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NZ Superfund, Investing in Oppression

NZ Superfund, Investing in Oppression

By Lois Grifiths
22 September 2014

NZ Superfund was established by Michael Cullen to finance universal pensions for the expected growing population of senior Kiwis. The Superfund is doing well economically but questions need to be raised in regards to the ethics of some of the investments. To its credit, the NZ Superfund does not invest in tobacco companies or in corporations to do with nuclear weapons.

But there are other investments which should be withdrawn for ethical reasons. I am particularly concerned about corporations that profit from the ongoing oppression of the indigenous Palestinian people, including profiteering from Israel's ongoing flouting of international law. Examples that have particularly come to my attention are Caterpillar, G4S, United Technologies, Boeing, and Raytheon.

Caterpillar produces an armored bulldozer-tank, D9R, especially for the IDF (Israel Defence forces) to use in house demolitions. I've met Palestinians in the West Bank and in Israel too, who have had their houses demolished. It is a tragic and traumatic experience. The victims are even billed for the demolition which crushes everything, including personal belongings, family photographs, children's toys, everything. People are thrown out, left at the mercy of relatives. Several years ago , the then Israeli Ambassador was questioned about this on Morning Report . His reply was that the demolitions were legal because the Palestinians did not have building permits. Unfortunately the interviewer was not well-informed enough to reply that Palestinians are not given permits. Jeff Halper of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions has pointed out that, “ While every country has planning regulations, zoning and enforcement mechanisms, Israel is the only western country that systematically denies permits and demolishes houses of a particular national group.”

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Israel has demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian houses since 1967 in its ongoing campaign to, in the regime’s own words "judaize Jerusalem".

I have heard of course the argument that Caterpillar makes useful farming equipment too. My response to this would be for NZ Superfund to divest from Caterpillar until it stops supplying weapons to the IDF and then reconsider. The D9R is a weapon.

The British company G4S is the world's largest 'security' corporation.

As reported in the Guardian in June of this year,
"G4S helps the Israeli prison service to run prisons inside Israel that hold prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory, despite the fourth Geneva convention prohibition of the transfer of prisoners from occupied territory into the territory of the occupier. Through its involvement in Israel's prison system, G4S is complicit in violations of international law and participates in Israel's use of mass incarceration as a means by which to dissuade Palestinians from protesting against Israel's systematic human rights abuses.”

"G4S also provides equipment and services to the Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank that form part of the route of Israel's illegal wall and to the terminals isolating the occupied and besieged territory of Gaza. G4S's role in Israel's brutal occupation and abhorrent prison system is unacceptable.”

"More than 200 Palestinian children are being held in Israeli prisons. At least two of the jails where Palestinian children are detained – Ofer in the West Bank and Al Jalame in Israel – are supplied with security systems by G4S.”

"Several organisations, including UNICEF in 2013, have documented the ill-treatment of the children inside these prisons. UNICEF reported that the abuse of Palestinian youngsters trapped in the Israeli prison system is 'widespread, systematic and institutionalised'. "
The other 3 corporations that I mentioned: United Technologies, Boeing, and Raytheon manufacture war products for Israel to use against civilian populations: Blackhawk Helicopters, F-15A fighter jets, diesel engines for Merkava tanks, bombs.

New Zealand is hoping to get a seat on the UN Security Council. The original purpose of the UN was to 'rid the world of the scourge of war'. If NZ sincerely wants to play a positive role in achieving this noble purpose, it should withdraw NZ Superfund from military corporations even though these sorts of investments are lucrative.
My request to the NZ public is to lobby politicians to ask the Guardians of the NZ Superfund to divest from the corporations I have mentioned. I don't mind admitting that I have a special interest in what is happening in Israel and the OPTs because I have been there, I have seen things, and I have met Palestinians and Israeli human rights activists too, who want outside , non-violent help, to bring justice and freedom , for the good of all, to their part of the world.

I suspect that the public would be aghast to learn that we as a nation are profiting from ongoing cruelty.

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