David Frankfurter

The boycott bluff: trading to good neighbourly relations

The Middle East is full of contradictions.  It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s bluff. If you call the wrong bluff, you can end up blown to pieces. And if you miss a real opportunity, you can end up a real sucker.

“Peace activists” attack with knives and rocks. “Human Rights” groups willfully ignore the persecution of Christians.  “War crimes” are attributed to self defense, but not to shooting children or pregnant mothers at point blank range.  Judges condemn protection of civilian populations while ignoring the use of private homes, mosques, schools and hospitals as shields for military operations.  Israel is accused of being an apartheid state, even though its minorities can live anywhere, are entitled to all the rights of the mainstream population, and are represented in parliament, in the judiciary and all walks of life.  But when Palestinian President Abbas territories says "I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land" and when selling land to a Jew is punishable by death, no-one even blinks.

But what about the hypocrisy of the tidal wave of delegitimization tactics aimed at Israel, by people who want to fully exploit the benefit of their contact with the Jewish state?

We are asked to shun Israeli academics and universities by a boycott movement headed by Omar Barghouti - who studies for his doctorate at Tel Aviv University.  The same Palestinian Authority that asks the world not to buy produce from "settlements" approves tens of thousands of its citizens to work in those communities. Building them is an obstruction to the peace process - while the PA sends the construction workers to do the work.

So while you are being asked to deprive yourself of the unique know-how and innovation that has brought so many Israeli inventions in every field to the world, and won Israelis and Jews such a disproportionate number of Nobel and other prizes, consider the following.

In March of this year, the hugely innovative Israeli agricultural industry will hold its annual showcase event - the AgroMashov - at which hundreds of Israeli companies will present their unique achievements.  Israel has long been known as an agricultural innovator.  A well known example is drip irrigation systems, which were developed here, and are now exported everywhere.  The organizers invited me to join a preview tour to some of the exhibitors, where I saw

  • a farm which had developed a unique strain of pitaya fruit,
  • leading edge bull sperm collection techniques (did you know that 98% of cattle were born via artificial insemination?),
  • the way the Hebrew University researches the best vegetation to plant in hot climate with little water,
  • a bee farm developing new (and surprisingly tasty!) health products,
  • a nursery applying modern inventory management techniques to factories around the globe supplying fresh spices, flowers and other plants to supermarkets and other outlets,
  • new packaging techniques for vegetables,
  • and more.

From this little taste, I could understand why visitors would come from all around the globe to learn, to share, to form relationships and to shop. But farmers are not the only ones who ignore anti-Israel boycott attempts.  The Palestinians won't deprive themselves of the opportunity.  As in every year, Palestinian farmers and industry representatives will be there in force.  Around 200 have already registered.  Not only that, but a large pavilion will hold exhibits specifically of Palestinian produce and farm machinery produced in the West Bank. And the delegation will be led by Palestinian Agriculture Minister, Dr. Ismail Daak.

This spirit of mutual dialogue, cooperation and trade, which is so essential if we are ever to see peace, is happening outside the spotlight of politics, and without the destructive grandstanding and double-talk of the boycott nonsense.  It is not just happening in agriculture.  The jewelry industry is another example of co-existence.  In July, the annual Jovella jewelery exhibition will be held in Tel Aviv.  For the last four years, the Peres Center for Peace has organized delegations from the West Bank to come and visit Jovella.  Last year they brought 44 delegates - and another 20 Palestinians just turned up under their own steam.

So is it a bluff? And if you are a farmer or in the jewelery industry, will you lose out by listening to the anti-Israel "human rights activists" who urge you to boycott Israeli products and exhibitions, while the Palestinians are attending? Confused? Welcome to the Middle East, where real life is rarely as reported in the main stream media. 

