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SEATTLE DIVEST FROM ISRAELI MILITARY OCCUPATION
The Palestine Solidarity Committee and a large group of community organizations call on the Seattle City Council to divest its pension fund of corporations that are supplying the Israeli government with products used as war materials.
Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace, independence and security. If we want peace and justice in Israel/Palestine, we must support both Israeli and Palestinian claims to statehood and self-determination. We must also penetrate the veil of misinformation that surrounds this conflict, misrepresenting it as a religious war, an ancient conflict, or a battle between two equal sides. It is not an equal battle. One side has power over the other, and has imposed a military occupation for almost 40 years. We currently have municipal public funds invested in companies that support that military occupation, and the time has come for that to end.
The call for divestment from companies that supply Israel with weapons is not the same as a call to boycott Israel or divest from Israeli corporations. It is an attempt to call the Seattle City Council to account for what a significant part of the population considers inappropriate investment policies.
Background: The Occupation
Since 1967, over three million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have lived in a state of apartheid under Israeli military occupation. Under occupation, Palestinians are deprived of their freedom of speech, assembly, and movement. They have no right to vote for the Israeli government, which still controls their lives. They can be arrested and imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial. They are routinely subject to torture in prison. Israeli soldiers and civilians attack and murder them with relative impunity. According to the US State Department's Country Reports, the Israeli army targets civilians even when soldiers are not in imminent danger.
The recent removal of Israeli settlements from Gaza leaves the Gaza Strip in a state of siege. Israel remains in control of Gaza’s water, airspace, borders, and electrical grid. Israel continues to move illegal settlers into the West Bank, illegally confiscating Palestinian land to accommodate them. The Israeli army has also declared a "no man's land" strip along the Gazan border with Israel under which anyone -- farmers, schoolchildren, and other civilians -- may come under attack at any time. The army has continued to subject parts of Gaza to fierce bombing attacks, during which many people have been killed. Also, Israel continues to move illegal settlers into the West Bank, illegally confiscating Palestinian land to accommodate them.
No peace talks have offered Palestinians independence. No peace talks have stopped Israel from continuing to build settlements for Israeli citizens inside the Occupied Territories. Since 2002 Israel has been creating a new border in the form of a "separation wall" that effectively confiscates valuable portions of Palestinian land. Several Israeli generals have agreed that the settlements serve no purpose for the defense or security of Israel. As former President Jimmy Carter has observed, this ongoing process of colonizing occupied land for an Israeli population is an egregious and destabilizing obstacle to peace in the region. Our political and financial support of these activities only makes more violence inevitable.
The military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is illegal under the UN Charter and 4th Geneva Convention, which not only forbid the acquisition of land by force, but also forbid the occupying power from moving its own population into occupied territories. As parties to the Geneva Convention, both the United States and Israel are compelled to “respect and ensure respect for” the Convention. The US therefore has the duty under international law to see that the occupation ends. Under domestic law also, the US should not be supporting the Israeli occupation. Both the US Foreign assistance Act and Arms Export Control Act forbid selling weapons to giving financial support to countries that engage in consistent patterns of gross violations of human rights.
The Israeli military occupation, which denies human rights based on ethnicity, is a moral outrage as well. We would not support torture if it occurred in front of us, and conscience demands that we not support it anywhere. We would not support apartheid in South Africa or in the Jim Crow South of our own country, and conscience demands that we not support it when it happens in Israel/Palestine.
Through its Retirement Pension Funds for city employees, the City of Seattle invests in several corporations that sell military equipment to the Israeli army for use in the occupied Territories. These companies sell equipment used to brutalize and kill people. Our divestment campaign focuses on seven such companies:
• Caterpillar sells armored bulldozers that demolish homes and uproot olive trees.
• United Technologies makes Blackhawk helicopters that attack Palestinian buildings and civilians.
• General Dynamics makes the 20mm guns for F16 jets.
• Boeing sells AH64 Apache Helicopters that kill Palestinian civilians.
• General Electric makes engines for the Apache Helicopters.
• Northrop Grumman makes radars and weapons systems.
• Oshkosh Truck Corporation makes tactical military trucks.
We are not calling for a boycott of all Israeli companies, or of all companies that do business with Israel. Our demand is specific: withdraw financial support from companies that sell equipment to Israel’s military occupation, and send a clear signal that Seattle does not support illegal or immoral actions, at home or abroad.
While any implied criticism of
Israeli policies guarantees an intense response, we believe that the pension
fund violates international laws (Geneva Convention and the U.N. Charter) and
basic moral principles by investing in companies that essentially support the
Israeli government's illegal use of violence against civilians. These
corporations are assisting the Israeli government in its violation of
international laws governing the behavior of an occupying force (see
The City of Seattle’s Retirement Pension Fund has only one mandate for investment: financial responsibility. We support that mandate and believe that fiduciary duty includes ensuring that public funds do not support racism, torture or apartheid. The Israeli Occupation is both illegal and immoral, and we call on the City of Seattle not to use public funds to support acts that shock the conscience
Divestment from Israeli apartheid is not only a moral imperative. It is an opportunity. It is one of many ways we must demand a future built on justice and peace, not only for the peoples of the Middle East but for ourselves as well.
Focus on Caterpillar
The City Council has invested in more than a handful of corporations that are implicated in the provision of war materials to the Israeli government. At present we are choosing to focus on Caterpillar, which has gained notoriety in recent years for its persistence in supplying oversized military-capacity bulldozers to the Israeli government. Caterpillar sells armored bulldozers that are used to demolish homes, uproot olive trees, and construct Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands. These machines are in constant use in a way that brings vast pain and grief to Palestinian civilians. In addition, it was a Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer that was used to kill Rachel Corrie, a native of Olympia, Washington, as she was shielding a civilian residence in Gaza.
