Sunday, February 12, 2006

Freethinker Sunday Sermonette: caterpillars

The caterpillar is a homely creature but if fed and nurtured it metamorposes into a butterfly. A Caterpillar Tractor is a murderous beast when used to demolish homes and people. So the Church of England's general synod, with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, has voted not to nurture or feed it anymore (via The Revealer).

The US based Caterpillar company has been supplying the Israeli Defense Forces heavy equipment for years that are used to bulldoze Palestinian homes as group punishment for Palestinian resistance to Israel's illegal occupation. In May 2004 the company was warned by the United Nations it was complicit in human rights violations:
Jean Ziegler, the UN's special expert on the right to food, sent a letter to Caterpillar Inc. saying that the company could be considered an accomplice in human rights violations.

The letter to Caterpillar chief executive James Owen expressed Ziegler's concerns "about the actions of the Israeli occupation forces in Rafah and in other locations in Gaza and the West Bank."


Ziegler's letter, dated May 28, said the Israelis are "using armoured bulldozers supplied by your company to destroy agricultural farms, greenhouses, ancient olive groves and agricultural fields planted with crops." (CBC)
In March, 2003, a 23 year old American peace activist, Rachel Corrie, was crushed to death by a Caterpillar tractor. Since then there has been an international effort to get socially responsible institutions to disinvest in Caterpillar and this is one of the results. Caterpillar's defense has been that it doesn't sell the machines directly to Israel but to the US military, which in turns gives them to Israel. That explanation did not satisfy the Anglican Synod, who, in a debate described as passionate and contentious, voted overwhelmingly to disinvest.

The British Jewish Establishment is unhappy:
The Jewish community's distress will be augmented by the fact that the vote to disinvest was backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. By contrast, Dr Williams has so far not commented on the recent Palestinian election victory of Hamas, an organisation committed to destroying the state of Israel.

Among those expected to be angered are the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which at the last synod held a special presentation, the first of its kind, in an attempt to explain the plight of Israel and its need to protect itself from incessant terror attacks from its Palestinian community.

The Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks is also expected to be concerned, as is the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, who believes the Church should support Israel. Judaism is the mother religion of Christianity and Jesus Christ himself was Jewish. (Times Online)
What a joke. Don't criticize us because Jesus was Jewish? I guess Jack Abramoff gets a free pass, too.

I'm glad the Anglican Synod did what any creditable institution would and should do. To say what they did was an act of courage is to invest with too much significance what should be normal decent behavior. All I can do is shake my head at the total moral bankruptcy of British Jewish leaders. Having been raised as Jew, I take no satisfaction in recognizing that the goal of Israel has been achieved: Jews now have a nation just like any other nation, with all that implies. As such, it attracts the usual rabble of moral scoundrels who defend its every action, right or wrong.

Sunday. Just like any other Sunday.