Families Cannot Sue Firm for Israel Deaths
Posted: 19 September 2007 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]
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http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/09/19/3941/

NEW YORK - The parents of Rachel Corrie, the US peace activist who was crushed to death four years ago in the then Israeli-occupied Gaza as she was protesting against the demolition of Palestinian homes, have been refused permission to sue the company which made the bulldozer that killed her.

On Monday a federal appeals court ruled that Caterpillar Inc, the Illinois-based company that has supplied several bulldozers used by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in house demolitions in the occupied territories, could not be sued as to do so would bring the judiciary into conflict with the executive branch of the US government.

A panel of three judges argued that the legal action could not have gone to trial “without implicitly questioning, and even condemning, United States foreign policy towards Israel”.


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what the…? “A panel of three judges argued that the legal action could not have gone to trial ‘without implicitly questioning, and even condemning, United States foreign policy towards Israel.’”

Well, that is obviously what needs to be done!

Arghhhh!! I’m going to lunch but this made me too sick to my stomach to eat…

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Posted: 19 September 2007 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Why should Caterpillar be liable for the actions of the Israeli army?

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Posted: 19 September 2007 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yes, it’s one thing to make chemical weapons. Then one could argue you have a clear reason to know that your products can only be used for evil. And there’s a gray zone, such as gun manufacturers. Their product could arguably have “legitimate” uses, but they sure do weasel out of a lot of responsibility they deserve for gun violence. But bulldozer makers? Not exactly a weapon of mass destruction. Even selling them to the Israeli Army is only de facto worng if you buy the position that said army can and does only evil things with them. From your rhetoric previously, TA, maybe you do think this, but I don’t. So making Caterpillar criminally or financially liable for how the IDF used its bulldozers seems ridiculous to me.

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Posted: 19 September 2007 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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yeah right, Caterpillar had no idea Israel was using their equipment illegally. Come on guys, just because you don’t like my views doesnt mean you should try and advance such weak arguments simply for the sake of disagreeing with me. At least try and check with B’Tselem, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch or the UN before putting your feet in your mouths.

brennen, let’s go with the gun example of yours. it is against the law to sell felons a gun, especially if their crime was gun related. it is not an unknown thing that the D-9’s sold to the IDF are used for home demolitions in the occupied territories. If Smith & Wesson sold a gun to someone with a criminal record they could (and should) be held responsible for selling them the gun. Well, there happens to be such things in terms of international law. Even the Dutch have used such legal precedents to try Frans Van Anraat. I am sure he could have used the same arguments: “I cant police how Saddam used these chemicals and equipment.” No, the precedent was: it was common knowledge that he was using the chemicals for weapons, therefore you are responsible for selling them. The same ought to apply to Caterpillar. We know they are using the bulldozers illegally, so Caterpillar ought to be held responsible for selling them.

you guys might want to look up more on the history of use of bulldozers in Palestine before you reflexively argue just because you dont like my views. also, browse around online and see if you can find any matters pertaining to international and domestic law that would prohibit the sell of weapons that are to be used for illegal purposes. Do you guys really think Caterpillar does not know that there equipment has been and is continuing to be used to demolish homes and agriculture in the occupied territories, which is in violation of international law (check with the three human rights groups cited above).

go back to what the panel of judges said. its not that there is not a legal basis to rule, but to do so would require “implicitly questioning, and even condemning, United States foreign policy towards Israel.”

in north texas there is a trial going on because an Islamic charity group raised and sent money to non-violent organizations in the occupied territories controlled by Hamas. Simply because Hamas - who is classified as a terrorist organization - oversees certain non-violent organizations that provide social services to the occupied (perhaps we should go over why they need this aid and how Israel closes them off from it as much as possible) this charity is being accused of funding terrorism. I wonder how you guys would act if the judges said, “legal action could not have gone to trial without implicitly questioning, and even condemning, United States foreign policy towards Palestine.”

The illegal occupation of Palestinian land by Israel is not a new thing. Its been more than forty years and countless UNSC resolutions (most of which were vetoed by the US). Likewise, the brutal and aggressive methods employed by the IDF is also not a new thing. Even before what was done to Rachel Corie in broad daylight, it was known what the IDF was using the D-9’s for (take a look at their suppression of the al-Aqsa Intifada and some of the soldiers testimonies about what they did for hours at a time behind the behemoths) illegal purposes. hell, their illegal use of bulldozers goes back at least to the 1970s!

