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Quakers divest from HP and Veolia Environment

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The Palestine Israel Action Group, a subcommittee of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting, issued the following press release:

September 24, 2012, Ann Arbor. Friends Fiduciary Corporation, the socially responsible investment firm serving over 300 Quaker institutions in the United States, has dropped its holdings in Hewlett Packard and Veolia Environment, multinational corporations that support Israel’s Occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

Hewlett Packard was removed from Friends Fiduciary’s investments because they provide information technology consulting services to the Israeli Navy, said Jeffery W. Perkins, the Executive Director of Friends Fiduciary. Veolia Environment, the world’s largest water privatization company, was removed because of “environmental and social concerns.” According to Global Exchange, Veolia provides segregated water services to Israeli settlers in the Palestinian Territories and runs a large landfill in the occupied Jordan River valley.

Friends’ Fiduciary’s decision to drop Hewlett Packard and Veolia follows on the heels of another important action, says Anne Remley of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting, which initiated the divestment requests. In April, 2012, Friends Fiduciary’s removed Caterpillar Corporation from their list of socially responsible corporations based on the 360-year old Quaker Peace Testimony, which disavows support for war.

Friends were concerned that Caterpillar sells bulldozers to the Israeli army to be weaponized and used in the systematic demolition of Palestinian homes and civilian infrastructure. When this concern was brought to Friends Fiduciary, says Perkins, [Caterpillar] “would neither confirm nor deny the extent or type of modifications to the equipment sold to the Israeli military.”

The action of Friends Fiduciary in dropping these three firms marks a major breakthrough in the global campaign to hold corporations accountable for profiting from Israel’s human rights and international law violations in the Palestinian Territories.

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8 Responses

  1. Susan Johnson
    Susan Johnson on September 25, 2012, 1:15 pm

    Exciting, but way over due!

  2. Walid
    Walid on September 25, 2012, 1:27 pm

    Bravo to to Baltzer and friends; they report the amount the Friends had in HP was more than $250,000 and in Veolia, more than $140,000. It’s regrettable that those who could really make an impact aren’t on the BDS bus.

    Jadaliya reports on Veolia:

    “… Veolia has facilitated the Israeli occupation by building and operating a tram-line which links Jerusalem with illegal settlements in the West Bank, by dumping waste from Israel and illegal settlements on Palestinian land at the Tovlan landfill, and by providing wastewater treatment to several illegal settlement, including Modi’in Illit. Due to Veolia’s violation of International Law, Palestinian human rights, and Veolia’s own mission, other countries, municipalities, and pension funds are boycotting Veolia and holding it accountable for its actions.

    … The waste from twenty-one different settlements and from within Israel proper is buried in the Tovlan landfill and the health and environmental impact of the waste has led to the people of nearby villages to desert their homes. The population of Abu Ajai, for instance, has dwindled from thousands in 1999 to only two hundred in 2011. While Palestinians in nearby villages are deprived of electricity, the electricity generated by the processing of waste in this hazardous landfill is supplied only to neighboring Jewish-only settlements. Ironically, the people working in this hazardous landfill are only Palestinians, who receive less than half the minimum wage given to Israeli workers.

  3. lysias
    lysias on September 25, 2012, 2:45 pm

    Quakers were the first Americans to call for the abolition of slavery.

  4. chuckcarlos
    chuckcarlos on September 25, 2012, 6:47 pm

    may be a bad idea

    Hewlett and Packard were Stanford basketball players…anymore whether they are political connected anymore is beyond just about everybody…

    there was also a divestment of Intel…

    Intel was a product of Shockley the Nobel Prize Winner, Shockley SemiConductor in Silicon Valley…Bob Noyce worked for Shockley and Noyce was from Grinnell College by way of MIT/CalTech…Noyce was a Protestant from the Midwest…he formed the legendary Fairchild SemiConductor and then INTEL…he shared the patent for the Integrated Circuit and his buss design is the one used today…

    Noyce was in competition with Einstein for the man on the cover of the 20th Century deal…he was not awarded a Nobel Prize because he died first…

    The world we see today in electronics and in fact the office layout (landscape furniture) is because of him…He was Protestant from the midwest with either his Father or Grandfather being a Minister…

    Now why anybody would boycott his firm is beyond me…INTEL like Microsoft and Apple (There’s that Syrian connection for you) are universal and have now crossed into all parts of the planet…

    • Hostage
      Hostage on September 25, 2012, 8:40 pm

      Now why anybody would boycott his firm is beyond me…INTEL like Microsoft and Apple (There’s that Syrian connection for you) are universal and have now crossed into all parts of the planet…

      Yes, even some parts of it that were stolen from Palestinian refugees. Here is an article by Henry Norr that should help explain the situation: Intel chip plant located on disputed Israeli land / Intel could face political, legal problems with chip plant in Israel

    • Proton Soup
      Proton Soup on September 25, 2012, 9:22 pm

      whether hewlett and packard are connected now is irrelevant. the modern company HP really has nothing in common with them. H&P started off as a test instrument company. in 1999, the test instrument side of the company, the very thing that built HP and its reputation, was spun off as Agilent. this empty shell called HP that you see today is little more than a brand. it is certainly nothing that engenders respect in engineers. yes, we have our HP calculators, and lab equipment. even the laser printer was a beauty in its day. but would you buy a computer with that brand today? HP now represents only commodity products in my mind. and they certainly do not represent Hewlett and Packard.

      now, why boycott either hp or intel? why should it have anything to do with the founders? or universality? it’s about morality.

