The Jewish Community Relations Council does not speak for us on Israel/Palestine.
We oppose Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and its human rights violations.
We ask the city of Portland to divest from Caterpillar Inc.
We, the undersigned, identify culturally and/or religiously as Jews residing in the greater Portland area. The values and ideals we embrace as Jews lead us to oppose Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories – the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip – occupied during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. We oppose investments by the city of Portland in companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of these territories and ask the city to divest from Caterpillar Inc.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,1 and other human rights defenders and faith-based organizations regard Caterpillar Inc. as one of the most high-profile collaborators in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Israel uses armored D9 bulldozers2 to demolish homes, factories, agricultural land and civilian infrastructure, including water pipes and networks needed for basic survival. In 2003 a weaponized D9 killed Rachel Corrie,3 a U.S. citizen, as she was nonviolently defending a Palestinian home in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Despite many efforts by human rights defenders and faith-based communities to engage Caterpillar on these issues, it has failed to practice due diligence in how its products are used by the Israeli military, thus failing to abide by international law and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza,4 and other non-governmental organizations have scrupulously documented Israel’s repeated violations of Palestinian human rights, among them: the use of excessive or lethal force to subdue nonviolent demonstrations; ill-treatment and torture of detainees; home demolitions and forced eviction of families; punitive arrests; unfair trials; and draconian restrictions on movement. Contravening the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice,5 Israel has built a separation barrier inside the West Bank and continues to expand settlements there.
The Jewish Federation’s Community Relations Council and similar organizations claim to represent Portland’s Jewish community. They do not. Most Jewish institutions are disproportionately funded by a small number of community members who are reluctant to criticize Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. But, “the age of unquestioning support for Israel from American Jews is over.”6 Our history and heritage call upon us to oppose human rights violations wherever they occur, including in Israel and Palestine.
Therefore, we urge the City of Portland to place Caterpillar, Inc. on its Do-Not-Buy list due to its many violations of the city’s Socially Responsible Investments policy, including the policy’s human rights criteria.
- <http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/caterpillar-incs-role-in-human-rights-violations-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territories/><https://www.hrw.org/news/2004/10/28/human-rights-watch-letter-caterpillar-inc> respectively
- <https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/pol10/2552/2016/en/><https://www.hrw.org/middle-east/n-africa/israel/palestine><http://www.btselem.org/><http://pchrgaza.org/en/> respectively.
Stephen D. Auerbach
Joan and Paul Sher