Jewish Group Confronts Caterpillar In Israel
San Francisco, CA November 22 , 2004 - California-based Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) announced today that it has filed a shareholder resolution requesting Caterpillar, Inc. to review whether the sale of its equipment to the Israeli army violates the corporation's own Code of Worldwide Business Conduct. This move comes on the heels of a release by Human Rights Watch of a letter calling on Caterpillar, Inc. to "cease all sales of the D-9 to the Israeli army."
JVP believes that the use of Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers to demolish homes of Palestinians violates not only international law, but Caterpillar's code of ethics which the company calls its "most important document." A Presbyterian Church USA spokesperson also confirmed that the Church, with 3 million dollars invested in Caterpillar stock, will support the resolution when it comes up for vote at the April 13, 2005 Caterpillar shareholders meeting.
JVP partnered with the Catholic Sisters of Loretto and Mercy Investment Group to file the same resolution last year, the first time a resolution on Israeli human rights violations had ever been introduced in a US corporation. The resolution received a surprising 4% vote, exceeding the minimum number of votes required to allow re-introduction of the resolution this year.
"Since we worked with the Sisters to file our resolution last year, Caterpillar has come under a huge amount of pressure for selling bulldozers to Israel that are used to demolish homes," said JVP director of campaigns Liat Weingart. "Groups as varied as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as the Presbyterians and Pax Christi have all criticized Caterpillar for their sales of bulldozers to Israel. Groups within the Mennonite and Anglican churches are lobbying for them to take a stand as well."
Presbyterian Church USA stated that they would support the shareholder resolution. "This is within the normal operations of our committee," said Bill Somplatsky-Jarman, the primary researcher for the PC(USA)'s corporate responsibility arm and staff to the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI). "We supported this resolution last year and there is no reason why we couldn't do so this year."
JVP spokesperson Cecilie Surasky added, "The US government has failed to be an honest broker for peace, so targeted economic efforts by citizens' groups are necessary to reach a lasting peace in the region. Working to end the Israeli occupation, which is illegal according to international law, is the best way to help the Jewish people build a future free from terror and anti-Semitism."
Founded in 1996, Jewish Voice for Peace is a national grassroots peace organization dedicated to promoting a US foreign policy in the Middle East based on peace, democracy, human rights and respect for international law. JVP's board of Jewish American and Israeli advisors includes Pulitzer and Tony award winner Tony Kushner, actor Ed Asner, poet Adrienne Rich as well as other respected rabbis, artists, scholars and activists.