Jewish Activists Disrupt Safety Awards at MINExpo to Protest Caterpillar’s Sales to Israeli Army

LAS VEGAS — Jewish peace activists protested Caterpillar’s safety record in the Middle East when they disrupted the Caterpillar-sponsored Safety Awards earlier this morning at the MINExpo in Las Vegas, Nevada. They unrolled a banner with a photo of an armored D-9 bulldozer destroying homes that read “What do Cat dozers make possible? Death and destruction for Palestinians and Israelis.” The United Nations, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, in addition to many faith-based groups, have all condemned Caterpillar’s sale of bulldozers to Israel which endanger the safety of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

The activists, 31-year-old Seth Schneider and 44-year-old Sydney Levy of California-based Jewish Voice for Peace were escorted out by security guards and their film was confiscated. They will be joined by others in protesting outside of the convention center today from 9 am to 11 am.

“D-9 Caterpillars sold to the Israeli army are specifically designed to destroy homes and attack people in a war zone,” said activist Sydney Levy. “They are retrofitted with armor, and some include grenade launchers and even crew-operated machine guns.”

Protestor Seth Schneider said, “How can Caterpillar say with a straight face that it values safety, while profiting from endangering the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. When it comes to Israel and Palestine, Caterpillar deserves a zero safety-rating. The destruction of homes is illegal by international law, and it fuels the violent backlash against Israeli civilians.”

Caterpillar equipment has demolished over 8,000 buildings in the West Bank and Gaza, leaving over 50,000 Palestinians homeless. Caterpillar equipment destroyed an entire neighborhood in the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002. Caterpillar bulldozers razed over 140 houses to the ground and severely damaged another 200 to the point of inhabitability. Human Rights Watch reported that a Caterpillar bulldozer buried a paralyzed man alive in his home during the raid on Jenin, despite pleas from his family to stop in time to evacuate him. A Caterpillar bulldozer killed American Rachel Corrie in 2003, as she nonviolently tried to stop the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home.

Jewish Voice for Peace Co-Director Liat Weingart said, “CAT is selling weapons of war. They are violating standards of safety - and they are violating international law and basic human rights standards. This is certainly not something they will want to put in their annual report.”

California-based Jewish Voice for Peace is the largest grassroots Jewish peace group in the United States. Jewish Voice for Peace has launched a campaign website, which features news, photographs, action alerts, and background information.

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