I have remarkable news. The Israeli press is reporting that Caterpillar is withholding the delivery of tens of D9 bulldozers—valued at $50 million—to the Israeli military.(1) These are weaponized bulldozers that are used to illegally destroy homes and orchards of Palestinian families. And they are the very same bulldozers as the one that killed a 23-year-old American peace activist named Rachel Corrie seven years ago when she tried to protect the home of the Nasrallah family in Gaza.
That’s why the next part of the story is even more amazing. The news reports say that the deliveries have been suspended now because Rachel’s parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, are bringing a civil suit against the government of Israel in a court in Tel Aviv.(2) The deliveries are to stop during the length of the trial. We take this as an indirect admission by the company that these bulldozers are being used to violate human rights and to violate the law. The Corrie story is sadly just one of thousands of stories of loss and pain.
A suspension of the sale of bulldozers is what we have been asking Caterpillar for over seven years now. This is a great win, but this is no time to let off the pressure.
Caterpillar and the U.S. government have neither confirmed nor denied the news. And news reports describe the company’s move as a temporary decision only. To urge the U.S. government to make this policy permanent, please sign the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s petition to President Obama to continue this new policy.
We need to hold both our government and corporations profiting from the occupation accountable. TIAA-CREF, one of the largest financial services in the United States, invests heavily in Caterpillar (over $250 million as of their last financial report). Please ask TIAA-CREF to divest from Caterpillar and other companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. If TIAA-CREF divests from Caterpillar, it will have a rippling impact everywhere.
Since 2003, Jewish Voice for Peace has been filing annual shareholder resolutions to pressure Caterpillar with a growing coalition of interfaith partners. We’ve organized protests. We’ve taken over a CAT dealership. We’ve worked in support of Presbyterian and Methodist divestment initiatives from the company, and with your help, we are asking TIAA-CREF to divest from Caterpillar as well.
Caterpillar has never budged… until now.
Caterpillar’s irresponsible behavior comes with a heavy price tag. In the last ten years, at least 11,795 homes have been demolished.(3) These statistics, gruesome as they are, cannot do justice to the pain of so many families, to their razed livelihoods and their shattered dreams.
The picture above does not come from an earthquake scene. It depicts the man-made destruction and the hopelessness that the Caterpillar bulldozers bring at the hand of the soldiers who wield them. Let’s make sure that this is the last picture of this kind we get to see.
Thank you and shabbat shalom,
Jewish Voice for Peace
(1) Report: Caterpillar to delay supply of D9 bulldozers to IDF. Jerusalem Post, Oct 25, 2010, as well as Israel’s Channel 2 TV, October 25, 2010 (evening broadcast in Hebrew).
(2) For updates on the trial, visit the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice.
(3) The statistics are from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions and run up only until July 28, 2010, a day after the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the northern Negev desert was razed to the ground. The village would be rebuilt and demolished five additional times (see Open Letter to JNF: Equal Rights, Sustainable Development for Negev, Not Dispossession of Bedouin! and El Araqib Village Demolished for Sixth Time.)