Claim: Labeling of 'settlement products' would have little economic impact
Haaretz is claiming that a European requirement to label 'settlement products' would have very little economic impact
So how much do Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Golan Heights and
East Jerusalem actually sell in Europe? It’s not a number that’s easy
to come by, as the Israeli government publishes no separate figures on
exports from these disputed areas – presumably out of concern it might
be seen as tacit acknowledgement of their questionable status.
But according to figures obtained by Haaretz from a
high-ranking authority on foreign trade matters, exports originating
from the settlements are a mere drop in the bucket, at least in relative
Figures compiled by this well-placed source – who
asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter –
show that in 2012, the last year for which they exist, industrial
exports from the West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem to the
European Union totaled $100 million, accounting for less than 1 percent
of Israel’s total industrial exports to this huge trade bloc (excluding
diamonds). Industrial exports from the West Bank, Golan Heights and East
Jerusalem to the entire world totaled $250 million that year,
accounting for slightly over half a percent of the total.
According to this source, the overwhelming majority
of industrial exports from the settlements are not finished goods, but
rather, components – pipes, tubes, spare parts and the likes. In other
words, the type of merchandise that rarely finds its way onto
supermarket or department store shelves, where it could be picked out
easily by discerning consumers who pay attention to labels.
Agricultural exports from the settlements to Europe,
the source estimates, total no more than “a few million dollars.” Most
of these are dates and grapes grown on kibbutzim and moshavim –
different forms of cooperative settlement – in the Jordan Valley.
Of course, that assumes that the impact of 'labeling' can be limited to Judea, Samaria and 'east' Jerusalem products can be limited to products coming from those areas. As you already know, the goal of the BDS'ers is to boycott
. And even Haaretz is forced to admit that could well be result.
“From my talks with the Europeans, it would seem to me that they are
looking for any possible way right now to shake up the status quo,” said
Arie Arnon, a professor of economics at Ben Gurion University of the
Negev, who specializes in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“Although the volume we’re talking about is
extremely small,” he continued, ”the fear is that it will develop into
something bigger. Some stores many not want to deal with the hassle of
putting special labels on goods from the settlement, so they may just
stop bringing in goods from Israel entirely. This could also develop
into a secondary boycott, with European companies and consumers cutting
off ties not only with businesses operating in the settlements, but also
with those located inside Israel that are also active in the
territories, like the banks."
According to the high-ranking foreign trade source,
about 600 factories owned by Israelis operate in the West Bank. In
recent years, international pressure has forced several of the big
exporters among them to move their production facilities inside Israel’s
internationally recognized borders. These include the Barkan winemaker,
the Bagel Bagel pretzel maker, the Swedish-owned Mult-T-Lock lock
manufacturer, and most recently -- in wake of a huge international
backlash—the SodaStream seltzer machine maker.
This week, the Ahava skin care products manufacturer
based near the Dead Sea, announced that it is contemplating setting up
another factory near its existing facility but within Israel proper.
In 2006, Gush Shalom, the peace activist group
headed by Uri Avnery, published a list of several hundred products made
in areas beyond the Green Line.
Five years later, the Knesset passed the so-called
“anti-boycott law,” which penalizes persons or organizations that call
for a boycott of Israel or the settlements. Concerned that it might be
sued for heavy damages under the law, Gush Shalom removed the list from
its website. (An appeal by Gush Shalom and other organizations against
the law was basically struck down earlier this year).
Yarom Ariav, a former director-general of the Israeli Finance
Ministry and senior executive at Israel Chemicals, one of the country’s
largest exporters, said the new European directive, which has yet to be
approved, is more symbolic than anything else. “In terms of the amount
of damage to the economy, it’s negligible,” he noted, "although when it
comes to individual exporters, it could definitely be significant.”
In Ariav’s view, the main danger of the new labeling
decree is that it could trigger a chain reaction. “It could definitely
cause the boycott movement against Israel to expand, and if there is no
peace agreement on the horizon, I definitely see that happening,” he
says. “There’s a dynamic involved here in which people get used to the
idea of Israel and anything connected to Israel being considered
tainted. The next phase could be an undeclared consumer boycott and then
an all-out boycott.”
The impact of the labeling - if God Forbid it comes to pass - goes far beyond a few hundred thousand dollars in lost exports. Nazi Germany started on its way by boycotting Jewish businesses. If we start with labeling and it has no impact, no one really knows what will come next.
Labels: BDS, European anti-Semitism, Holocaust