Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Blog

Over the past few years, there have been numerous signs that mainstream public awareness of Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights is growing in the United States. Whether it’s impressive coverage by the Daily Show and 60 Minutes, or opinion polls, it is clear that a more accurate narrative is gaining momentum. But that shift in discourse has rarely produced tangible results that could impact developments on the ground. Well, even that is beginning to change.

Earlier this week, Caterpillar was struck off the index of socially responsible companies, partly for the role the company’s equipment plays in Israel’s illegal demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories. According to Al-Jazeera, “The decision has already spurred TIAA-CREF, a US mutual fund giant, to remove $72m in Caterpillar shares from its "Social Choice" Fund.” This is the biggest victory in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Caterpillar since the launch of that campaign shortly after the outbreak of the Second Intifada.

This sets a notable precedent: we’re now at the point where companies can pay a considerable PR and financial cost for supporting Israel’s reprehensible policies in the occupied territories. This also highlights the availability of alternative methods, beyond policy advocacy, to pressure Israel to end the occupation. While we are far from reaching the threshold that could force Israel to end the occupation, this Caterpillar victory is a milestone worth celebrating.

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