiting from Israeli military occupation.

Check out their article, "The Push for Divestment Continues as the Methodist General Conference Enters Its Second Week" on Mondoweiss.

Palestinian Methodist Missionary and Pastor Alex Awad outside the Tampa convention center where the Methodist divestment vote will take place. (Photo: Anna Baltzer)
The Methodist vote is scheduled to take place sometime today.  You can watch a live-stream of the proceedings  by clicking here. 

Also, be sure to follow the live-Tweeting from the Methodist conference at the following hash tags and Twitter handles:
  • #gc2012 
  • #churchdivest
  • @UMKairosResp
  • @US_Campaign
  • @jvplive

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    On the 9th Anniversary of Rachel's Stand in Gaza

    The following is a letter written by Cindy and Craig Corrie. 

    Dear Friends,

    It has been nine years today since our daughter Rachel was crushed to death under an Israeli driven, U.S. funded and built, Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in Gaza. In March 2003, the news was full of talk of war with Iraq - a preemptive war to protect the west, particularly the U.S. and Israel, from the weapons of mass destruction then alleged to have been amassed by Saddam Hussein. When Rachel traveled to Gaza that year, the world was not watching. According to Human Rights Watch, from September 2000 until September 2004, 1,600 Palestinian homes in the city of Rafah were destroyed by the Israeli military as it occupied the Gaza Strip. One-tenth of the population lost their homes. Rachel chose to be in Gaza when the ground attack against Iraq broke out. She feared an escalation of the violence and a tightening of the isolation against people there, as the world looked to the northeast and watched the carnage in Iraq. It did not happen as immediately as some expected, but with the Israeli military attack on Gaza of November 2008 through January 2009, the violence became overwhelming, and the tightening of the seige initiated in 2006 by Israel to remove Hamas, made the isolation nearly complete.

    In 2003, Rachel wrote: "I went to a rally a few days ago in Khan Younis in solidarity with the people of Iraq. Many analogies were made about the continuing suffering of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation and the upcoming occupation of Iraq by the United States - not the war itself - but the certain aftermath of the war. If people aren't already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope they will start."

    Now, in 2012, we listen to similar news - calls for bombing Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. The preemptive war has already begun with the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists. Our government tells us sanctions against Iran will pressure their government to abandon any program to develop these weapons, but experience tells us sanctions only increase the defensiveness of repressive regimes and tighten their control over their populations.

    The news from our politicians is discouraging and even frightening, but in the meeting places and streets in our communities, we are making the kind of change that Rachel envisioned. It is happening in Olympia with continuing support for the Olympia Food Co-op's boycott of Israeli products until the rights of Palestinians are addressed. Throughout Puget Sound this week, we have successfully challenged efforts by the Israeli government to use members of the Israeli gay community to distract from the continuing oppression of Palestinian people. Churches in our region are conversing about divestment from corporations like Caterpillar Inc. for their refusal to address their continuing participation in human rights abuses and the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

    In 2002, Rachel wrote, "I think it's important for people who oppose war and repression to speak about who we are as a community in addition to speaking about war and racism and injustice. We are not outside. I think it's important that human rights and resistance to oppression be included in the way we define ourselves as a community..."  As the threat of war with Iran, the disintegration of the situation in Afghanistan, and the bombing of Gaza continue, the work we are all doing in our hometowns at the grassroots level is powerful and critical. Today, as we remember Rachel's stand nine years ago, we encourage our friends across the country and world to strengthen your own communities, educate, educate, educate, support each other in taking action, and walk with peace, love, and forgiveness in your hearts as you work for change.

    Cindy and Craig Corrie
    March 16, 2012

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    David Wildman at PennBDS: Motorola and Caterpillar profited off apartheid South Africa before occupation

    David Wildman serves on the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which has supported the national boycott and divestment campaigns against Motorola and Caterpillar for much of the past decade. The following appeared on Mondoweiss.

    by Alex Kane on February 6, 2012

    Palestinian-American poet Remi Kanazi, who had a rocking performance at Penn's boycott, divestment and sanctions conference (BDS) Saturday night, explained the appeal of BDS in a tweet: "#BDS [is] so successful because it's a positive, ethical, rights based, anti-racist & inclusive movement to upend Apartheid. #pennbds." The conference showcased those qualities. But to add to Kanazi's list, one reason why BDS campaigns targeting Israeli apartheid is so appealing is because it has a successful precedent to look to, as David Wildman reminded conference-goers.
    Wildman is a long-time faith-based activist who gave a talk on Saturday during a panel on the movement against South African apartheid. He told conference goers that, just as Motorola and Caterpillar profit from the Israeli occupation, these companies profited from South African apartheid. And as I learned after doing some reading, Motorola did eventually divest from South Africa in 1985. Today, Motorola and Caterpillar are the targets of divestment campaigns across the country--this time with the focus on Israel.
    Adalah-NY has the history on Motorola:
    Motorola today enables Israeli apartheid as Motorola South Africa once enabled South African apartheid. Forty percent owned by its American parent, Motorola South Africa supplied mobile radio transmitters to the South African police.These radio transmitters helped police suppress protest against white rule. Motorola’s dealings with the apartheid regime came to an end in 1985, when Motorola sold its South African operations to South African electronic company Allied Technologies Ltd. (Altech) on the condition that the latter cease equipment sales to South African agencies. The agreement was a win for US anti-apartheid activists, who had pressured Motorola to break its ties with the South African regime and had helped to pass municipal laws, in New York and elsewhere that prohibited city governments from doing business with companies supplying equipment used to enforce apartheid in South Africa. 
    Caterpillar, on the other hand, resisted the pressure to divest from South Africa. The company's 1985 explanation for resisting calls for divestment is cited in this book on U.S.-South Africa relations:
    Caterpillar is aware of demands that U.S. companies withdraw from South Africa as a protest against governmental policies in that country. We do not believe that such a withdrawal by Caterpillar from South Africa would serve any useful purpose. Withdrawal would be harmful to our employees of every race and would eliminate the  opportunity to work for peaceful change.
    Today, Caterpillar and Motorola continue to profit from Israel's decades-long military occupation. Caterpillar's bulldozers are the machines that crush Palestinian homes, and Motorola, as Adalah-NY explains,
    enables Israel’s apartheid policies and violations of international law through the development and sale of products specifically designed for and used by the Israeli Army
    That's why they are the targets of boycotts and calls for divestment, like Jewish Voice for Peace's TIAA-CREF campaign.
    Fittingly, a day after the end of the BDS conference, the news that South Africa was considering imposing sanctions on Israel broke:
    The country's Minister of Arts and Culture announced at a conference in Pretoria last week that the government is seeking to increase support for the dispossessed Palestinian people.
    "We want to step up our support of the Palestinians and are investigating a number of peaceful ways to upgrade this support. We have no problem with supporting the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel," Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile told a local newspaper. 
    How the tables have turned.