Calves join protest
Calves join protest Elad Gutman

Dozens of farmers from all over Israel congregated this morning (Thursday) at the home of Naftali Bennett, the Defense Minister, in Ra’anana and called upon him to take measures that would end the Palestinian boycott of their products.

Some of the farmers’ families, unable to bear the financial burden of the boycott, brought along calves and placed them in Bennett’s custody on a lawn opposite his home “to enjoy the grass.” In the farmers’ words, “We have no more money to feed them. The Defense Minister is invited to take care of the calves while he works to end the Palestinian boycott.”

For the past four months the Palestinian Authority has been closing the crossings to Israeli cattle goods and confiscating Israeli produce, while Israel has allowed Palestinians to continue to transfer cattle goods the other way.

The organizers of the protest explained that "after dozens of attempts to persuade decision makers in Israel, especially the Defense Minister who is responsible for opening the crossings, the farmers have despaired and come to Bennett's home, calling upon him to use all the means at his disposal to stop the boycott."

“We expect Bennett to work for us,” Ron de Levi, a farmer from Moshav Mehola in the Jordan Valley, stated. "We hope that he understands the national impact and economic significance of a Palestinian boycott on Israeli farmers. The absurdity is that he has a huge arsenal of tools available to stop the Palestinian boycott, but to this day he has not used them and at the same time he has allowed the Palestinians to transport goods to Israel as if nothing had changed."

After about half an hour, Bennett went out to the protesters and talked to them. They told him they were facing financial collapse and that he must intervene. "The issue is not how many calves come in to Israel but a free market,” said Aharon Amnon of Peduim, a moshav in the Negev, when speaking to the Defense Minister. “The Palestinians cannot block Israeli goods while we, the State of Israel, freely allow them to bring in truckloads of agricultural produce and laborers as if nothing has happened."