Marking the meeting of Caterpillar shareholders on Wednesday 13th April, activists have held a series of over 30 protests spanning the globe making it clear that the consumer boycott and divestment campaign of Caterpillar is well under way. As part of a comprehensive movement to Isolate Apartheid Israel, such campaigns allow global activism to focus its energies and bring about concrete results against companies involved in international complicity with Israel, And while Caterpillar has formed one such campaign, as it forms a potent symbol of Israelâs vicious occupation and racist colonization, it is one of many tactics within various boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns to isolate, and apply pressure to, Apartheid Israel.
In this spirit demonstrators from San Francisco to South Africa highlighted the critical role Caterpillar plays in arming the Occupation Forces in their brutal and illegal occupation of Palestinians. It came as Caterpillar shareholders met in New York to debate a resolution which would have launched an investigation into the use of its bulldozers by the Occupation Forces. It narrowly fell below the votes required for the motion to be taken further, but left activists even more determined to target Caterpillar for its support in the destruction and brutality caused by the Occupation Forces against the Palestinian people.
The Caterkiller machines of death play a vital role in the construction of the Apartheid Wall, part of the Zionist project to annex 46% of the West Bank to ensure Israelâs continuous expansion. In the last 4 and a half years Caterpillar bulldozers have razed over one million olive trees, destroyed more than 7000 homes and murdered dozens of people trying to defend their lands and homes. Others were simply killed in their homes by Caterkiller machinery involved in house demolitions which occurred without any warning. The Occupation Forces were armed in these exercises of destruction with Caterpillar machinery, purchased from the USA, such as the D-9 model, weighing around 64 tons and armed with killer blades.
Demonstrations denounced Caterpillars complicity and support for the Occupation Forces with rallies across the world. Here are just a few of the activities which have taken place over the last week:
On 16th April protestors from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) mobilized around the slogan âStop the Disgrace Called Caterpillar!â, in a lively down-town demonstration next to Caterpillarâs Head-Offices.
Activists from across the UK, some traveling from as far as Wales and Exeter, came together for the event reflecting a new national momentum in the drive to boycott Caterpillar goods.
A motorcade of more than 60 vehicles met at 11 am and drove to the Caterpillar offices. It included a colourful open-top coach decorated with banners and placards. They arrived to join demonstrators who had already gathered in a noisy protest against the company. Speeches denounced the Occupation and Caterpillarâs direct assistance to Apartheid Israel. Campaigners vowed to intensify the boycott of Caterpillar in the UK where its branded merchandise is a trade worth tens of millions. Locals responded to the event with thumbs-up, whilst passing cars honked in support.
The worldâs first call to declare a city a âCaterpillar Free Zoneâ has been achieved in Limerick. The Irish PSC has put a motion forward to the city council which includes the banning of machinery within Council work and a âvoluntary banâ targeting all traders within Limerick who sell Caterpillar merchandise. While the city council is taking time to consider their response to the motion, activists are relentlessly campaigning and mobilizing around the issue.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Marking the International Day of Action Against Caterpillar, the advocacy group Media Review Network published an Open Letter to all Caterpillar dealerships. They denounced the company for its ârole in war crimesâ.
Alongside Palestinian solidarity activists, a consumer boycott of Caterpillar is underway in South Africa and is set to be marked in a series of promotional activities over the coming months.
On Wednesday the 13th of April, activists organized a lively protest by driving a Caterpillar bulldozer through the streets. Organized by Palestinian solidarity activists and advocacy group War on Want, the protest was joined by Cindy Corrie whose daughter Rachel (along with dozens of Palestinians) was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer in the Gaza Strip.
They spent the morning asking store managers of major retailers Clarks, River Island, Debenhams, Schuh and Barratts to make a stand against corporate complicity by de-listing Caterpillar products.
In Manhattan activists marked the International Day of Action Against Caterpillar in a protest outside of the Manhattan office of Caterpillar Board member Gail Fosler. Chanting and holding large photos of CAT bulldozers demolishing Palestinian homes, activists handed out hundreds of flyers to passers-by and lobbied for the company to launch an investigation into the use of its equipment by the Occupation Forces.
Catterkiller â Merchants of Death
Visitors to Caterpillarâs website are greeted by the claim that: âOur goal is to be recognized as a profitable, innovative, well-managed industry leader with a strong focus on social responsibility and sustaining the environment.â However, purchase of Caterpillar machinery has been a vital tool in the death and destruction caused by Occupation Forces, who have continually disregarded international law. Activists have vowed to confront Caterpillarâs hypocrisy and complicity for the Occupation with head-on boycotts and actions.
Caterpillarâs shares have plunged over the last week, a result of the publicity of the consumer boycott. This reflects one of the first moves in a broader global movement to initiate forms of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Apartheid Israel, in order to provide concrete support for the Palestinian struggle. Through such tactics and efforts, solidarity activists can find the means to provide the support necessary for Palestinians who continue to resist the destructive Occupation Forces and their Apartheid Wall on a daily basis.