The intense Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Caterpillar Inc. has been dealt a significant blow in recent weeks, after the company issued a stinging rebuke of the campaign’s accusations, and it was revealed that the Palestinian Authority recently bought Caterpillar equipment.
Caterpillar, long a favored target of BDS ire because Israel uses its equipment in Judea and Samaria, undercut the justification for the campaign by exposing a basic falsehood on which the campaign is built in an email exchange between Just Foreign Policy Director and Huffington Post blogger Robert Naiman and Caterpillar Spokesman Jim Dugan on the Huffington Post Monitor website last Friday.
Dugan, responding to a post written by Naiman encouraging divestment of Caterpillar because it “sells to Israel,” wrote that the bulldozers
“that get most of the attention are provided to the Israeli government as part of a program administered by the United States government that supports US allies.”
To remove any doubt about whether Caterpillar sells equipment to Israel, Dugan elaborated on the specifics of the transactional process:
“This is how it works. Caterpillar sells equipment to the U.S. government, which then transfers the equipment to the Israeli government, which then transfers it to the Israeli military.”
Instead of addressing the substance of Dugan’s email, Naiman cites former director of the U.S. Office of B’Tselem and fellow BDS supporter Mitchell Plitnick – who he apparently believes to be more authoritative on the subject of Caterpillar’s business practices – for the proposition that “CAT provides Israel with the bulldozers, specially designed for weaponization.”
An obviously annoyed Dugan responds with a sharp rejoinder:
Please read my post, but if that’s too much trouble, I’ll summarize…
We supply machines to the United States Government.”
He then repeats the process by which Israel procures Caterpillar machinery:
“The facts, not opinion. We sell machines to the United States as part of a program that includes reviews by the State Department, Congress and the Executive Branch.
Fact. As I indicated in my post, we do not weaponize machines used by the IMF [sic, IDF]. Modifications may be done to our machines after they are sold.”
Dugan ends with a scathing remark which he seems to apply not only to Naiman, but to the BDS movement in general:
“It is too bad people keep making claims that are not factual.”
Throwing another wrench in the BDS campaign against Caterpillar was the revelation by The Elder of Ziyon blog that “the official Caterpillar dealer in Ramallah transferred several tractors to the Palestinian Authority” several weeks ago [emphasis added].
The blog cited Palestinian Tractor’s website, which boasts a Caterpillar logo and speaks proudly of its status as a Caterpillar dealer:
Palestinian Tractor and Equipment Co. Ltd. was established in 1995 as a sister company to Jordan Tractor and Equipment Co. and as an affiliate Company to M.E. JALLAD the dealer of Caterpillar Inc. in Lebanon and Syria since 1929. It is a part of Caterpillar dealers network established all over the world.
As a Caterpillar dealer, PT&E are able to bring to the country not only the finest quality products but also the expertise and the know how of a world leader in the productive use and management of machines that serve various segments of the market.
[Watch the ribbon-cutting ceremony here]
The response of the BDS movement?
Of course, another course of action could have been to boycott, divest, and sanction the U.S. government and Palestinian Authority, but this would have merely distracted the BDS movement from its mission to demonize and delegitimize Israel.