A growing movement for divestment
The call to divest from corporations supporting the Israeli occupation has grown considerably in the last few years. On February 6th, 2006, the Church of England voted to disinvest in companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian land. (see http://www.ureader.co.uk/msg/1379228.aspx). In mid-2005, United Methodists in New England and Virginia similarly endorsed campaigns to divest from companies that support the Israeli occupation (see http://www.umc.org/site/c.gjJTJbMUIuE/b.886089/k.A105/Two_United_Methodist_gatherings_urge_selective_divestment_from_Israel.htm)
Previously, in November 2004 the Presbyterian Church (USA) drafted criteria on which to base economic sanctions against certain companies doing business with Israel. (see http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1206/p11s02-lire.html)
Meanwhile, on-campus initiatives for divestment, and some municipal initiatives, have proliferated around the United States and in other countries.
SEATTLE DIVEST FROM ISRAELI APARTHEID
for more information contact Palestine Solidarity Committee
(206) 633-1086 firstname.lastname@example.org
Facts About Some Corporations:
Aircraft Engines have had presence in Israel since 1968. GE Aircraft Engines supports the Israeli Air Force propulsion systems on a long list of aircraft including: F-16 Falcon Fighters, F-4 Phantom fighters, Israel-produced Kfir, CH-53 heavy lift helicopter, AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter and the Sahar 5 gunboat. General Electric parts for HELLFIRE II laser missiles, T- 700 and 70 I C jet engines, and propulsion systems for attack helicopters used in the occupied territories
Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a major arms contractor with Israel and a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation. Sells Israel U.S. armaments used to destroy Palestinian cities and perform political assassinations of Palestinian civilians from the sky. Sold 15 Blackhawk helicopters to Israel in 1997, has contracts for 25 helicopters in 2002. Was charged in 1997 of diverting US aid to Israel into a slush fund for an Israeli Air Force officer. "Our company's relationship of more than 40 years with Israel is a source of pride," said Sikorsky President Dean Borgman in a February 1, 2001 press release while announcing his firm was awarded a $21 1.8 million contract with the Israeli Air Force.
Missile systems. F-15 software. Longbow Fire Control radar: Apache Helicopters, Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) a guided air-to-surface weapon, Boeings Apache Longbow helicopter is the U.S. Army's most advanced attack helicopter. The Apaches are equipped with the Hellfire missile system, produced by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control in Orlando. Fla. One of these missiles killed local Palestinian leader Hussein Abayat along with two women standing nearby, in the second of half of October 2000
Armored D9 bulldozers used for destroying Palestinian homes in Jenin and elsewhere. In Jenin at least 140 buildings were completely leveled--many of them multi-family dwellings--while over 200 others were severely damaged, leaving an estimated 4,000 people, more than a quarter of the camp's population, homeless. During one of Israel's home demolition campaigns (morbidly entitled "Operation Enjoyable Song") more than 32 shelters, housing some 400 people, were demolished April 11, 2001.
Approximately one thousand M60A3 Main Battle Tanks, originally manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, were supplied to Israel. General Dynamics Armament Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), has been awarded contract from the U.S. Army for the production of 44 Reactive Armor vehicle sets under a licensing agreement with Rafael Armament Development Authority of Haifa. Sells the Fl6 Fighting Falcon Jets to Israel. Fl6 is capable of Mach 2+, can be armed with three-barrel cannon with 515 rounds; up to 9,276 kilograms (20,450 pounds) of ordinance including: nuclear weapons, ASMs, AAMs, anti-radar missiles, anti-ship missiles, free-fall or guided bombs, cluster bombs, dispenser weapons, rocket launchers, napalm tanks, drop tanks and ECM pods, carried on nine external hardpoints.
Has launched a bid to acquire TRW Systems in a hostile takeover that could cost $6 billion. TRW is the prime contractor of the Tactical High Energy Laser in a joint U.S. project with Israel. Northrop is the manufacturer of the Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle, which is being examined by Israel in a joint venture for its missile defense efforts. Northrop makes warships for Israel such the SA' AR 5 Multi-Mission Corvette loaded with Hoeing Harpoon surface to air missiles with a warhead of227 KG and the HARAK anti-air missile system
OSHKOSH TRUCK CORPORATION : Supplies Mobility Tactical Trucks to Israeli Military
MORE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES:
These websites have flyers and other resources, including fact sheets and flyers
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation Divestment Resources: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?list=type&type=28
Focusing on Caterpillar bulldozers, this site contains information on how to start a campaign, divestment resources, and an activist kit.
Global Exchange ~ Divestment and Boycott:http://www.globalexchange.org/countries/palestine/divestmentfaq.html
Includes answers to difficult questions about divestment and boycotting and flyers.
For a list of companies with investments in Israel: http://www.globalexchange.org/countries/palestine/usinvestments.html
Somerville Divestment Project ~ Building Moral Pressure Towards Justice: http://www.divestmentproject.org
University of Wisconsin Divest From Israel Campaign Pressures Regents to Divest at Public Forum: http://www.rense.com/general68/divest.htm
National Lawyers Guild Divestment: http://www.nlg.org/mideast/resolutions/resolutions.shtml
Jewish Voices for Peace: http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions: www.icahd.org