Thursday, March 16, 2006

Honouring Rachel Corrie -sign declaration against Caterpillar


from Jewish Voice for Peace, the US West Coast-based campaigning group.

Thursday, March 16 is the 3rd anniversary of the death of courageous US peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli (Caterpillar) bulldozer as she was protecting a Palestinian home from being destroyed in Rafah refugee camp in Gaza.
The US Campaign to End the Occupation has called for an international day of action on March 16, 2006, to honor Rachel's death, to demand corporate accountability from the Caterpillar corporation, and to rededicate ourselves to ending the brutal Israeli occupation that continues to take Palestinian & Israeli lives and to wreak havoc in Palestinian communities.

TAKE ACTION NOW! On Rachel's behalf, and as a concrete action to change the US role in supporting and funding the occupation, please join the Jewish Voice for Peace campaign now to stop the Caterpillar corporation from selling their weaponized bulldozers to the Israeli military. These bulldozers – with bulletproof windows, grenade launchers and gun turrets – have demolished 50,000 Palestinian homes since 1967 and uprooted over 100,000 olive trees, trees that many families rely on for their sustenance.

PLEASE JOIN RABBIS Arik Ascherman, Lynn Gottlieb, Michael Lerner, Laurie Zimmerman, Buz Bogage, Robert Marx, Nina Mandel, Burt Jacobsen, Maurice Harris, Linda Holtzman, and David Bauer – as well as Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Gila Svirsky, Naomi Klein, Hannah Kranzberg, Daniel Boyarin, Nurit Peled El-Hanan and more, and sign THE DECLARATION AGAINST CATERPILLAR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES. It will only take 10 seconds – and please pass the word to everyone you know!

I don’t know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls…No amount of reading, conferences, documentaries, could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here…I am just beginning to learn about the ability of people to resist against all odds.”
--from Rachel's letters from Gaza

For more information about the case against Caterpillar human rights abuses, see Corrie v. Caterpillar, an article by law students Emily Schaeffer and Garrett Wright.


He makes the high and lowly,
and gives them their estate

I'm pleased to see a number of Rabbis among the signatories already. as well as a scholar like Daniel Boyarin. Pity they can't re-educate Britain's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, or failing that, the media which persists in listening to him. It was Sacks, the head of the United Synagogue, who condemned the decision of the Church of England synod to divest from Caterpillar saying:
"The Church has chosen to take a stand on the politics of the Middle East over which it has no influence, knowing that it will have the most adverse repercussions on a situation over which it has enormous influence, namely Jewish-Christian relations in Britain."

The description would more aptly apply to Sacks, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who rushed to support him. While right-wing Zionists offered lewkwarm praise for Sacks' 'hard' talk, the more obscurantist Federation of Synagogues were snapping at his heels saying he should also break with the Council of Christians and Jews. But many Jews were once again wondering why the media gives more credance to the rabbinate than many of their congregants, never mind the non-synagogue attenders.

Far from worsening relations, the synod's willingness to take a moral stand on where its money is invested earned it some respect, which is more than Jonathan Sacks, let alone the Federation rabble can say.

As it was the Church Commissioners soon reversed the synods stand. It is the Commissioners, and not the synod, who look after the Church of England's property and business holdings, and like any board of directors their job is to maximise income. Under Britain's archaic Established Church set up, not only does the monarch head the Church of England but Tony Blair and other government ministers are ex-officio Church Commissioners.

It was Karl Marx, I believe, who said it was well-known the Church of England would sooner give up all 39 of its Articles than surrender an acre of its property. Or, we can now add, so far as the Commissioners are concerned, divest itself of its profitable shareholdings.

People in London used to say it was notorious how many brothels in Bayswater were on Church property. The Church divested itself of much of this property in the late 1950s/early 1960s. The big old Victorian terraced houses passed into the hands of racketeers like Peter Rachman, freeing the Church Commissioners to invest in profitable developments such as the Water Gardens on Edgware Road, luxury apartments, as well as more industrial shares.

Until recently the Church Commissioners owned the Octavia Hill Estates, oases of affordable housing for essential but low-paid London workers. Named after a Victorian social reformer they are places where people know their neighbours. But they are in areas where property values are rising. Andreas Whittam Smith, chairman of the Church Commissioners Assets Committee, told the synod last month that the sale of the freehold on 1,100 homes on on the estates was an "extremely satisfactory outcome".

"The Commissioners are not satisfactory managers of this sort of property, we are not big enough, we don't have economies of scale and I must tell you that whilst the capital value has increased substantially the actual income return you have seen, especially when you take into account that we have spent £20 million on improvements, was close to zero."

The Commissioners had been criticised by MPs, Church of England members and residents over the sale. The homes, in Waterloo, Walworth, Vauxhall, Winchester Park and Pimlico will be managed by Pathmeads Housing Association, part of the Genesis Housing Group. Residents have said they fear unaffordable rent rises will force them out of their homes in the future. It could be worse. They might send in the bulldozers.

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At 12:07 PM, Blogger DesertPeace said...

Thanks for this blog Charlie...
Wonderful people like Rachel must never be forgotten.
Hopefully her efforts and great sacrifice will help in the struggle to create a lasting peace in Israel/Palestine.
May her memory be a blessing for all Peacemakers.


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