Saturday, March 19, 2016

My "Letter to the Editor"

Caterpillar D9 is used to demolish Palestinian homes...
Two days ago, the City of Portland took the next step in being "Occupation Free" when it's Socially Responsible Investment Committee (SCIC) voted to recommend that City funds should not be invested in Caterpillar, citing concern that Caterpillar Corporation violates a number of the City’s socially responsible investment criteria.  Needless to say, those of us in the BDS movement - and, in particular, Occupation Free Portland, the coalition of religious, social and other justice groups and individuals, were ecstatic, although the larger step of getting the Portland City Council to accept this recommendation remains ahead of us.

Immediately after the (4-2) vote was taken, the local press went to work to blast the decision, re-hashing all of the old, tired arguments as to why the city should not take this step (

The following is my response to that article:

...and to uproot Palestinian olive trees
“The company just makes tractors.”  How na├»ve are you?  The D9 bulldozer/tractors that the Oregonian airily dismisses in this manner are tools of destruction – designed to the exact specifics of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

Caterpillar knows only too well that these weapons will be used to destroy Palestinian homes and to uproot Palestinian olive trees.  Caterpillar is not an innocent vendor of a farmer’s tool that has been altered beyond its original purposes – they are involved in every step of the modifications to create this weapon!

Those who say investors should “engage” with Caterpillar (and other “bad actors”) ignore the fact that churches (specifically the United Methodist and Presbyterian churches), and others have engaged with Caterpillar for years (10+ for the Methodists) and that, while well aware that the continued manufacture and sale of the D9 to the IDF is a violation of human rights, Caterpillar has not changed its behavior one iota.

What has changed is that churches and other entities have stepped away from the table and taken other measures.  The Presbyterian Church voted in 2014 to divest from Caterpillar.  The Oregon Idaho Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church voted in 2015 to divest from Caterpillar – and that church’s international body will consider a number of measures around this issue when it meets in Portland in May.
The D9 was also used to construct the "Wall"

In the meantime, the Socially Responsible Investment Committee has done the right thing – the responsible thing – and I hope the City of Portland will have the mettle to support them!

1 comment:

  1. As a retired clergy person and former EAPPI volunteer, I have walked with the people in Israel and Palestine. I have experienced and accompanied people there. Some of my Israeli friends with whom I shared their daily life --such as the women who daily go the the checkpoint watch to monitor and record violations, and the people who participate in the Parents' Circle-- often said to me,"Now that you've been here and seen some of these occurrences, you now now how these are eroding the moral fibre of our Israeli society." And from my Palestinian friends, who experience daily humiliations, military occupation, going through checkpoints and even arbitrary military checkpoints in the middle of Palestine by IDF military forces, some have their streets divided by a Wall--they just tell me how they appreciate the ministry of accompaniment that testify to their steadfastness in their struggle for peace, justice in that difficult holy land where unholy actualities and injustices are daily realities....Therefore, there must be justice for Palestine!!!!