  5. Walid
    Walid on September 26, 2012, 2:38 am

    A $140,000 divestment from Veolia doesn’t seem like a big deal, but there has been worthwhile victories in the last couple of years that have put a big strain on its finances. Here’s a recap from the Ireland Palestinian Solidarity Campaign:

    “Boycott works!

    The impact of the successful global Boycott Divestment Sanction campaign against Veolia: Lost Contracts and legal actions

    Oct 2011: Alstom lost the bid for the second phase of the Saudi Haramain Railway project, worth $10 billion US dollars, after pressure from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, including effective campaigning from the newly launched KARAMA, a European campaign to Keep Alstom Rail And Metro Away.

    February 2011 Tower Hamlets Borough (London) passed a motion to review all contracts with Veolia, not to place any more contracts with the company and to terminate any relationship with Veolia.

    Late 2010-2011 : Veolia has lost waste management contracts with Edinburgh, Richmond, Portsmouth, Winchester and East Hants, South London Waste Management and London Borough of Ealing after vigorous local campaigns for exclusion.

    After a successful local campaign, Veolia Environmental Services lost the contract for waste management with Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in the west Midlands.

    Oct 2010: Cork City Council passed a motion (18:1) not to renew any further contracts with Veolia in light of Veolia’s collaboration with the apartheid Israeli regime.

    June 2010: Donegal County Council passed a motion not to renew any further contracts with Veolia in light of Veolia’s collaboration with the apartheid Israeli regime.

    May 2010: Castlebar Town Council unanimously backed a motion urging the Town Manager not to sign any new or renew any existing contracts with Veolia while the company supports Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank.

    June 2010: Swansea City Council passed a resolution to exclude Veolia from all future contracts.Swansea is the second largest city inWales and the first council inUK to pass such a resolution.

    May 2010: Dublin City Council, the first (European capital to do so) passed a motion not to renew any further contracts with Veolia as a result of the operations in occupiedPalestine.

    July 2009: Veolia lose an Australian desalination contract worth $3.5B

    June 2009: Reports indicate that due to international pressure Veolia is withdrawing from the light rail project however this has not been confirmed. Alstom remains involved in the project.

    June 2009: The city of Melbourne,Australia stripped Connex of their contract to run Melbourne’s trams and Hong Kong’s MTR.

    The city of Tehran announces that Veolia will be excluded from bidding for key contracts in the city’s transportation services.

    April 2009: GalwayCity Council voted not to renew or enter into any new contract’s with Veolia as a result of the operations in occupiedPalestine.

    A French Court agreed to hear the case that was launched against Veolia and Alstom by Association France-Palestine Solidarité and the PLO in 2007. This case could set precedence for taking legal actions against corporations in their home countries for international law violations they commit inPalestine.

    AFPS Press Release

    Veolia loses a contact worth 750 million Euros in Bordeaux, France.

    March 2009: The Swedish National Pension fund divested from Alstom as the reported human rights abuses regarding the company’s participation in a railway project in Jerusalem made it not suitable for pension funds investments.

    February 2009:SligoCounty Council passed a motion not to renew any further contracts with Veolia as a result of the operations in occupiedPalestine.

    January 2009: Veolia loses 4.5 billion dollar contract to run the subway in Stockholm, Sweden.

    November 2006: ASN, a Dutch bank, breaks off financial relations with Veolia “Due to the direct nature of Veolia’s involvement, we are of the opinion that Veolia’s activities inJerusalem are in conflict with UN Resolutions. Therefore, on this current information Veolia will be removed from our investment universe.”

    Dutch bank divests holdings in J’lem light rail, cites settlements, Haaretz published December 2006,

    Principled Dutch bank ends relations with Veolia , Electronic Intifada, November 2006 Adri Nieuwhof

    August 2006: Irish train drivers forces Veolia to cancel plans to train Israeli drivers and engineers in Ireland. They were to be trained on the Dublin Luas which is nearly identical to the one being constructed in Jerusalem.

    Connex Ireland forced to cancel contract with Occupation Worldwide Activism, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign,Aug 19, 2006

    To the above list, add another victory reported in EI:

    “Multinational urban systems contractor Veolia has been rejected from contracts in yet another European city. On 23 May, the regional council of Haaglanden — whose major city is The Hague, the “international city of peace and justice” — decided not to award Veolia Transport Nederland Openbaar Vervoer, the Dutch subsidiary of Veolia, a contract for public transportation systems in the city.”

    Regrettably, Veolia still being rewarded with contracts to build and manage desalination plants in several Arab states (and bus and taxi companies in Lebanon).

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