|Activists protest CAT bulldozer use by Israel|
Firm claims no legal right to police use of equipment
by Sara Withee, Milford Daily News
March 17th, 2005
|MILFORD -- Activists protesting the death of a young woman who lost her life while trying to stop the Israeli military from bulldozing a Palestinian home brought their message to Quarry Drive yesterday.|
The group of 40 staged a two-hour rally near the entrance of Milton CAT, which sells products by Caterpillar, the Illinois-based maker of the bulldozers the Israeli military uses to level homes.
The group handed a Milton CAT representative a letter at the end of the company's driveway yesterday while Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin and several officers stood by. No problems were reported.
The Milton CAT representative released a statement from Caterpillar that said the company shares the world's concern about the Middle East situation, but that it has neither the legal right nor the means to police use of its equipment.
The members of the BootCat Chapter of the Boston Committee for Palestinian Rights and Boston to Palestine support group for the International Solidarity Movement vowed to return each Saturday until April 13, when Caterpillar holds its annual meeting in Chicago. Shareholders are expected to consider a resolution stating Caterpillar is violating its code of ethics with sales to Israel for demolitions.
Yesterday's rally marked the second anniversary of Rachel Corrie's death. The 23-year-old human rights worker from Washington state was killed when she stood in front of a Palestinian home and tried to block the Israeli military from demolishing it with a Caterpillar D9 bulldozer.
Activists have long called for a U.S. investigation into Corrie's death and earlier this week, a lawsuit was filed against Caterpillar on her parents' behalf in U.S. District Court.
Yesterday, Jeff Halper, of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, told the group the Caterpillar's D9 bulldozers are larger than those commonly seen on United States soil.
"It's a powerful machine that's specifically designed to demolish Palestinian homes," Halper said. "That's its only function."
Halper said Corrie believed peace overseas is as important as peace at home and wondered why the United States didn't intervene.
"This wasn't a conflict far away, but in a part of the world she lived in and simply as a part of the world, she felt the need to act," Halper said.
The group shared some of Corrie's writings and Halper said Corrie was right to call the Israeli government's action "genocide," because demolishing homes strips the Palestinian people of themselves.
"It also talks about destroying their identity and their cultural heritage," Halper said. "In other words, the whole point of human rights is based on human dignity."
Israel has knocked down at least 12,000 homes since 1967, according to Halper's organization. Building permits are hard for Palestinians to obtain, making the ongoing destruction even more painful, said Ridgely Fuller, 55, of Sherborn.
"It's the destruction of someone's home and to have to sit there and watch it, it's very painful," she said.
Kathy Roberts, 65, of Cambridge, said visiting Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon shows the toll of the decades of war -- and even acceptance from the Palestinian people.
"All I had heard about was the violence before," Roberts said. "What I came away with was how peaceful these people are to be living with these conditions."
Roberts said Corrie's story adds to an already desperate situation.
"I was an activist at her age and I brought up my children to be activists and it really brought it home," Roberts said. "I was really shaken and knew that I had to do more than just sign petitions."
( Sara Withee can be reached at 508-634-7546 or email@example.com. )