David Frankfurter

Palestinian Media Watch censored by YouTube

Itamar Marcus and his relentless team at Palestinian Media Watch have been given the strangest of back-handed compliments.  In exposing the anti-Semitic hate messages broadcast by the Palestinians - especially by Palestinian Authority television and Hamas.  PMW uses YouTube as a medium to "name and shame", throwing a light on Palestinian Authority funded ads, jingles, childrens' shows, musicals,  sermons, quizzes, and other entertainment where Palestinians (especially children) are educated and encouraged to hate, extol violence and terror and to steer them away from any possibility of peace.  These shows are intended for the Arabic speaking audience in the Palestinian territories.  But PMW shows them in all their glory, translated and with commentary, so that the world can see how much pressure they will need to bring to bear to effect real change in the Palestinians if peace is ever to be a possibility.

Palestinian supporters have tried to censor the exposure of their hate and vitriol, and after many years, have finally succeeded - YouTube has closed
Palestinian Media Watch's account, claiming that it has breached YouTube policy by uploading hate speech.  To me it seems peculiar that YouTube would censor Palestinian Media Watch in its attempt to eradicate Palestinian hate eduction by "naming and shaming".

Now here's the rub.  Everyone (including Palestinian supporters) now agree that PA Television is hate speech & incitement to violence. So much so, that it's been banned from YouTube.  That same hate speech is directly paid for and closely controlled out of President Abbas' office, which is in turn largely funded by international donors - with the UK and EU leading the pack.

Aside from letting all our friends know of this preposterous situation, protesting to YouTube, and asking your local media why they don't cover this censorship, I suggest that we should ask our elected representatives why taxpayers money is being poured into violence and corruption - including the corruption of the minds of children.  Why are governments propping up a regime that pushes hatred and war instead of peace?  When will the world show in action that it understands what REALLY stands in the way of peace in the Arab-Israel conflict?
David Frankfurter

UNIFIL complicit in Lebanese ambush?

The best summary I have seen so far of the northern border incident, is by friend Richard Landes, writing at Pajamas Media. (Click on the link below to read it.)


Israeli Officers Ambushed on Northern Border

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 - by Richard Landes

An Israeli soldier was killed, and another wounded, by Lebanese army forces in an apparently pre-planned provocation.

Read   | Comments 

Most baffling, and as yet unanswered in military briefings or media coverage is the role of UNIFIL in all of this.  UNIFIL has confirmed that the Israeli activity was coordinated with them, that the Lebanese army was aware of the activity, that the IDF was within Israeli territory: there was no reason for the Lebanese to open fire.  So from here the questions abound.


It is clear from the photographs and videos issued by international news agencies very quickly after the clash that the incident was prepared for and staged. Photographs and footage was prepared to be sent out within minutes - long before the truth surfaced - leaving an indelible media impression. It is also clear from the photographs that as the scene unfolds, until seconds before the actual firing takes place, the UNIFIL forces were relaxed and at ease with the snipers and RPG gunners taking careful aim at the Israelis.  Then something strange happens.  A video shown on Israeli TV, taken and directly translated to Hebrew from first footage gives the Lebanese version.  From about 5 seconds into the video, UNIFIL  soldiers start waving and shouting at the Israelis to “stop”, “stop everything”, “get down”  and “go back”. Were they staging a show for the cameras?  Given that UNIFIL knew that the IDF was in Israeli territory and that there was no reason for the Lebanese to fire, why did they shout at the Israelis to stop?  Wouldn’t it have been their job to uphold UN resolutions and tell the Lebanese to hold their fire? 


So once again, we seem to have UN complicity in an attempt to blacken Israel.  UNRWA, UNIFIL, the UNHRA, the Goldstone report, the list goes on.  Every opportunity and every agency of the UN is complicit in the delegitimization of Israel.  One has to wonder whether, in this environment, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will reconsider cooperating with the proposed UN inquiry into the flotilla incident.


David Frankfurter

Gaza: Open Air Prison?

