Portland’s Socially Responsible Investments Committee Recommends Putting Caterpillar on City’s Do-Not-Buy List

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March 17, 2016    
For Immediate Release                                       
Portland’s Socially Responsible Investments Committee (SRIC) voted – 4 in favor, 2 opposed – at its March 17th meeting to recommend that City funds should not be invested in Caterpillar, citing concern that Caterpillar Corporation violates a number of the City’s socially responsible investment criteria.
Caterpillar, which provides militarized bulldozers that are used to demolish Palestinian homes, has long been a target of human rights activists. Maxine Fookson, from Occupation-Free Portland, which pushed for Caterpillar to be placed on the Do-Not-Buy List, said “This is an important victory for human rights.  The SRIC today took a stand on the right side of history making it clear that companies, like Caterpillar, that are knowingly engaged in human rights violations in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land should not be supported by Portland investments.”
The SRIC’s recommendation was based on review of an MSCI analysis which rates companies for their investment potential and includes a screen that looks at environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns.  In addition, the SRIC heard powerful testimony at their February meeting from supporters of Occupation-Free Portland, a campaign committed to getting Caterpillar, G4S, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions placed on Portland’s Do-Not-Buy List for their complicity in – and profiting from – the many human rights violations that are part of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.
Occupation-Free Portland spokesperson Peter Miller remarked, “The SRIC did the right thing because Caterpillar builds militarized bulldozers for the Israeli Defense Forces that are designed specifically to demolish Palestinian homes and tear up infrastructure (roads, sewage, electricity, water, and telecommunication cables) in Israeli-occupied Palestinian cities.  Caterpillar’s actions are human rights violations.  Our goal is to become an occupation-free city by not investing in companies like Caterpillar with horrible records on human rights.”
The SRIC is made up of seven citizens appointed by Portland’s City Council who are charged with implementing a socially responsible investment resolution passed in December 2014.  That resolution lists seven criteria - from environmental impacts to human rights violations -that need to be considered in determining which corporations should be included in Portland’s investment portfolio.
Later this year, the SRIC will recommend to the City Council a list of corporations that should be on Portland’s Do-Not-Buy List. Members of the City Council will consider the SRIC recommendations and make the final decision in this matter.
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Portland Human Rights Commission Endorses Occupation-Free Portland

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Portland Human Rights Commision
October 29, 2015
For Immediate Release
City of Portland Human Rights Commission Endorses Occupation-Free Portland’s Proposed Statement to the Socially Responsive Investments Committee
PORTLAND - On October 7, 2015, the Portland Human Rights Commission (HRC) unanimously voted to support Occupation-Free Portland’s request to the City’s Socially Responsible Investments committee (SRI) to place four U.S. companies on the City’s “Do Not Buy” list: Caterpillar, G4S, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions.
  • As a commission guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, HRC based its decision to endorse Occupation-Free Portland’s letter solely on the four companies’ involvement in human rights violations in Israel and Palestine. This was not an issue relating to religion or nationality, but solely on human rights impacts, and a request to the City of Portland to divest from companies profiting from violent conflict.
  • HRC’s endorsement of the letter was specifically for the Occupation-Free Portland request to be presented to SRI, where that City body would use their process to determine whether the request fits their guidelines for recommendation to Council.
  • The process that led to HRC’s endorsement of the letter began with public testimony at HRC’s September 2, 2015 meeting. After hearing from numerous community members, HRC requested additional information and additional time for review; and communicated to attendees that the commission would hold a vote at the October 7, 2015 meeting. This process allowed Human Rights Commissioners a full month between the time the request was introduced, to the time at which the vote took place.
  • Regardless of any post-meeting renouncements, the unanimous vote stands unless another full-Commission vote takes place.
“Our job as Human Rights Commissioners is to hear and take action on human rights issues,” said Audrey Alverson, HRC vice chair. “This work, by default, is difficult and uncomfortable and often involves push back. We recognize that many issues we are asked to consider are complex and multi-faceted; and as a commission, we work to hold true to our mission of upholding the ideals expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ideal that those rights are endowed to all human beings, regardless of their politics. Our decisions may be unpopular to some or even to the majority, but human rights issues wouldn’t exist if these positions were popular.”
As an all-volunteer advisory body to City of Portland’s elected leaders, the HRC is not charged with making decisions nor declarations on City policy, but rather with advising elected leaders on human rights issues within the city. One avenue through which HRC’s advisory statements and endorsements are informed is by receiving community input in a variety of forums, including regularly scheduled public comment at HRC’s monthly meetings.
The HRC works to eliminate discrimination and bigotry, to strengthen inter-group relationships, and to foster greater understanding, inclusion, and justice for those who live, work, study, worship, travel and play in the City of Portland.
For more information, please contact Jeff Selby at jeff.selby@portlandoregon.gov
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421 SW 6th Ave | Suite 500 | Portland, OR 97204

