Petition: NZ Superfund must divest from Israeli occupation

16 Jul

An Israeli military caterpillar used to destroy Palestinian homes, construct the Separation Wall on the West Bank and assist in urban warfare in Gaza. The NZ Superfund invests in US manufacturer Caterpillar.

by Lois Griffiths

15 July 2011

A petition has been launched requesting the New Zealand Parliament to ask the NZ Superfund to disinvest from six companies doing business with the Israeli occupation in Palestine so that New Zealanders are not profiteering from crimes against international humanitarian law.

The petition will be presented to Parliament in September by Green MP Keith Locke. Can you help to collect signatures? To obtain petition forms, email

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell was so disturbed by the Vietnam War that he established a tribunal in 1966, that became known as the Russell Tribunal on Vietnam, to investigate crimes committed in Vietnam and judge them according to international law. The Tribunal’s panel included prominent international lawyers, writers and philosophers. Although the Tribunal had no legal status it was influential in exposing crimes against humanity and raising public opposition to the war. “May this Tribunal prevent the crime of silence”, declared Bertrand Russell.

Today, and in the same spirit, the Bertrand Russell Foundation has supported the setting up of a Russell Tribunal on Palestine to examine the violations of international law, of which the Palestinians are victims, and that prevent the Palestinian People from exercising its rights to a sovereign State. This Tribunal intends to reaffirm the supremacy of international law as the basis for a solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. It will identify all the failings in the implementation of this right and will condemn all the parties responsible for these failings, in full view of international public opinion. Members of the International Support Committee of the RToP include Nobel Prize laureates, a former United Nations Secretary-General, two former heads of state, other persons who held high political office and many representatives of civil society, writers, journalists, poets, actors, film directors, scientists, professors, lawyers and judges.

The Tribunal’s London Session in November 2010 specifically focused on the role of multinational corporations , including banks, in facilitating Israel’s crimes.

The main questions the jury considered in London were:

  • Which Israeli violations of international law are corporations complicit in?

  • What are the legal consequences of the activities of corporations that aid and abet Israeli violations?

  • What are the remedies available and what are the obligations of states in relation to corporate complicity?

The tribunal has named a number of corporations as being potential legally liable by enabling Israel to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. The following list is of those that the NZ Superfund invests in. The petition to Parliament requests that the Guardians of the NZ Superfund be asked to disinvest the fund from them.

(1) G4S, a multinational British/Danish corporation, supplies scanning equipment and full bodyscanners to several military checkpoints in the West Bank, all of which have been built as part of the Separation Wall, whose route was declared illegal by the ICJ in an Advisory Opinion. G4S operates in settlements, providing equipment for prisons for Palestinian political prisoners and for installations of the Israeli police in settlements.

(2) Elbit Systems, a leading Israeli multinational, has an intimate and collaborative relationship with the Israeli military in developing weapons technology first used by the Israeli Army in its active combat operations, before marketing and selling the technology to countries worldwide. For example, Elbit supplied the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (otherwise known as Drones) that were extensively and illegally used in the Gaza conflict. The Norwegian Pension Fund was divested from Elbit Systems as a result of this complicity in human rights violations.

(3) Caterpillar, based in the US, supply specifically modified military D9 bulldozers to Israel, which are used in: (i) the demolition of Palestinian homes; (ii) the construction of settlements and the Wall; and (iii) in urban warfare in the Gaza conflict; in all cases causing civilian deaths and injuries, and extensive property damage not justified by military necessity. The Church of England disinvested from Caterpillar some time ago.

(4) Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi and Israel Discount Bank have branches in some illegal settlements and grant mortgages to settlers to buy property in illegal settlements.

One Response to “Petition: NZ Superfund must divest from Israeli occupation”

  1. Tom July 16, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Very good ! These are the sort of actions I whole heartedly support and would like to more of. Appeal to their conscience !

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