The Anti-Semitic Caterpillar


sunburst graphic In continuation with the Caterrorpillar Chronicles here at Black Iris, there is an interesting article at the Electronic Intifada by Dane Baker, in which he accounts for media and press reaction to the selling of Caterpillars to the IOF. In specific the lack of integrity and objectivity of publications such as the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe.

From the LA Times Editorial:

Teresa Watanabe reports on a Caterpillar stockholder resolution protesting sales to Israel and lead by “four Roman Catholic orders of nuns” and the California group Jewish Voices for Peace. Lest you think Jewish and Roman Catholic support for Palestinian liberation is widespread, Watanabe quickly cites “several” Jewish organizations that are leading a “counter-campaign” against the resolution, saying it is “part of a broader movement that unfairly singles out” the occupier Israel” without holding Palestinians accountable for terrorism and other actions that have stymied the peace process.”

As for the Boston Globe:

The Globe cites a Consulate General spokeswoman’s comment that in the face of a halt to razings, continuing to protest “proves that these activists are merely opposing Israel’s policies out of habit and vendetta”, presumably an implication of racism against Jews, joining the common refrain in such matters and offered without comment here. Paragraphs later we learn that although razings have officially stopped, “Israel deems that other conditions, including illegal building, nonownership of land, and criminal reasons, could warrant the demolition of a house.” The implications being what they are, we’re left with a distinct impression that Israel does what it likes in the Occupied Territories, and anyone who dares to protest such activities are naturally anti-Semites, and should be dismissed with repugnance.

There is also a response to the “head-in-sand” philosophy of the CAT corporation in which it said last Wednesday (that it had) “neither the legal right nor the means to police individual use”. The following is an excerpt from the EI article:

Perhaps forgotten is a Human Rights Watch report published last November that refutes Caterpillar’s “head-in-the-sand” statement, which “ignores international standards on corporate social responsibility and the requirements of Caterpillar’s own code of conduct.”[2] HRW cites a new United Nations “document”, called the U.N. Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights, which says that corporations like Caterpillar “engage in or benefit from” human rights violations and calling on corporations to “seek to ensure that the goods and services they provide will not be used to abuse human rights.”

The HRW report notes that Caterpillar makes the IDF bulldozer of choice, the D9 model, “to military specifications” and sells them “as weapons under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales Program, a government-to-government program for selling U.S.-made defense equipment.” The report also cites other uses of D9 such as using “a blade on the bulldozer’s back known as ‘the ripper'” to destroy “more than 50 percent of Rafah’s roads” and damage “more than 40 miles of water and sewage pipes.” Human Rights Watch also reports the death of 3 Palestinians under the blade of the bulldozer during the last two years “because they could not flee their homes in time.”

Baker ends on a most interesting point, noting in response to the “anti-Semite” claims of these publications:

And where, one wonders, are the concerns of “anti-Arabism” in press accounts? I doubt such a phrase even exists among the U.S. press, who prefer to grimly note the “rekindled” hatred of Jews while ignoring daily accounts, widely reported in Israeli press and other sources, of Palestinian death and destruction at the hands of Israeli occupiers.

It appears that even in the United States where freedom of speech is a constitutional right, you have the freedom to criticize the policies of any state or corporation, EXCEPT if that state turns out to be Israel and that corporation is one supplying Israel. At which point you are no longer exercising freedom of speech you are inciting hate-speech; you are essentially anti-Semitic. This label is not by any standards a soft-spoken one; it carries the implications that you should shave your head and tattoo a swastika on your arm.

Zionism (a political ideology) is so entwined with Judaism (a religion) that to be critical of one is to be critical of the other. The question which remains is, where does one stop and the other begin?

In the end, Palestinians have no need to worry about the integrity of the Caterpillar corporation, in its on-going commitment to providing the best equipment to…urr…renovate their homes…?

Palestinians flee from a Caterpillar D-9 demolishing a home in Rafah, 2004. (Photo: Khalil Hamra)

Posted In: Caterrorpillar Chronicles
Posted In: Palestine

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