FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Caterpillar Should Do the Right Thing, Now

by ELIZABETH W. CORRIE

Unable to sleep, I decided to write. For the past week, my email box has been flooded with desperate pleas for help from the people in Rafah, a Palestinian village on the border with Egypt. Since last week, the Israeli Army has relentlessly hammered the people of Rafah, destroying over 100 hundred homes, leaving at least 1000 civilians homeless. The image of these people, standing by helplessly as they watch their walls and roofs cave in under the pressure of the armored, D-9 and D-10 American made Caterpillar bulldozers–supplied to the Israeli army by the US government–has destroyed my sleep.

This image would make anyone of conscience sleepless, but it makes me sleepless because I cannot stop thinking about the horror my cousin Rachel Corrie would have felt witnessing this attack. Rachel worked in Rafah. Undoubtedly, she knew some of the people killed, wounded and/or made homeless by this latest attack. Rachel died in Rafah. She herself fell victim to the crushing blade of the bulldozer, the driver so intent on destroying a home that he had to destroy human life to do so.

When I pointedly mention that Caterpillar manufactured the bulldozer used to kill Rachel, I am sometimes asked whether it is reasonable to suggest that Caterpillar bears some responsibility for Rachel’s death, and for the deaths and homelessness of Palestinians. I concede that, legally, it is difficult to make this case. Morally, however, it is not, and it is to the consciences of the people who manage, work for, and invest in Caterpillar that I appeal.

If Rachel’s death, underreported as it was, did not make clear the inappropriate use of Caterpillar’s products, surely the current attack on Rafah–so egregious that even members of the Bush Administration have stepped out of its typically unquestioning support of Israeli policy to express concern–should have driven this point home. The Israeli Army takes Caterpillar bulldozers, armors them, and uses them to inflict collective punishment on Palestinian civilians, in violation of international law. More to the point, it does so in violation of Caterpillar’s own published policy of social responsibility, which states that its “commitment to financial success must also take into account social, economic, political and environmental priorities,” a policy guided by “high ethical standards” that seek to guarantee its “reputation for integrity.”

Is Caterpillar legally responsible for the way Israel perverts its bulldozers from tools of construction into weapons of destruction? Maybe not. Does it have a moral responsibility, as outlined in its own system of values, to investigate how its products are used and to preserve its “reputation for integrity” by holding its clients accountable to the same standard it holds for itself? Yes. Caterpillar should take seriously the request put forth in its stockholders’ meeting last month to look into Israel’s usage of its products, and, when it discovers incontrovertibly what seems obvious from the current reports that its products are in fact weapons and not tools, it should cease its sales until Israel complies with international law and the Caterpillar social responsibility policy. It should do this, not because it is good business practice–although retrieving the good name of Caterpillar from its association with war crimes is surely good business practice–but because it is the right thing to do.

Caterpillar has the opportunity to put teeth to its own commitment to social responsibility. It has a chance to demonstrate integrity, courage and compassion. We should support it in doing so, thereby demonstrating our own integrity, courage and compassion. And, we should waste no time–the people of Rafah are waiting.

Elizabeth Corrie has a PhD in religion and is the cousin of Rachel Corrie. She can be reached at: corrie@counterpunch.org

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail