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The War of Ideas in the Middle East

CalPERS Investment Committee Meeting
May 13, 2013, Sacramento

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Ann Polivka – Chico Friends Meeting – PERS member

I'm Ann Polivka. This is the first time I've been speaking at a gathering like this. And most of what you deal with is very different from my regular work life. I'm a retired nurse practitioner with Butte County with the health department. And as well, I'm a member of Chico Friends Meeting, which is a Quaker church, so I speak from those two perspectives.

The one that I speak to as a public health nurse practitioner is about the health aspects of Caterpillar, which is one of the corporations that PERS, and myself as a PERS member, is supporting. I feel so uncomfortable, I can't tell you, intensely uncomfortable with the fact that my funds, you know, those that PERS has access to, are being used for the provision of Caterpillar armored bulldozers.

An American citizen, Rachel Corrie, several years ago was killed while she was standing in front of a Gaza physician's homestead in Gaza, part of Palestine. And those were paid for by partly because of the investments that PERS has with Caterpillar.

PERS had the power some years ago to divest from companies that were invested in South Africa and South Africa's system of apartheid, and that worked very well to finally, finally, finally pull back United States support. Eventually, there were sanctions against South Africa.

But it started with boycotts and divestment.

And I feel that PERS has the capacity to do that if you will use your power that way. You have a lot of power. And I just -- I'm pleading with you as a PERS member to use what authority you have to divest, to pull back the funds that you have from Caterpillar, the armored bulldozers. They do great work. Caterpillar does. In northern California we have them all over in the fields and the countryside plowing fields and doing their bulldozer work, but not in Palestine, not when it's against international law plowing up people's olive orchards and destroying their homes.

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