I don't know if I've ever mentioned this here before but I work for a Caterpillar dealer. Not Caterpillar. A Cat dealer. There's an important significance there. Well important to me anyways.
So yesterday I was helping the CEO archive his email up to the network. The guy had 19,000 messages in his deleted items (!!!) and his mailbox was killing my beloved server. So I decided to fix it.
While working on his machine in Outlook I just happened to notice a sudden flood of incoming email from various addresses. Normally I don't read my users' email without a damned good reason but the subject lines were all fairly similar and piqued my interest. There were around ten different variations that I saw but here's one of them.
Subj: Resolution re misuse of Caterpillar equipment
I write you today in the memory of Rachel Corrie. Rachel was killed on Mar. 16, 2004 by a Caterpillar bulldozer as she tried to stop the Israeli army from bulldozing a Palestinian doctor's home in the Gaza strip.
The Israel Defense Forces' abuse of Cat equipment to destroy Palestinian orchards and houses is widespread, systematic, and thoroughly documented. The human rights watchdog group Amnesty International has criticized the Israeli pattern of razing of Palestinians' houses as an "act of collective punishment and a grave breach of international humanitarian law."
The fact that Caterpillar's equipment is being utilized in such a destructive fashion has to worry you in your capacity as a Caterpillar dealer.
With the use of Caterpillar's equipment, the Israeli military has demolished 12,000 Palestinian families' dwellings since the l967 Six Day War -- the vast majority being unrelated to security concerns -- as documented in Israel's press. Israeli Committee against House Demolitions reports that this destruction has resulted in 50,000 Palestinian civilians becoming homeless. According to the United Nations, in one month in 2002 alone, Cat's equipment razed 300 multi-family apartment buildings in Jenin, making 800 families homeless, many becoming refugees for the second time.
Further, undercutting the base of the Palestinian agricultural economy, Israel employed Caterpillar equipment to destroy about several hundred thousand olive and other orchard trees, in 2000-2001.
The Sisters of Loretto and the Sisters of Mercy are offering a resolution for approval at the annual Caterpillar meeting April 14th, 2004, responding to Israel's attacks on civilians with the use of Caterpillar's equipment in the ways I've described in this letter. The resolution asks the company to scrutinize the Israeli military's deployment of Cat machinery. I encourage you to promote this critical resolution.
As a member of A Jewish Voice for Peace I urge you to share with the Board of Directors your understanding that continuing to sell to Israel injures the image of Caterpillar by association with Israel's tactics. Moreover, the Caterpillar corporation's ongoing delivery of equipment to the Israeli military while aware that Israel will most probably utilize the products in the cause of terrible destruction is a violation of the Caterpillar Corporation's Code of Worldwide Business Conduct. It's bad business to keep supplying Caterpillar's machinery to the Israeli army.
And last, I hope that you will announce a public statement of concern on Israel's hostile use of Caterpillar equipment.
Address was here but I removed it because I'm chicken.
I'd never heard of this. So I asked him if he got a lot of these. He said yes he received probably several hundred a day in two week waves. He said he'd talked to other dealer owners and they were getting them as well. Then he asked if I could filter them out for him.
Not a problem.
They were all originating from electricmembers.net which, while I have no idea what they do nor do I care, is probably just an email list server. They may be sending out other less-annoying email but they won't be delivered by my server. They've lost my trust and made it onto my blacklist.
Now I am not the most political of people. In fact I tend to stay out of it not only here on /. (Hi Montag!) but even out in meatspace. It's not that I don't care I just don't think it's worth arguing about. People are going to have their opinions and beliefs and more than likely nothing I say is going to change them. Perhaps it's the jadedness that comes with being almost 40 but that's my experience.
Anyways after getting back to my desk I decided if I was going to find out where they got his email address from. Because this obviously wasn't something he went out and signed up for. He was being targeted specifically. They knew who he was and what he did.
I hate that.
Googling my little tail off I came up with the following sites.
Photostory: Israeli bulldozer driver murders American peace activist
Alright. I'm sorry the girl was killed. It's a shame. But maybe, just MAYBE, she should have had more sense than to stand in front of a nine-ton bulldozer when it's shoving dirt. We have a lot of those D-9's on the yard here and let me tell you they are some big sons of bitches. You are not going to win against them. Not trying to sound too callous here but I read this and thought "This would make a good Darwin Award."
Yeah yeah I'm going to Hell for that one. Whatever.
Then we have this one:
Caterpillar Executives "Arrested" For War Crimes
Now I'm pissed. There is no way in Hell the people working in that office deserved that kind of treatment. What addled mind can possibly make the connection that Cat is any way responsible for what the Israeli government is doing with the equipment? And if we follow their reasoning then by me doing my job and ensuring my users have the tools to conduct business then I'm guilty by association.
I'm a war criminal and didn't even know it. Outstanding.
For a long time now I've viewed militant activists of any sort as pests of the lowest order and this just reinforces that belief. I'm all for free speech but I also retain the right to be pissed about what you're saying. Especially if it reeks of smacktardedness.
But now we have the motherlode of related sites:
Yeah baby! It's own domain! Oh and it's got Cat's trademarked logo on it too. I'm sure Cat's lawyers are just going to LOVE that.
And a Call to Action on April 23rd. They're going to march on Cat Headquarters in Peoria, IL. I may have to show up for that. With a stick.
But anyways... on this site there's a "Send Caterpillar a Letter" link that states it will go to Cat's Board of Directors. I can't prove it but I suspect this is how my boss is being targeted. Obviously it's not only the Board but dealer owners as well. Oh well. It's blocked now.
Blaming Cat for what the Israeli government does with the bulldozers it receives not from Cat but from the U.S. government as part of a foreign aid package is, for lack of a better word, retarded. Cat has a contract with the government to supply them. It CANNOT legally break this contract without suffering penalties and no amount of civil action is going to change this.
And why email my boss about it? We're a dealer. We have no influence whatsoever on Cat corporate policies or the business it conducts on its own. On top of that I can guarantee you that we have never supplied anything directly to Israel. Hell we don't even sell anything outside of our own state. That's how the dealer network operates. You stay in your own territory.
All of this once again raises the question I've asked for years now.
What is WRONG with people?
Wait. Don't answer that.