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, exploited his visit to Turkey to curry favour with his hosts, using Palestinian propaganda hype, saying that Israel’s blockade turned the Gaza strip into a “prison camp”. 

Every last Israeli left Gaza long before Hamas' bloody take-over. Closing the borders and even war has not stopped the incessant rockets and terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens and border checkpoints. More than 30 terrorist attacks come out of Gaza each month.  

Applying international law, Israel inspects the constant flow of goods through its borders into Gaza, in an attempt to exclude war material. Propagandists (and it seems European politicians) conveniently ignore the rules of war and international law, and claim these actions to be a form of occupation. They declare that Israel ruthlessly keeps Gazans in poverty.

Visiting international politicians and aid agency representatives are taken to view the deliberately unrepaired damage of the war Hamas provoked. Poverty stricken areas, including families living in plastic tents since their houses were destroyed in the war, are all on the carefully pre-arranged agenda. Israel is obligingly condemned. And more western tax payer money is pledged to the highest ever per capita aid program.

Although of little interest to the mainstream media, Gazan "poverty" is strongly questioned in the blogosphere. No accumulation of facts seems to be able to stop the constant flow of lies, cynically manipulated into very effective anti-Israel (and often anti-Semitic) propaganda.

Even the Palestinian media reports a very different picture. There is an abundance of both basic and luxury goods. It is not clear if it comes via the Egyptian border, underground tunnels, or the thousands of trucks that the Israelis officially allow to stream through their border crossings. But the fact is that there is plenty, and often at very attractive prices.

Ordinary Palestinian citizens say that there is enough to go around - but the Hamas apparatchiks steal it.  

And what of building materials to house those wretched families? Somehow, they don't seem to rank in the Hamas list of priorities. A brand new shopping mall replete with luxury goods, a luxury hotel, a  fancy restaurant, an olympic size pool and a fancy jail  to lock up prisoners accused of crimes such as "passing information to the Palestinian Authority" all make it into the list of latest completed projects, though.

Electricity shortages? Also an internal problem. Seems that Hamas collects electricity bills from the end user & then steals the money - expecting the Palestinian Authority and international donors to pay the Israeli suppliers. When the suppliers want their overdue money before providing more goods, who do you guess is blamed?

But those wretched Palestinians are suffering. Then again, life expectancy, infant mortality, and even cell phone penetration statistics show Gaza to be better off than other Muslim countries – and in many cases better than most places on earth!

Forgotten is the Economist report of 2004 that the West Bank and Gaza rank amongst the most obese populations in the world. 

Clicking on the links embedded above will bring you to lots of reports and pictures showing the truth.

But what about the charge that Israel has turned Gaza into a large open-air jail? We all value freedom of movement. We want to be able to leave our country of residence either permanently or temporarily for vacation, to receive better medical care, to advance our education or business. But of course, we all know that no-one can get in or out. Don't we?

Israel can be forgiven for being very cautious about allowing enemy aliens through its territory - after all Hamas has officially and openly declared its intent to wipe Israel off the map and sends regular rockets across the border to remind us all. Nevertheless, many people do cross the border - usually for humanitarian reasons, often to receive medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.

But what everyone seems to forget is that Israel is not Gaza's only border. Fellow Arab country Egypt, which has supported the Palestinian cause since it was first invented, is linked to Gaza with a little more than 11 km of border, and an official crossing at Rafah.

So why an open air prison? The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) regularly exposes the real problem in its monthly reports. Here it is from this month's bulletin:

Violations of the Right to Travel and Movement

Gaza residents are still suffering from the unavailability of passport books since November 2008 until the end of this current month. According to ICHR information obtained from officials from the Ministry of Interior of the Deposed Government, the MOI in the West Bank does not send passport books for citizens in Gaza Strip which entails depriving them from the right to travel and movement. In addition, it affects most of those in urgent need for traveling abroad for seeking medical care, university education, students and thousands of expatriates whose passports have expired and require renewal.

