June 21, 2012- Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF has removed Caterpillar, Inc. from its Social Choice Funds portfolio. As of May 1, 2012, financial data posted on TIAA-CREF’s website valued Social Choice Funds shares in Caterpillar at $72,943,861. Today it is zero.
“We applaud this decision,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise, Director of Campaigns at Jewish Voice for Peace and National Coordinator of the We Divest Campaign (www.wedivest.org). “It’s long past time that TIAA-CREF began living up to its motto of ‘Financial Services for the Greater Good’ when it comes to the people of Israel and Palestine.”
Since 2010, We Divest has been urging TIAA-CREF to drop Caterpillar and other companies profiting from and facilitating Israel’s 45-year-old military occupation and colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.
“By selling weaponized bulldozers to Israel, Caterpillar is complicit in Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights,” said Rabbi Wise. “We’re glad to see that the socially responsible investment community appears to be recognizing this and is starting to take appropriate action.”
Caterpillar has come under increasing criticism from human rights organizations in recent years for continuing to supply bulldozers to Israel, which uses them to demolish Palestinian civilian homes and destroy crops and agricultural land in the occupied territories, and to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.
In the coming weeks, many will be watching the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly taking place in Pittsburgh, where church commissioners will vote on a motion to divest from Caterpillar and two other companies, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard, that remain in TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds.
Last month, Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker institution, divested $900,000 worth of shares in Caterpillar stating: “We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock.” more
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A six-year-old boy was killed and seven others wounded as Israeli forces targeted areas in southern and northern Gaza on Saturday, medical officials said.
Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said Muatazz al-Sawwaf, 6, was killed and three others injured, one seriously, by an Israeli air strike in the Abasan neighborhood east of Khan Younis.
Meanwhile, three people were wounded in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza, when Israeli forces opened fire at farmers tending their land, witnesses said.
Explosions were also reported in Gaza City and Rafah, witnesses said. Hamas medical officials said a baby was wounded in an attack in Rafah, at the Egypt border.
An Israeli military spokeswoman, commenting on the boy's death, said: "an initial examination shows the military was not involved in this incident." She had no immediate comment on the report about the baby. more IMEMC reports 19 wounded in Saturday morning air raids.
By Ali Abunimah co founder of The Electronic Intifada
The Israeli government is launching a new international propaganda campaign, featuring ads on CNN International, that seeks to brand Israel as a haven of green technologies and environmentalism.
But don’t expect the campaign to talk about the environmental catastrophes brought about by Israeli occupation and apartheid.
The campaign, which includes sponsorship of CNN International’s world weather bulletins, is being launched to coincide with the UN’s Rio +20 Summit on Sustainable Development....
Some of the things the Green Israel ad campaign is unlikely to talk about:
According to the OECD, Israeli “water quality” is ranked 35 out of 36 countries, better only than the Russian Federation. Israel’s water score “is much lower than the OECD average” according to the OECD, “and suggests Israel still faces difficulties in providing good quality water to its inhabitants.”
Similar problems face air quality: Israel is ranked 27 out of 36 for harmful particulate matter in the air and, “Particulate matter and ground-level ozone concentrations frequently exceed limit values for the protection of human health.”
Because of Israeli discrimination, Palestinians face severe shortages of water, a report from Amnesty International found. Palestinians are systematically denied water for basic needs, and hundreds of thousands don’t even have running water. Israel hogs 80 percent of the water from the West Bank’s main aquifer, while allowing Palestinians a mere 20 percent. In the West Bank, 450,000 settlers use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.
The fact that 95 percent of Gaza’s water is unfit for human consumption due to Israel’s siege and military attacks, and the use of desalination technology as a means to further isolate Gaza.
The frequent contamination of Palestinian villages by flows of raw sewage from Israeli settlements; more