This speech was given to the Caterpillar Corporation’s CEO, their board of directors, and top management at the annual Caterpillar shareholder’s meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas on June 8, 2011.
The speech was given on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace, which had purchased shares of Caterpillar stock so we could offer a shareholder proposal and make a speech in support of it.
Our shareholder proposal urged Caterpillar to review its policies related to human rights and to conform more fully with international human rights standards. Our proposal was endorsed many shareholders, including the Catholic Sisters of Loretto, and a coalition of other religious organizations. The proposal can be read at this link (PDF, look for Proposal 11):
Although our proposal did not pass, it received 21% of the votes, which is considered a high number for a proposal that was opposed by the company management.
Caterpillar shareholder speech in favor of Proposal 11
By Russ Greenleaf, on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace
June 8, 2011
Little Rock, Arkansas
Hi. I’m Russ Greenleaf, a shareholder with Jewish Voice for Peace and a coalition of religious organizations, speaking in favor of Proposal 11.
I am Jewish. I am not anti-Israel. I have friends in Israel, and I want what’s best for them.
Caterpillar’s sale of D9 bulldozers to Israel is not good for Israel or for Caterpillar’s reputation. Israel’s routine use of those D9’s to destroy the homes of innocent Palestinian’s is making Israel a pariah in the world and destroying any chance for peace.
Amnesty International says, and I quote:
House demolitions usually are carried out without warning, often at night, and the occupants are given little or no time to leave their homes. Often the only warning they get is the rumbling of the Israeli army’s Caterpillar bulldozers. They barely have time to flee as the bulldozers tear down the walls of their homes.
Sometimes they are buried alive under the rubble.
An Israeli newspaper reported that an Israeli army D9 dozer operator said, and I quote:
I had no mercy for anybody. I would erase anyone with the D9. They were warned by loudspeaker to get out of the house before I came, but I gave no one a chance. I didn’t wait. I didn’t give one blow and wait for them to come out. I would just ram the house with full power, to bring it down as fast as possible.
Ladies and gentlemen these are very serious human rights violations, and they happen again and again — with our knowledge.
The Israeli army says, quote: “The D9 is a strategic weapon here.”
Fellow shareholders, our product has become Israel’s weapon of choice for ethnic cleansing and potentially even war crimes. Israel knows it, and the world knows it. Yet our management buries its head in the sand when dealing with human rights. They say, quote:
“It is not clear what is meant by the Company’s ‘policies related to human rights.’ “
That is exactly why we need proposal 11 – a call to review Caterpillar’s policies related to human rights and to conform more fully with human rights standards.
In the video we just saw, a Caterpillar representative said, “Our brand – our name – has high expectations. I think we should exceed high expectations.”
Caterpillar makes very little money from selling these military D9’s to Israel, but the cost to Caterpillar’s reputation is enormous, and escalating. It’s time to call a halt. Passing proposal 11 is a very modest first step in that direction. It’s long overdue.
I move proposal 11. Please vote for it. Thank you.