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Home  » Learn More  » The World Reacts   »  Palestine solidarity activists ...

Palestine solidarity activists target Caterpillar in Memphisby Omar Baddar, SUSTAIN-MemphisNews and Letters
April 1st, 2004

Memphis--A delegation representing the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, SUSTAIN-Memphis, and the Muslim Society of Memphis visited Thompson Machinery (the largest distributor of Caterpillar equipment in the Mid-South) on March 19. We informed the general manager that a large community in Memphis is concerned about the Israeli, Palestinian, and international innocent victims of violence, and presented our demands that Caterpillar stop selling its equipment to the Israeli military and issue a statement explaining the reason.

Caterpillar corporation has been a target for activists around the U.S. for a few years now. This is because Caterpillar is selling equipment to the Israeli military, which uses it to commit crimes against the Palestinian people. Grassroots direct creative action has taken place at dozens of Caterpillar offices all over the U.S.

Since the Israeli illegal military occupation of Palestinian land began in 1967, Israel has uprooted hundreds of thousands of Palestinian olive trees, and demolished approximately 12,000 Palestinian homes using Caterpillar equipment, leaving well over 50,000 people homeless. Acts of collective punishment committed by an occupying force against a civilian population, such as home demolitions are explicitly prohibited by the Geneva convention and international law. In many cases, homes were razed while families were still in them, killing adults and children. In April of 2002, the Israeli military used D9 Caterpillars to flatten an entire neighborhood in Jenin.

Most recent is the Israeli government’s construction of the Apartheid barrier--the so-called "security fence"--using Caterpillar equipment. The wall doesn’t only separate Israel from Palestinian land, but runs through the occupied territories including as many illegal Israeli settlements and water sources on the Israeli side as possible. When finished, it will leave the Palestinians with less than 50% of the West Bank, surround entire cities like Qalqilya, and separate Palestinians from their farm lands, relatives and friends, children from their schools etc. Israeli and Palestinian peace activists have come together to wage a powerful campaign against the construction of the racist barrier. Daily protests take place on both sides of the barrier, including international activists as well.

The most outrageous Caterpillar havoc for many in the U.S. was the March 26, 2003 murder of 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie by the Israeli army using a D9 Caterpillar bulldozer. While she was participating in non-violent protest, the bulldozer deliberately ran over her twice. Her death gave us one more reason why we need to stop this brutality.

The outrage against Caterpillar’s continuous cooperation with the Israeli military is growing. Jewish Voice For Peace, Along with SUSTAIN (Stop U.S. Tax-funded Aid to Israel NOW), the U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation, and Progressive Portal came together to build a global movement.

Omar Baddar, SUSTAIN-Memphis

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