Doug, to answer your question: because there is a strong case to be made that Caterpillar knew Israel would use them illegally and inappropriately. Thats why.

Brennen, formulating a RHETORICAL response to attack my “previous rhetoric” may sound like a good debate argument, but your gray area simply doesnt apply to the known realities of what the IDF has been using US-supplied weapons and equipment for. Again, even your own gun analogy should show that Caterpillar is partially liable for selling the bulldozers to Israel.

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Posted: 19 September 2007 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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TA,
Nothing to do with not liking your views, just your reflexive oversimplification. Does the IDF use bulldozers for anything legitimate? Do they bulldoze Israeli settlements? Do they build roads? Do they clear landmines? Do they make checkpoints? My point is that selling a bulldozer to the IDF and selling a rifle to a felon are different because the potential utility of the object is much wider and harder to make simple moral judgements about, except for you apparently.

You appear to believe that the IDF is so unlikely to use a bulldozer for any but a malign purpose that selling them one is a de facto immoral act for which Caterpillar should be morally and legally accountable . Fair enough, but I don’t think it’s that simple. The examples I gave were intended to illustrate that there’s a spectrum on which providing materials can be clearly and obviously wrong because they can only be used for evil, clearly and obviously not wrong because they can only have positive humanitarian applications, and a HUGE gray zone in the middle. You can make the argument that Caterpillar falls on the wrong side of the moral line here, and you may even be right. But the whole shock at the obvious injustice of it that you started the thread with seems to have more to do with your tendancy to make quick, simplistic, and uncompromising moral judgements than with the facts. Soldiers in Iraq, the DL, Caterpillar…. The world seems divided into black and white for you to the point that you no longer even begin with trying to make a point or an argument but assume it’s obvious to all and get irritated or indignant or defensive when challenged.

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m always disagreeing with you. As I’ve said before, I suspect we agree more than disagree. And in many cases I’ve appreciated learning from you, as in the threads on anarchism. But I have a low tolerance for what seems like zealotry and the easy division of people into good guys and bad bguys, because I think a lot more harm is done by the attitude, even in defense of a sound ideology, than it is worth. I guess that’s my own reflexive judgement then, eh? grin

[ Edited: 19 September 2007 03:04 PM by mckenzievmd ]
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Posted: 19 September 2007 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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brennen,

your assuming way too much, my friend. the issue is not about whether they use it for any legitimate purposes. yes, in fact they have some legitimate domestic uses within the green line.

but that is not the issue as it pertains to the topic of Rachel Corie or the continued use in the occupied territories. The campaign - social and legal - to hold Caterpillar accountable and stop their selling of the bulldozers has nothing to do with their legitimate use and everything to do with their illegitimate use. The same goes with the so-called “security fence.” The opposition to it is not that they are putting up a wall. They could put up walls all day and night so long as they didnt put it on foreign land, which they did by going beyond the green line.

again, the common knowledge of Israels common usage of D-9’s for illegal and harmful purposes towards humans and their livelyhoods - especially in an area that they illegally occupy - is not even in question.

to keep with your gun analogy, it would be the height of absurdity to advance an argument that says, “Does the known criminal use the gun for any legitimate purpose?” We know that the criminal is known for using guns illegally and consistently - so regardless of whether there are ever times that he uses them legitimately is absolutely irrelevant.

Seriously, consider Frans Van Anraat. Here is a dutch businessman who sold Saddam Hussein raw materials that could be dual-use (they could have been used legally), but since it was common knowledge that Saddam was using the materials illegally, Anraat is now serving a 15 year sentence. I am trying to use this as an example to demonstrate the point. If talking about Israel is too touchy then maybe we should view similar issues with different characters to first establish the precedent.

I am not oversimplifying the issue, but I suspect you are overcomplexifying it with dubious arguments because of a growing bias against the intensity of my views. I know you deny it, but I still suspect it. Mostly, because Doug, yourself and others are more than reasonably bright and I can think of no other reason for the particular arguments I am reading other than you guys are having knee-jerk reactions to attempt to score a point on me or prove me wrong.