Portland Human Rights Commission endorses placing companies on a “Do Not Buy” list for human rights abuses in Israel/Palestine

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Portland, Oregon's Occupation-Free Portland Coalition congratulates the Portland Human Rights Commission (HRC) for their unanimous endorsement of the coalition’s proposal to the City Of Portland Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) Committee to place four companies on the city’s “Do Not Buy List” due to their serious human rights violations in the ongoing illegal and brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. The companies are Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, G4S, and Motorola Solutions.
The proposal was brought to the HRC by Occupation-Free Portland, a coalition of religious, social justice and human rights groups working for justice for Palestine. The coalition stated: “We applaud the Portland HRC for this action. This endorsement demonstrates that the HRC continues to be a “moral compass” for human rights in our community. They understand that diverse struggles for human rights and dignity are connected and deserve our local attention and commitment to change.”
Occupation-Free Portland is working to encourage city officials to align our municipal investments with values of human rights. Portland’s City Council recently adopted a Socially Responsible Investment policy that establishes “social and values principles” for consideration in the City's investments. One of the principles in the City’s SRI policy is “concerns about impacts on human rights”. If a company is determined to be committing serious human rights violations, citizens can propose that the city’s SRI Committee recommend to the City Council to move our investments out of that company. If no current investment exists, the City would then commit to not make future investments in that company until they amend their practices. In doing this, companies who are profiting from abusive practices will see that their practices are not acceptable to people of good conscience. Occupation-Free Portland’s focus on these four companies’ violations of Palestinian human rights is consistent with Portland’s SRI criteria. Ned Rosch of Jewish Voice for Peace - Portland said "This is a moral first step towards ending the City of Portland's complicity in human rights violations and holding corporations accountable for supporting Israel's illegal occupation."
Occupation-Free Portland will continue to educate the public about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and will take our proposal to the City of Portland SRI Committee to advocate for the City to take this moral stand.
Roles of each of these 4 companies in the Israeli occupation of Palestine:
Caterpillar sells specially manufactured bulldozers (D9 bulldozers) to the Israeli military. They are equipped with armor and weapons and are used to demolish Palestinian homes, entire villages and agricultural land. These bulldozers are weapons of warfare. Many of us who live in the Pacific Northwest remember that a Caterpillar bulldozer killed an Evergreen University student, Rachel Corrie, when she attempted to stop a home demolition in occupied Gaza.
G4S is a global private security firm. In Israel, they provide security services and equipment in prisons where Palestinians are jailed and often tortured. Palestinian prisoners are frequently held in “Administrative Detention” (meaning they have not been charged with a crime, have not had a trial, and are often denied legal representation). Since the year 2000, Defense of Children International reports that over 8000 Palestinian children have been held in Israeli jails. G4S is an integral part of that jail system.
Hewlett-Packard provides identification systems that differentiate by religion and ethnicity between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis. Palestinians are restricted in their movement by their IDs and by H-P monitors at military checkpoints — often preventing them from working, going to school or seeing family members. Like the racist passbooks in Apartheid South Africa, these IDs have a harmful impact on Palestinian life and economic well-being.
Motorola Solutions is profiting from the occupation through providing communication systems to the Israeli military and electronic surveillance systems to the Israeli settlements that are illegally built on Palestinian land.
Occupation-Free Portland is a coalition of groups working for justice for Palestine. Groups in the coalition include Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland Chapter; Friends of Sabeel-North America; Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land; the Wider Church Ministry of the Central Pacific Conference, United Church of Christ; Portland Fellowship of Reconciliation; Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights; Veterans for Peace, Chapter 72; Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights; and the International Socialist Organization.

