An Open Letter to the Portland City Council from the JVP Rabbinical Council

We write to you as members of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council to encourage your efforts to place Caterpillar on Portland’s Do Not Buy List. We applaud your ethical commitment to socially responsible investing, and want to communicate our support as Jewish leaders who work for justice and peace for the people of Israel and Palestine.

We know you will likely be criticized by groups that claim to speak for the entire Jewish community. However, as Jewish leaders, we believe there is by no means a uniformity of opinion on this issue in the American Jewish community. There is, in fact, a growing desire within the North American Jewish community to end our silence over Israel’s almost 50 year occupation of Palestine and to speak out for the rights of Palestinians.

We encourage the placement of Caterpillar on Portland’s Do Not Buy List for its reprehensible track record and violations of six of the seven criteria established by Portland’s Socially Responsible Investment Committee. A few of the company’s human rights violations include: use of their bulldozers to demolish Palestinian homes and infrastructure, environmental concerns around contracts to build the Dakota Access Pipeline, and environmental degradation from mining and dam construction in Central America with Caterpillar equipment. Caterpillar has also participated in tax avoidance, anti-labor practices and weapons manufacturing.

To invest your own resources in corporations which pursue your vision of a just and peaceful world, and to withdraw your resources from those which contradict this vision is a bold move, and one that we want you to know is supported by a large, and ever growing Jewish community committed to social and environmental justice.

Contrary to what you may have heard, many of us in the Jewish community deeply appreciate the solidarity of people of conscience in pursuing conscientious nonviolent strategies, such as socially responsible investing as a path towards building a more ethical and sustainable world. Thank you, members of the City Council, for your commitment to ethical investing and for setting an example for other cities of what socially responsible investing looks like.

With prayers for peace, and with appreciation for your commitment to a more just world.

The Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council is a council of over 40 Rabbis and Rabbinical Students from across North America and Israel/Palestine.

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