Daily Israel Report

Workers: Arabs Promoted 'Palestine' on Ministry's Shekel

An Environment Ministry "roots trip” to Hungary workers turned into a propaganda coup for two Arabs on the trip, Jewish witnesses said
By David Lev
First Publish: 7/7/2013, 4:42 PM

Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial
Flash 90

In the spirit of coexistence and understanding, a union representing the Environment Ministry sponsored a “roots trip” for workers – including two Arab workers – to Hungary, that was to present the history of Jewish communities throughout the centuries, and especially during the Holocaust. The two female Arab workers were happy enough to join the trip – but it turned out they were interested not in Jewish history, but in Arab politics.

The two Arab workers took upon themselves the role of “ambassadors from Palestine,” Jewish workers who were on the trip told Arutz Sheva. Workers have been strictly forbidden by their bosses from discussing the events of the trip, but speaking anonymously, one of the workers described several loud arguments between Jewish members of the group and the two Arabs.

In one incident, the worker said, the Arabs were asked at a restaurant where they were from and – in front of the Jewish members of the group – loudly proclaimed that they were from “Palestine,” a statement that caused a near-brawl between the Arabs and the Jewish members of the group. “We went there to represent Israel, and we were all expected to do just that, without bringing politics into it,” the Jewish worker said, adding that members of the delegation had been warned that they would face a disciplinary hearing if they complained to the media, police, or Ministry officials about the incidents.

In response, the Environment Ministry said that “we are proud that two Arab workers participated in the delegation, which conducted a memorial ceremony for Holocaust victims in Budapest. The two workers, together with other members of the delegation, which was sponsored by the Histadrut labor union, respectfully participated in the events with Ministry officials.

“Complaints about 'threats' and other negative phenomena on the trip, as far as we are concerned, are completely false, and their only purpose is to mar the good relations between the workers,” the Ministry added. “We regret that a single conversation in Arabic between the workers and a seller at a food stand, in which a Jewish worker recognized the word 'Palestine,' has been blown up out of proportion.”