There's only one week left to ask your Congresspeople to #SkipTheSpeech

Posted by: diana


With only one week to go before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to speak to a joint session of Congress here in the US, the time is now to contact your Congresspeople and remind them to #SkipTheSpeech. Jewish Voice for Peace and others have created an online resource to help you find the contact information of your US Senators and Representative along with a sample script you can turn to in case you feel tongue-tied. Once you have contacted your Congresspeople, make sure you also sign the online petition at SkipTheSpeech.org.

As of today, at least 30 members of Congress have pledged to skip Bibi's speech. Tell yours to join them, and read more from Jewish Voice for Peace here.

An Open Letter to Oregon's Congressional Delegation: Follow the leadership of Rep. Blumenauer and boycott Netanyahu's speech

Posted by: diana

We, the undersigned organizations, commend Oregon’s U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer for asking House Speaker John Boehner to cancel an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Rep. Blumenauer has stated that if the speech is not cancelled, he will refuse to attend. We implore all the members of Congress from Oregon to follow his example.

Our objections to the Netanyahu invitation go beyond the fact that: a.) This invitation is a breach of protocol, b.) It is a stunt timed just prior to a very close Israeli election and c.) It is an attempt by the Republican-controlled Congress to embarrass President Barack Obama.

The most serious objection to the invitation is that Netanyahu is attempting to scuttle negotiations between the United States and Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear program by urging Congress to impose additional sanctions on Iran. As Rep. Blumenauer states, the only solution in the best interests of all countries is a negotiated settlement. Why would Mr. Netanyahu be invited to thwart that effort? World leaders also recognize the danger of his address as interference with the diplomatic process and are also imploring that he not interfere. 

Additional sanctions risk an end to the diplomatic path and an increase in tensions between our country and Iran that may lead to war. As a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran is under routine inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has never documented any evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Iran has called for the Middle East to be a nuclear weapons-free zone. In contrast, Israel has never signed the Nonproliferation Treaty and is known to possess nuclear weapons.

Inviting Netanyahu to address Congress is also reprehensible in view of Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza this past summer. Three respected human rights organizations—Amnesty International and the Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights—have issued reports finding Israel guilty of committing war crimes by deliberately targeting civilians during its 51-day bombardment. Under Netanyahu’s government, Israel has continued unfettered settlement expansion and land confiscation, making a viable Palestinian state impossible. It continues to imprison Palestinians by using administrative detention laws that lack due process. It is unconscionable to invite a leader with such a dismal human rights record to address the U.S. Congress.  

In short, Netanyahu’s speech is not in the best interests of the United States or of world peace. We, the undersigned, urge you to boycott the speech and speak out in opposition to any leader of a foreign nation seeking to intervene in the making of U.S. foreign policy.


Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, Corvallis/Albany Friends of Middle East Peace, Friends of Sabeel North America, Individuals for Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland Chapter, Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, Mission of the Atonement Holy Land Ministry, Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group, Oregon Fellowship of Reconciliation, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Tree of Life Educational Fund-
West Coast, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Corvallis chapter), Veterans for Peace Chapter 72 and Linus Pauling Chapter.

Thoughts on a Cultural Boycot of Israel

Posted by: diana

With the planned Trailblazers game against Maccabi Haifa drawing near, now is a good time to learn and talk about the history and reasoning behind a cultural boycott of Israel. There are many thoughtful pieces to be found on the web about this. Here are just a few:

Liberal Values and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement By Rebecca Vilkomerson

Why Israel Fears the Boycot by Omar Barghouti

Art (and Sport) are not Apolitical from bdsmovement.net

US friends of Israeli army stage fundraisers with NBA teams and NY rabbi by Philip Weiss

This final article has a great call to action from a member of JVP on her way to an organizing meeting:

Tsvia Thier, an Israeli citizen now living in New York… plans to be a part of whatever protest assembles outside the Barclays Center on October 7th. She said to me, “Israel dropped thousands of pounds of weapons on Gaza. More than 2,000 people died. More than 500 children were killed. There has been no justice for this. We cannot allow for these games to go forward without bearing witness…as if these criminal acts did not just take place. Our memories cannot be that short.”