There is something tragically wrong when our businesses and government sell and provide weapons and equipment to another country that is blatantly using them for illegal purposes and then hear arguments opposed to holding us accountable and stopping that aid on the basis of “how are we to know they would do something illegal” or “what about when they use it legally.” I think the shallowness of those questions and arguments is too clear to run through again…

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Posted: 19 September 2007 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I guess I wonder why the legitimate uses are irrelevant and the illegitimate uses central? I mean, do we really address the issue of Israeli misbehavior by denying them bulldozers? Or by suing companies who sell them bulldozers? I don’t think you can just argue that since the things have potential illegitimate uses they shouldn’t be able to have them. As for the Saddam analogy, I think it;s faulty. For one thing, I think Saddam was a whole lot worse than ISrael, though I realize we may disagree about that. For another, a lot of the thngs we were worried about him using to make WMD from it turned out he wasn’t. Should we have sued the company that made the notorious “metal tubes” he wa ssupposedly enriching uranium with? I still stand by my assertion that you’re oversimplifying, and that your proposed response (suing Caterpillar) is pontless and misguided. Guess it’s AGTD (agree to disagree) time again.

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Posted: 19 September 2007 04:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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brennen,

I work production and I get quality monitoring. My boss does not bother to bring up scores of 100, but when I fail shes quick to say something. the logic is obvious: no sense of making an issue when im doing things right (save that for when i get pay raises, etc), but if I need to address a problem then the sooner the better. you follow?

I dont really see the point of bringing up our failed WMD claims to get into war with Iraq or the differences between Saddam and Israel so lets not get off track with irrelevant issues (I could have something to say about the differences and similarities between Iraq under Saddam and Israeli policies but feel that would be straying too far from the topic). I think you are confusing the 2002-2003 Bush claims about WMD with the known materials that were provided by the US and West in the 1980s. I brought up the Dutch businessman because of the relevancy in issues and as a way to demonstrate the precedent behind this campaign to get Caterpillar to stop selling the D9s. Also, I didnt mention this to imply one was equal or worse than the other. The point was to provide and demonstrate a similar precedent where foreign businesses are held accountable for helping another aggressor by providing materials that were blatantly being used for illegal purposes.

Anyway, Frans sold materials to Saddam in the 1980s that were used as for weapons. Again, please dont confuse this situation with the Bush claims in 2002-2003. We’re not talking about claims of what could have still be in possession, but what was known to have been sold and used in the 1980s. Considering Saddam’s blatant use of CW - which the US said in 1983 was used on “almost a daily basis” -  the businessman (and others) would have had to have known what Saddam was planning on using his materials for. When Caterpillar makes D9’s specifically for the IDF and knows that the IDF has been using them for illegal purposes they made themselves complicit in the crimes. Even the top human rights groups and officials at the UN have pointed this out explicitly.

Its quite simple: Israel has been using the bulldozers - and other weapons, equipment and aid - for illegal and harmful purposes and they should stop providing them (just like China and others should stop aiding Sudan in Darfur). In the case of Caterpillar, the campaign to get them to stop selling the D9’s intensified after the death of Rachel Corie.

There are precedents about this and a particular word: sanctions. When there is a repeat violator it is argued as being a useful tool to impel the person to stop their criminal actions by placing sanctions on the said party. So long as Israel continues to flagrantly violate human rights foreign businesses should be compelled - if they dont want to do so willingly - not to do business with them, especially in the areas where the transactions could provide them with the means to break the law. Why is this such a hard thing to acknowledge? Caterpillar sells equipment to a repeat offender and since they dont want to stop willingly, there should be some external force applying the pressure to force them, whether that be Caterpillar workers, organized and concerned citizens or the government.

[ Edited: 19 September 2007 04:35 PM by truthaddict ]
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Posted: 19 September 2007 05:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I guess we are really disagreeing then about the issue of Israel and what is an appropriate response to that country’s actions. I support sanctions as a general principle, when it is appropriate tactically and practically. I was involved in the divestment movement vis a vis So. Africa in the 80s, but I felt the same logic applied to Iraq was a failure and more to the detriment of the people than the government. In the case of Israel, I don’t agree that the right or effective tactic to deal with that situation would be sanctioning a company that sells bulldozers to the army. I just don’t thinks it’s appropriate or likely to be effective.

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