Activists are gearing up for a day of action on 9 February that will target Israeli agricultural export companies such as Mehadrin and Hadakalim over their role in Israeli settlements and the dispossession of Palestinian farmers.Once again, a bunch of tiny self-proclaimed leaders who pretend to speak for all Palestinian Arab farmers are saying that they want to kill the farms, since the bulk of exports from the Palestinian Arab territories use Israeli exporters.
In a statement titled “Farming Injustice” released earlier this month, all major Palestinian agricultural organizations called for “the launching of worldwide campaigns on 9 February against Israeli agricultural export corporations in light of their deep complicity in Israel’s ongoing violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.”
The reality is, of course, quite different, as real Palestinian Arab farmers work closely with Israel in order to maximize their efficiencies and profits:
On Tuesday (29.1), the Civil Administration coordinated and funded the departure of about 150 Palestinians agriculture workers from Judea and Samaria to the exhibition "Cleantech" - the 17th annual international event for water technologies, energy efficiency , renewable energy, green building , recycling and green transportation, that take place at the Israel Trade Fairs and Conventions Center, Tel-Aviv.. Through the exhibition, the Agriculturists explored the developments in green agricultural.Idon't know who these farmers are if they are cooperating with Israel and defying the "agricultural organizations" whose entire purpose is anti-Israel and whose websites often have nothing to say about farming.
This conference joins a seminar on the use of reclaimed water for agriculture, conducted by the Civil Administration agriculture office two weeks ago (January 15 to 17). During the seminar, 22 representatives from the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture were informed on the use of reclaimed water for agriculture, due to the growing shortage of fresh water for irrigation in the area and to increase the knowledge and awareness of this issue in the Palestinians agriculture farms in Judea and Samaria.
In addition, the Civil Administration agriculture officer, Mr Samir Muadi, held last week (24.1) a meeting with Israel's olive sector manager and with the advisor to the Palestinian Minister of Agriculture, following meeting held in October regarding the Palestinian olive sector. During those two meetings, it was decided on marketing Olive Oil from the Palestinian Authority to Israel, as the olive sector is a central and important sector of the Palestinian agriculture.
In addition, the Gaza DCO coordinated the departure of about 60 agriculture workers from the Gaza Strip to the annual agricultural exhibition of the Arava research and development (R & D) unit held at Yair Station on Wednesday and Thursday (January 30 to 31). The exhibition was attended by representatives of the agricultural crop sectors in Israel and overseas delegations. During the exhibition, displaying crops and technological developments in the field of agriculture, the Gaza DCO agricultural coordinator visit the greenhouses at Ein Yahav that grow tomatoes, peppers, etc.
One part of the screed was interesting:
Earlier Corporate Watch research had shown that Palestinians forced to work in packing houses controlled by Mehadrin are paid as little as 56 shekels ($15) per day.They are forced to work for Mehadrin? is it at gunpoint, or does their employer use whips and keep them in chains?
And what evidence is there that they are being paid $56 a day? Well, three years ago, an anti-Israel organization asked a few Arab workers who were willing to speak to them what they were paid. That's the "proof."
If it is true, then Mehadrin may be breaking the law according to this organization. I'm not aware of any lawsuits brought by "Corporate Watch" on their behalf, though. It must not have been very important.
There are a couple of funny parts about this complaint. One can presume that most Jordan Valley workers for Israeli companies are employed without permits. Companies argue that employment law should follow Jordanian law, not Israeli law, which is how they justify giving a lower salary to those without permits. Yet 2011 statistics show that the poor salaries that Palestinian Arab workers get for illegally working for Israeli companies is roughly the average salary of West Bank Palestinian Arabs who work for Arabs! So while it is possible that Mehadrin or others are not paying the rates they should, it is apparent that the Palestinian Arab workers are getting the market rates, and they are hardly being "forced" to work for the hated Jews.
They can always quit!
But even funnier is that anti-Israel organizations don't usually complain that the Jews are paying the Palestinian Arabs too little - but that they pay too much! The same 2011 article notes:
The increase in the percentage of those employed in settlements does not fit with the Palestinian Authority (PA) plan to completely prevent Palestinian labourers from working in settlements, and to render such work illegal as of 2012. Originally the PA intended to impose punishments of up to five years imprisonment and financial penalties of some US $14,000. The Palestinian Minister of Labour Ahmad Majdalani noted in December 2010 that his ministry is cooperating with the national economic office to establish a fund for loans to workers employed in settlements.In short:
...An additional reason for the increase in the level of those employed in settlements is the large gap between the salary in the Palestinian sector and that in settlements. While the average daily salary in the West Bank stands at NIS 76.9 and in Gaza NIS 46.2, a Palestinian worker in a settlement earns an average of NIS 150 daily.
- The BDSers want Palestinian Arab farmers to lose millions of dollars that they are making today by cooperating with Israeli exporters.
- The BDSers want Palestinian Arabs to stop working for Israelis that pay them double the rates they would get from Arab employers.
- The actual farmers in the territories are happy to work with Israel to make money.
- The actual workers in the settlements are happy to get more money for their families by legally working for Israelis.
The disconnect between the BDSers and the people they pretend to care about can hardly be any starker.
The explanation, of course, is the same explanation that answers nearly every Middle East enigma involving Israel since 1948: the people who pretend to be "pro-Palestinian" are really just against the rights of Jews to have any political power or self-determination.
Once you understand that, the inconsistencies fall away.