For Immediate Release
Human Rights Advocates Intensify Call for Divestment as Israeli Court Fails to Provide Justice in Killing of American Peace Activist
WASHINGTON - The 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.
FRIENDS: Now More Than Ever
Independent journalism has become the last firewall against government and corporate lies. Yet, with frightening regularity, independent media sources are losing funding, closing down or being blacked out by Google and Facebook. Never before has independent media been more endangered. If you believe in Common Dreams, if you believe in people-powered independent media, please support us now and help us fight—with truths—against the lies that would smother our democracy. Please help keep Common Dreams alive and growing. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder