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Monday, July 22, 2013

Ramallah to defy boycott of Israel?

The Israel-based Fox clothing chain is opening a branch in Ramallah. That could be viewed as a sign of 'normalization' which in most parts of the world would be considered good news: it's the sort of thing that humanizes the 'other.' Unfortunately, that's not the reaction in the 'Palestinian Authority.'
Palestinians in Ramallah on Monday expressed outrage on news that the Israel-based Fox clothing chain was planning to open a branch in their city. Fox confirmed Monday that it would open its first Ramallah branch within several months, and that it would be locally operated as a locally-owned franchise.
Large advertising signs in the city announcing the impending opening of a Fox store enraged Palestinian activists involved in various campaigns to promote boycotts of Israel.
The activists accused the Palestinian Authority government of issuing permission to an Israeli company to operate in Ramallah in violation of Palestinian law, and said they would wage a series of protests to foil plans to open a Fox branch in Ramallah. They also threatened to resort to Palestinian courts to achieve their goal.
The activist said that it was “inconceivable that while the Europeans have decided to boycott settler produces, Palestinians are helping an Israeli company do business in Ramallah.”
The uproar comes amidst plans to restore peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and could potentially prove a flash point for popular discontent as the talks continue.
“It’s very rare for an Israeli company to open under its own name in Ramallah,” says Avi Nudelman, the former CEO of the Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce. While there are numerous products imported from Israel available on Palestinian shelve, such as Elite, Osem, Tnuva and Strauss, an Israeli-branded store is novel.
“I hope that there won’t be any problems. Ultimately it’s a good thing, and I hope it works,” he says.
Swedish-based IKEA, which has two stores in Israel, announced last week that it is also planning to open up stores in the Arab-populated areas of Judea and Samaria. Maybe the Europeans need to reconsider their boycott of the Jewish state?

In the meantime, please note that there are some - many - 'Palestinians' who are willing to do anything to prevent normal economic relationships between Israelis and 'Palestinians.' Maybe Kerry should change his focus? As we used to say when I worked in the US, 'business is business,' although other things can clearly follow from it.

By the way, I used one of the least racy Fox ads for this post (yes, that's Bar Refaeli). If you follow the link, you'll find that the JPost used some racier ads. I wonder whether they'll use those in Ramllah....

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