Two major victories against Caterpillar, Inc. have occurred in the past few days. Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) removed Caterpillar from its World Socially Responsible Index, a list that socially responsible investment (SRI) funds use to determine their investments.
Because of this, TIAA-CREF quickly divested its socially responsible fund, the Social Choice Fund, of the Caterpillar stock held, worth over 73 million dollars. This follows word of $900,000 of Caterpillar stock dumped by the Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC), the financial arm of the Quakers, barely a month ago.
These major developments occur just days before the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A, a national meeting in Pittsburgh to begin later this month, where commissioners from across the U.S. will vote on a proposal to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard because of their continuing involvement in the Israeli occupation. The Rachel Corrie Foundation fully supports efforts to hold Caterpillar Inc. accountable for its complicity in Israeli crimes – the demolition of Palestinian homes, the construction of the Separation Barrier in the West Bank, and the use of Caterpillar equipment as a weapon against unarmed civilians. It was a Caterpillar weaponized bulldozer operated by the Israeli military that killed Rachel Corrie, as she attempted to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza.
While celebrating this victory, there is much work to do. The We Divest campaign, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee, calls for TIAA-CREF to divest all of its funds from Caterpillar and other companies which profit from violations of Palestinian human rights. Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions must not be confined solely to the relatively small realm of socially responsible investment funds. Instead, we aim to end support for Israeli impunity from all quarters and refuse to profit from it in all of our investments.