Based on previous calls for a boycott of the US-based Caterpillar Inc. “human rights” NGOs have joined with a number of extreme political groups in a “Day of Action” scheduled for 13 April 2005. The program and pretexts for this activity continue the previous practice used by groups such as HRW and Amnesty, in which the context of terrorism against Israelis and the ongoing conflict has been entirely erased. The result is a distorted indictment of Israel, which again exploits the language of universal human rights to promote the “South Africa strategy” designed to brand Israel as an “apartheid state”.
The Stop Caterpillar group lists the organizations contributing to the campaign, and HRW has acknowledged that the organization “will participate in the press conference in Chicago on the day of action against Caterpillar.” (Full text reproduced below.)
Also involved are blatantly pro-Palestinian groups such as the International Solidarity Movement and Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. In addition, a number of church groups are listed including the Presbyterian Church, which has been at the forefront of efforts to promote divestment from Israel amongst Christian groups. The program and sponsoring NGOs follow:
“Religious and human rights groups, investors take on Caterpillar in Chicago at April 13 annual shareholder meeting”
WHEN Wednesday, April 13
WHERE 12:00 – 3 pm: Protest at Northern Trust Building, 50 S LaSalle Street.
12:30 pm: Press conference outside of Northern Trust Building.
1:30 pm: Caterpillar annual shareholder meeting.
WHO Press conference:
Sister Mary Ann McGivern – Sisters of Loretto
Sister Valerie Heinonen – Mercy Investment Group
Cheryl Broderson – Aunt of Rachel Corrie, killed by Caterpillar bulldozer
Marty Rosenbluth – Israel/Palestine specialist, Amnesty International
Alison Parker – Refugee protection expert, Human Rights Watch
Liat Weingart – Jewish Voice for Peace
Hatem Abudayyeh – StopCAT Coalition.
WHAT Shareholders will vote on a groundbreaking resolution calling on CAT to investigate whether its sale of bulldozers to Israel violates its own Worldwide Code of Business Conduct. On the same day, groups in over 40 cities- including Chicago, Washington, DC, Dallas, Memphis, New York City, Stockholm, and Boston – will hold vocal demonstrations at Caterpillar dealerships and board member offices.
WHY While Israel recently ended its policy of home demolitions related to acts of violence, the vast majority continue under a policy of administrative home demolitions, meaning homes are typically destroyed due to minor permit violations.
For the second year in a row, JVP introduced a Caterpillar shareholder resolution calling for an investigation into whether the sale of such bulldozers violates CAT’s corporate responsibility policy. Currently, CAT is facing a lawsuit from the parents of a young American woman who was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer while trying to protect a Palestinian home and a global surge in bad press about Caterpillar’s role in the razing of homes.
U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation Jewish Voice for Peace Stop Caterpillar Coalition
APRIL 8, 2005 Stop Caterpillar Coalition
Mark Lance, U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
Matt Gaines, Stop Caterpillar Coalition – 312 804-2822
WASHINGTON — April 8 — What: On April 13, shareholders of Caterpillar, Inc. (CAT) will vote on a resolution calling on the company to investigate whether its sale of bulldozers to Israel for demolition of Palestinian homes, orchards and roads violates its own Worldwide Code of Business Conduct. On the same day, groups in over 30 cities — including Chicago, Washington, DC, Dallas, Memphis, New York City, and Boston — will hold demonstrations at Caterpillar dealerships and board member offices. International protests are also planned.
CAT is currently facing a lawsuit from the parents of a young American college student, Rachel Corrie, who was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer while trying to protect a Palestinian home in 2003.
Who: U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Jewish Voice for Peace, Stop Caterpillar Coalition, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others.’
When: Wednesday, April 13
U.S. Protests: San Francisco, CA; Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; Peoria, IL; Boston, MA; Cambridge, MA; St. Louis, MO; Raleigh, NC; Buffalo, NY; Poughkeepsie, NY; New York City, NY; Corvallis, OR; Greenville, SC; Memphis, TN; Dallas, TX; Austin, TX; Olympia, WA
International protests: Rafah, Gaza-Palestine; Birmingham, England, UK; Sweden
Text of response from HRW:
In response to your query, Human Rights Watch will participate in the press conference in Chicago on the day of action against Caterpillar. Our position, as stated publicly in the letter to Caterpillar’s board of directors, is that the company should stop selling its D9 to the IDF until it has assurances that the militarized bulldozer will not be used to commit violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The letter to CAT CEO James W. Owens is available at: http://hrw.org/campaigns/gaza/cat/.
New York Associate
Middle East and North Africa Division
HRW also sent a political letter to US President Bush on 11 April 2005 to coincide with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the US.