October 2003 Report
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Tell Caterpillar: Stop selling bulldozers
to the Israeli military for destroying
Palestinian homes and orchards

Friday, 10 October 2003
Dear friend:
Sunday evening, as I was walking home from services on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement and forgiveness, my eye was drawn skyward toward Mars, the angry red planet named for the Roman god of war. I thought about the science programs I had watched just the previous evening, explaining how the Earth is exactly the right distance from the Sun to sustain life as we know it, and detailing the astounding system employed by our eyes and brains to let us see.
And I thought about the terrible news from the Middle East. On the eve of Yom Kippur, a Palestinian lawyer, who had recently lost her brothers to the hostilities with Israel, blew herself up in a crowded diner co-owned by Israelis and Palestinians, killing herself, 14 Israelis, and 5 Palestinians. In response, Israel bombed an alleged terrorism training camp (long abandoned, according to locals there) deep inside Syria.
When one considers the incredible fragility of life on Earth, and the miraculous complexity and beauty of the human being, it seems utterly blasphemous that we oppress and kill each other.
Mars, god of war, is indeed busy these days. But so are we, champions of justice and peace. Today I write to ask one small action of you. Please send a letter to Caterpillar Company urging it to stop selling bulldozers to Israel's military for demolishing Palestinian homes and lives:
We have joined with Jewish Voice for Peace and a coalition of human-rights groups in a multi-pronged campaign to get Cat out of the business of wanton violation of international law and human decency.
Please send your letter today.
According to the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, the army has demolished almost 9,000 Palestinian homes since 1967, leaving 50,000 homeless. More than 200,000 olive trees have been uprooted, according to the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry. (As it happens, Mars is also the god of agriculture.) And on March 16 of this year, a Caterpillar bulldozer crushed and killed U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie as she peacefully tried to prevent the bulldozing of a home in the Gaza Strip.
These practices have been condemned by human-rights groups in Israel and throughout the world, including Amnesty International. And even the Bush Administration says Israel is going too far in building -- with Caterpillar equipment -- an "apartheid wall" that will annex vast areas that don't belong to Israel.
So, it's time for us to speak up.
Will our efforts lead to peace in our lifetimes? These days, everything seems to be going in the opposite direction. But how many of us believed, until it happened, that South Africa would become free, with Nelson Mandela as its first president and a Truth and Reconcilation Commission dispensing absolution and forgiveness instead of revenge? It was just an impossible dream -- then one day it was reality. South Africa taught us that change can come, sometimes rapidly, if we continue to hold out hope and work persistently toward that goal.
Please join us in taking a step today. Tell Caterpillar to disengage from the devastation, to live up to the company's own Code of Conduct.
Thank you in advance for taking action.
Steve Freedkin
P.S. Want more action opportunities? We offer many:
1. First, please send a letter telling Caterpillar to stop
   participating in the bulldozing of Palestinian homes,
   orchards, and lives.
2. Send ActionGRAMs to defend civil liberties.
   ActionGRAMs resemble telegrams, but the fee is just
   a fraction of a telegram's cost.
3. Send ActionGRAMs opposing the continuing,
   chaotic occupation of Iraq.

4. Act on other progressive issues --
   a new alert almost every day:
   Action Alerts Column
   Letter Writing on Progressive Portal
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