Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Arab boycott news

A month ago, there were headlines trumpeting the "fact" that Saudi Arabia dropped its long-standing economic boycott of Israel as a pre-condition to joining the World Trade Organization.

Unfortunately, the Saudis deny it:
JEDDAH, 22 December 2005 — Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that it would maintain its first-degree boycott of Israeli products despite joining the World Trade Organization (WTO).

An official at the Commerce and Industry Ministry denied reports that the Kingdom had lifted the boycott. “The Kingdom has lifted only the second and third degree boycott of Israel in accordance with a decision taken by the GCC summit 10 years ago,” the official said, adding that the Saudi accession to WTO was not linked to the lifting of the boycott.

Whether the WTO will still allow Saudi Arabia to join even though it is explicitly breaking the rules remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, AP reports that Israel has a healthy underground trade with Arab countries anyway:
CAIRO, Egypt Dec 26, 2005 — Staff members at a Riyadh hospital got a surprise when they looked at the fine print on the paper cups they were using. Workers in a storeroom at a Dubai hospital were similarly shocked when they took a close look at the tags on a large shipment of uniforms, towels and sheets.

The labels said 'Made in Israel,' according to recent newspaper reports from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which have laws that ban imports from the Jewish state.

Experts say the camouflaged trade, with just a small portion receiving publicity, has been going on for years between Israel and its officially hostile Arab neighbors.

The hidden trade is worth about $400 million a year about two and a half times what Israel sold to its official Arab trading partners, Egypt and Jordan, in 2004 said Gil Feiler, the director of Info-Prod Research, a Tel Aviv consultancy specializing in Arab markets, and an economic professor at Bar Ilan University.

Others say such estimates are significantly inflated.

'All the figures are very sexy for the press, but the reality is much less than what is written,' said Dan Catarivas, foreign trade director at the Israeli Manufacturers' Association.

The true amount of Arab imports from Israel is impossible to establish because neither side makes it public, with Israeli-made goods moving to Arab customers through third countries Cyprus or the Netherlands, for example, which list the shipments as local exports.

This naturally upsets the Arab "intelligentsia" who bemoan the fact that Israel gets any recognition whatsoever from anyone.

As was the case in 1946, the Arab boycott against Israel is an ineffective weapon that hurts the Arab people more than it hurts Israel. One would think that after 60 years it would be obvious that Israel's economy is the strongest in the Middle East despite the official boycott, and that the Arab nations that trade with Israel are benefitting. It is also obvious that the entire reason that the Palestinian economy is in a shambles is because of the intifada, the Palestinians lost their jobs in Israel.

Arab pigheadedness once again hurts Arabs while trying vainly to hurt Israel.

"The Society for Resisting Normalization with the Zionist Enemy" was not available for comment.