In case you haven't gotten a chance to sign, here is the petition asking the Blazers to cancel their upcoming game.

And if the game goes on as scheduled, you can find information about planned protests here.

One Land Many Voices

Posted by: diana

KBOO's One Land Many Voices is co-hosted by Palestinian-American human rights attorney Zaha Hassan and Jewish-American community activist Ned Rosch. The program explores the Israel-Palestine conflict through an international law and human rights lens. The show airs on the 4th Friday of every month from 9-10 am. Past shows can be accessed at kboo.fm. While you're there, check out August's show with esteemed professors Sandy Tolan and our very own Joel Beinin. You can find reminders about this program, as well as plenty of other events, on the Google Calendar at the bottom of our Local Events page.

Tell the Trailblazers to Cancel Their Game Against Maccabi Haifa

Posted by: diana

The call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel was initiated in 2005 by Palestinian civil society as a tool to support the struggle for full Palestinian rights. The call included an appeal for the boycott of Israeli cultural and acedemic institutions, including Israeli sports teams. A similar embargo was seen as extraordinarilly effective in raising worldwide awareness of, and opposition to, South African Apartheid (1948–1992), and is an inspiration to the BDS movement of today. As many here are aware, the Portland Trailblazers are scheduled to play Maccabi Haifa next Friday, October 17th. Join us in calling for the Trailblazers to stand up for human rights and cancel their game with Maccabi Haifa.

Click here to Sign the Petition, and stay tuned for updates!

Many thanks to Maxine for creating this petition.

Congressional Action to end the blockade of Gaza

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Just Foreign Policy
Dear Valerie,
“We urge you to make a public statement calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza.”    

Sign our petition

Three Members of Congress have publicly called for an end to the blockade of Gaza: Reps. Keith Ellison, Barbara Lee, and Danny Davis —and we want more Congressional representatives to to join them. Our message is simple: “We urge you to make a public statement calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza.” Show your Congressional representatives that you support our campaign by signing and sharing our petition at MoveOn:

Stand With Ellison, Lee, and Davis: End #Gaza Blockade With Diplomacy

This is a critical moment. Israeli and Palestinian officials are scheduled to resume talks on Gaza at the end of October. Hamas has already agreed to hand control of the Gaza crossings to the Palestinian Authority. European countries are ready to help monitor the crossings. European donors want the blockade to be lifted with a diplomatic agreement before committing reconstruction aid, so they can be sure to get materials into Gaza in a timely way and so things they build won’t later be destroyed. The political and diplomatic situation is ripe to finally end the blockade with a diplomatic agreement.
Last month, beloved actor and social justice activist Danny Glover publicly called on Members of Congress to stand with Ellison and Lee in speaking out for an end to the blockade. [1] United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said, “The blockade of Gaza must end; Israel’s legitimate security concerns must be addressed.” He has warned, “Any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence.” [2] 

Palestinian civilians in Gaza need and deserve to live a normal life: free to travel, free to work, free to study, free to trade. Urge your representatives in Congress to speak out now by signing and sharing our petition.
Thanks for all you do to help end the blockade of Gaza through diplomacy,

Megan Iorio and Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy

Help fund our work—make a $15 tax-deductible contribution today!
Help us fund our work to support local groups throughout the country pushing their Members of Congress to publicly call for an end to the blockade of Gaza.


1. http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/moc-end-blockade 
2. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-strip-conflict.html
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The ABCs of Home Demolitions

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An interesting article on home demolitions from UN IRIN: The ABCs of Israel home demolitions.



The Occupation and Water Theft

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An excellent visualization of water resource usage in the Occupied Territories is here.



Other News and Feeds

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JVP National News is here.


Tracking efforts to stifle debate on Israeli-Palestinian policy

The Only Democracy?

Reports on the struggle for human rights in Israel and Palestine


JVP-Portland member Maxine Fookson was recently in Gaza with Physicians for Social Responsibility. Read her blog here.

JVP-Portland member Maxine Fookson and Mohammed Nabil co-host One Land Many Voices on community radio KBOO. For more info, click here.