Op-Ed: S. Africa Boycott May Cause PA Arabs to Lose Jobs
Ron JagerThe writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer. Prior to retiring in 2005, served as the Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psycho education programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. He is currently a strategic advisor at the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Since 1991 when South Africa hosted the infamous “Zionism is Racism” United Nations World Conference against Racism in Durban,South Africa has been at the forefront of global actions and a center of radical anti-Israel activity that delegitimizes the Jewish State.
The conrference was followed later on by the flawed and erroneous Goldstone Report, headed by the South African jurist, Richard Goldstone, after the 2006 Gaza War between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group.
The new South Africa, the home of the original Apartheid system of government-enforced racism, is a nation blessed with an abundance of natural resources despite the prevailing poverty throughout the country. The new South Africa is also a nation that has experienced one of the fastest expanding HIV epidemics in the world, with about 25 % of the adult population infected with Aids.
Recently, the government of the new South Africa adopted a racist and discriminatory policy prohibiting Israeli goods produced in Judea and Samaria from being sold under the label “Made in Israel.” By adopting this policy, the new South Africa is promoting a boycott of Israeli goods. All of the governmental attempts to clarify or justify this should be seen as nothing more than damage control so as to avoid serious repercussions for their controversial policy.
South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has rejected “with utter contempt” suggestions that there were racial motivations for his move to prohibit Israeli goods produced in Judea and Samaria from being sold in the new South Africa. The Minister has gone one step further and has stated that the change would force traders to re-label certain Israeli products to say that they originated in “occupied territory,” rather than to read “Made in Israel” or “Product of Israel.”
Davies is of Jewish ancestry (not surprising),yet has rejected, and again, with “utter contempt” any attempt to explain this change as being related to his political affiliation even though he has come out publicly and repeatedly stated that he does not support “the effective occupation of the territory outside of the 1967 borders” (also not surprising).
Israel is being hypocritically singled out and expected to provide special labels of origin when they are not applied to products made in dozens of other countries where similar territorial conflicts have existed for tens of years: the Falklands (Argentina & England), Kashmir (India & Pakistan), North Cyprus (Turkey & Cyprus), being only a few examples.
Even though South Africa is not a major Israeli market, the Palestinian Arabs and their supporters are always on the prowl for igniting a full-scale economic onslaught on Israel, even when the “pickings are slim”.
The South African government may not know that according to the most conservative estimates, about 13,000 Palestinian Arabs and their extended families may lose their jobs if Israeli industrials are forced to relocate because of the campaign against Israel.
About 2 years ago, the head of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), Abu Mazen, declared a boycott of the Barkan industrial zone endangering the livelihood of over 4000 Palestinian Arabs who were employed at the time in over 130 factories located in the industrial zone - adjacent to the City of Ariel in the Shomron. At the time, the Shomron Liaison Office invited representatives of the American Consulate in Jerusalem to visit the industrial zone so as to understand the complexity of the problem.
I personally accompanied the political and economic officers from the American Consulate and the American Embassy in addition to other diplomatic officers that were visiting and are stationed in the State Department in Washington, D.C.
The visit was an eye-opener that did much to counter the biased and false narrative that the State Department is regularly force-fed concerning the economic ties between Israelis in Judea and Samaria (Shomron) and the Palestinian Arabs living in the vicinity. Upon meeting with Arab workers and Israeli industrialists, they discovered some interesting facts that totally contradicted what they had been taught to believe is true.
The Palestinian Arabs enjoyed the same worker benefits, including full health and social security/pension rights as Jews employed in the same factories.
Arabs and Jews were employed as line workers and as managers, creating situations in which Arabs were managers and Jews were line workers depending on their seniority and experience.
They discovered that outside of the Israeli industrial zone, the Palestintian Arabs were denied workers' rights or any rights at all, meaning that should they be fired due to a boycott, they will be out on the street with no support at all.
The Palestinain Authority, despite being funded by billions of dollars, does not provide unemployment benefite or workers compensation, nor does it provide health insurance or free education.
So what our distinguished guests from the American State Department learned is that when the PA attempted to enforce a boycott of settler products, it was worsening the situation of its own constituency. And it gets worse - they heard from the Palestinian Arab workers that representatives of Hamas, the terror organization that was competing for political power with the PA, were actively seeking out those unemployed and providing a full gamit of social, education and health services for free, including food handouts, albeit, dependent on becoming a member of Hamas.
The policy propagated by the PA by implementing a boycott of settler products was weakening the PA and strengthening the competing Hamas terror organization. Got that! The PA-initiated boycott of settler products or the even the whole Boycott, Divestment, Sanction movement is weakening the mainstream Palestinian Authority and throwing disenchanted Palestinian Arab workers into the bosom of its chief rival, the Hamas terrorist organization.
Maybe that’s why Israel has never been stronger, enabling 650,000 Jews to reside in Judea and Samaria and build up the Land of Israel.