8 February 2013
Cultivating BDS BS
by David Guy (@5MFI)
Few of us and definitely the BDS mob know anything about farming and agricultural economics. With that thought in mind I have been dredging through the annual Palestine in Figures summaries provided by the Palestinian National Authority’s Central Bureau of Statistics to provide some ammunition to counter tomorrow’s Farming
Injustice attempts to intimidate supermarkets stocking Israeli produce. We should note that BDS has dropped the coming from the occupied territories nonsense. They have replaced it with coming from Israeli organisations profiting from the occupation nonsense. That is, in practise is everything coming from Israel.
Normally I would regard any Palestinian stats from official Palestinian sources with as much confidence as Stalin’s tractor production figures. Yet, they do have one undeniable advantage over other statistics. No one can accuse them of fabricating in Israel’s benefit! Unless stated otherwise any figures quoted are the Palestinian’s own.
It’s an article of faith among Palestinians and fellow travellers that everything that plagues their economy, can be laid at the feet of the ‘Occupation’. Palestine 101 if you will. They are not completely wrong. But that’s nowhere near the whole story. How can anyone expect that making war on your closest and largest employer, supplier of raw materials, customer, market, port for your exports, investor and technical partner would not have serious economic fall-out? There are more detail on how Palestine shoots itself in the economic foot (when they are not shooting collaborators in the knees or disobedient daughters in the head) in the Economics of Intifada.
As with every other country Palestine’s prosperity (not just agriculture) is also strongly influenced by factors beyond its control like the world economy – and the weather! It is also influenced by factors within its control like corruption, inefficiency and lack of subsidies.
The overall economy
How any country can be expected to give any assistance at all to those whose openly expressed goal is to destroy them? Did America supply the Japanese with electricity and water in the Second World War? How many jobs did the British provide for Germans in that same period? Yet as the fig. 1 shows some 10% of employment in the Palestinian Territory† comes from working in Israel and the ‘settlements’‡. The PCBS doesn’t divide that into settlements and Israel proper but according to Haaretz that amounted to some 35,000 workers in 2010. That’s 22,000 working with Israeli permission in the settlements and an estimated 10,000 working in the settlements without formal permission, mainly in seasonal agricultural work. Guess who suffers first in a ban on products from over the green line?
The Palestinians have tried to make working for Israel a crime but had to back down when they couldn’t provide alternative employment. I have heard stories that working for the Israelis pays 3X, 4X or even 5X more than they could earn from Arab employers. Others claim this is not true. Palestinians earn about the same as they would if working for Palestinians – that is, they are paid the market rate. Whatever is true, one thing is undisputed that no one is forcing them to work for the Jews.
After a steep drop in the early years of this decade (could the Second Intifada have something to do with that? I think so,) total Palestinian exports have been consistently rising (fig. 2). The extraordinary thing is that Israel is by far the largest market. I don’t know how much of this is consumed in Israel’s domestic market and how much is re-exported but it is a reasonable assumption that some of the produce that BDS wants to stop reaching the customer originates on Palestinian farms. If Israel can’t sell, it won’t buy.
As always, BDS is far more interested in screwing Israel than they are in the welfare of the Palestinians.
Down on the farm
Every time the Hate Israel Lobby discuss the state of Palestinian agriculture they stress that it is an integral component of Palestinian cultural, economic and social life. So it came as a great surprise that at the beginning of last decade it was only made a 10% contribution to GDP. That figure has gradually dropped to the 5.5% today.
It is easy to blame, as they do, Israel for the drop until you learn that agriculture represents 2.5% of total GDP for Israel, considered to be a world leader. It’s not that Palestinian agriculture has dropped so much as that other areas have risen in importance.
The Palestinians haven’t invented the wheel here. The importance of agriculture is dropping everywhere.
After a very steep drop at the beginning of the decade†† (I suspect the Intifada, again) (fig. 3) the total value of Palestinian agriculture has risen and fallen. Some would say has remained reasonably staple. Since 2005 the value has actually risen. The separation barrier, blamed for so much pain to Arab farmers, has actually made very little difference.
In the graph I have combined two areas that actually have little to do with each other. Olive production, because of the symbolism and the total values of Palestinian agriculture. A Metric ton of olives is valued at US$1000. If we follow the blue line we see that some years are very good (2007 and 2010) while others suck (2005, 2007 and 2009). Production in 2009 was slightly under 20 metric tons, yet the total value (all other produce and fishing) was about average for the decade.
Children you have received your first lesson in farming. It is a very risky business.
So evil that 150 Palestinians agriculture workers from Judea and Samaria attended 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.
This is not an article about Israel/Palestine agricultural cooperation but it could be. Cooperation exists and at an official level. For example, Israel supplies pesticides for Palestinian agricultural areas, specifically protecting palm trees. Palestinians don’t engage in BDS because it hurts them more than it does Israel.
Pretending BDS helps Palestinians is organic fertiliser from the rear ends of equines.
|Palestinian farmers from Judea and Samaria (AKA the Palestinian Authority) at Cleantech 2012, Tel Aviv|
- More hypocrisy and lies from the BDS crowd. Pretty funny, actually, Elder of Ziyon, 5 Feby 2013
- New US report shows excessive spending on PA security services, Missing Peace, 6 Feb 2013
- Extensive agricultural activity, Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, 30 Jan 2013
- PA lightens ban on working in settlements to ease Palestinian unemployment, Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz, 28 Dec 2010
- Agricultural cooperation and aid for Palestinians, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 Jan 2012
† ‘Territory‘ not ‘Authority’ nor ‘State of Palestine’ or even just ‘Palestine’? Not my term but their’s.
‡ It’s not completely clear how settlements are defined. That figure probably includes those working in those parts of Jerusalem that were in Jordanian hands before 1967.
†† The PCBS didn’t provide figures for the year 2000. I have no explanation.
The agricultural year starts in October of every year and ends in September of the following year.
For the economic minded among you, note that the figures for agriculture and fishing come from Gross Domestic Product by Economic Activity at Constant Prices for the years indicated. From 1999 to 2007 the base year was 1997. From 2008 the base year was 2004.