Wednesday, April 15, 2015

  • Wednesday, April 15, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
Human Rights Watch has released a 74 page report alleging that Palestinian kids are being employed illegally in Jewish-owned farms in the Jordan Valley.

Others have critiqued the report.

NGO Monitor pointed out:
As with many other HRW accusations and publications on Israel, as documented by NGO Monitor, the claims in this publication are entirely unverifiable and based solely on interviews. HRW provides no evidence that it even attempted to confirm any of the claims, many of which quote children, independently. Furthermore, in this instance, the allegations are inherently unverifiable, since there are no permits, pay slips, paperwork, or other documentation for the supposed child workers. Indeed, according to an Israeli official interviewed in in response to HRW’s allegations, “It is a horrific lie. There is no justification for employing children, not just morally and legally but financially as well.”

As the publication’s methodology section makes clear, HRW’s researcher (Bill van Esveld) began with a conclusion condemning Israel, and then sought evidence to persuade the intended audiences, particularly journalists readily influenced by NGO allegations.
UK Media Watch noted:
A 74-page report by HRW on the Israeli use of illegal Palestinian child labor appears to have misled readers by using a photo which actually illustrates the Palestinian use of illegal Palestinian child labor.
(After this was noticed, HRW silently changed the photo on the report.)

Anyway, we cannot believe a word HRW says. As CAMERA reports:
HRW researcher Bill Van Esveld claims that Palestinian children "have no option to work on Palestinian farms. Most of them don't exist anymore."
However, this VOA article from February notes:
According to the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry, there are 1,000 Palestinian farms in the Valley employing 12,000 workers. They produce crops for local consumption as well as for export to Arab countries, Europe and Asia.

How many farms were there in the Jordan Valley under Jordanian rule? We don't know. HRW certainly doesn't even try to find that out. They just say "most of them don't exist."

The bias is, as usual, obvious.

In terms of wages, not to justify paying any kids less than the minimum wage, but HRW claims that " "most earned only 60 to 70 shekels per day." However, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the average wage for Arab farmers working in the West Bank under the PA is 58.2 shekels a day. So the kids, even, when "exploited," make more money than adults working on Arab farms! (h/t Ahron)

In addition, the major role of Palestinian Arab middlemen in hiding the children is buried in the report, in order to ensure that 72 of the 74 pages blame Jews:

Palestinian middlemen who employ children to work for Israeli settler-employers also evade Israeli laws that prohibit children under 15 from working, and that prohibit children from working during school hours. While Palestinians who work in settlement industrial zones or in the construction sector inside settlements must obtain security clearances from the Israeli military to enter the settlements, those who work in agricultural fields can go to work without such permits. According to Z., 19, who has worked in settlements since he dropped out of school in Grade 10, “if you work for a settlement, they check your huwwiya [identification document], but if you work for a farmer, they don’t care.”
S., who was 16 at the time she spoke to Human Rights Watch, said she left school at age 13 because her family needed her to earn money. She worked in Kalia, a settlement, until age 15, when she was fired, along with other members of her family who worked in the settlement. S. did not know whether Israeli labor inspectors ever visited her settlement, but said she hid when on her way to work because of her age. “I would hide under the seats in the [middleman’s] bus on the way [to Kalia] whenever we saw a soldier or security guards, because [the middleman said] I was too young to work,” she said. “Sometimes the soldiers stopped the bus and I told them I forgot my identification card at home. They always let me through.”99 (Israel allows the Palestinian Authority to issue identification documents only to Palestinians aged 16 and above). In some cases, middlemen “employ” their own children. 
L., 15, said he dropped out of school when he was 13, in Grade 9, to work in Tomer, where he picked and packed asparagus. “My dad is responsible for me, and for 4 or 5 other people. He has 2 wives and there are 14 people in the family, and me and 3 of my brothers left school to work.” L. said he earned 85 shekels per day – above average – for a six-hour shift beginning at 5:30 a.m. and up to 130 shekels if he worked until 4 p.m. The work required him to bend down low to the ground, which gave him back pains, he said. “I used to spray pesticide but I got a bad allergy in my eyes and had to get eye drops at the pharmacy, so now my dad won’t let me use pesticide.”100

(UPDATE: I had misinterpreted a paragraph about wages in an earlier version of this article, and have deleted my section critiquing it. I regret the error. [h/t Victoria])

UPDATE 2: For some reason, HRW isn't telling us about the worse child labor practices in Israel's neighbors:

Jordan

Lebanon

Egypt

(h/t Ahron)


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