International travel, even via Egypt, requires a passport. The PA won't issue Gazans with passports. Gazans can't travel. That's Israel's fault. Clear?
David Frankfurter

Join the BUYcott

The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement is becoming increasingly strident, using every conceivable tactic to delegitimise Israel in every forum. Academic, trade and industrial boycotts are called - often using tricks and lies that we are all sick of hearing.  Generally, the impact in economic terms is small. But often, the campaigns and counter-campaigns surrounding each proposed boycott generates so much publicity, that even unsuccessful campaigns generate significant damage to Israel's standing in the world court of public opinion.

Letters to the editor, to academic institutions or shop owners targeted, and all the "usual" activities are important.  But friends around the globe who have been faced with boycotts in their local communities have told me from personal experience that there is one tactic that has consistently proved a winner.  A Buycott. 

Wherever a boycott is announced or threatened, local supporters go out and BUY the product involved.  They let their friends know and ask them to help.  And then they let the store owners know how pleased you were with the purchase. And after the boycott has failed, go back and buy again.  Make the boycott a long term a bonus for the store and for Israel!

Faced with failure, Palestinians have resorted to exaggeration and barefaced lies to encourage their activists around the world to keep up the program.

Here's the latest example from the
Palestinian Maan News Agency, which reports a claim by the Palestinian responsible , Omer Qabaha, that one such success of his BDS activities is that the Israeli dairy Tara has moved its manufacturing plant from "occupied" Katzrin in the Golan Heights.

So I checked, and got the following reply:

Dear David,

Tara has no factory on the Golan Heights and there were never any products marketed under the name Tara processed at the dairy processing plant on the Golan
Shabbat Shalom

Ralph Ginsberg
Israel Dairy Board

So there! 

Join in a successful campaign for Israel!   Ask your stores to stock Israeli products, look for them, buy them, talk about them and encourage your friends to buy them.  If you are in business, look for ways to promote Israeli products in your product range or include them in your manufacturing processes.  If you need a starting point, I would be pleased to help you source Israeli inputs.  Then, if you are really lucky, someone will declare a boycott and help promote your business.
David Frankfurter

Red Cross hosts Hamas deportees

The Red Cross has always been grudging in its attitude to Israel. Its decades of reluctance to accept Israel's Magen David Adom into its fold until the US Red Cross withdrew funding was a prime example. For many years, the Red Cross had pretended that its hands were tied, as Israel's Star of David emblem did not conform to its standards (while the Palestinian Red Crescent was fine).

And today, the Red Cross says it is pressuring Hamas to allow access to captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Somehow, in a perverted way, the Red Cross claims some sort of victory in its activities in the region:

"One of our main achievements is that we have been able to visit nearly everyone detained in connection to this conflict, with the exception of Gilad Shalit," Pierre Dorbes, deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Israel and the Occupied Territories, told Haaretz on Tuesday.

Dorbes conveniently forgets Ron Arad, or in fact any Israeli who has been captured in the past by Arab armies or militias. Of course the Red Cross has had access to all prisoners held by Israel. Israel acts within the norms of international law and morality even toward terrorists. And the Red Cross claims the credit!

Of course, the Red Cross is powerless against rogue regimes, like Hamas - isn't it? Academic Israel hater Noam Chomsky tells us in "Turning the Tide: US intervention in Central America and the struggle for peace" that the Red Cross "in July 1982... threatened to leave El Salvador because of human rights abuses by the armed forces...".

So in Gaza, has the Red Cross ever taken such a strong stand - if not for Gilad Shalit, then for the citizens of southern Israel who were subjected to barrages of rockets and missiles? For the daily abuses of human rights in Gaza as Hamas attacks its own citizens, steals their aid, uses them as human shields, implements kangaroo court death penalties, and much more?

How does the Red Cross pressure Hamas?

In East Jerusalem, the answer is clear - although the only media to have carried the story so far is the print edition of Israel's Hebrew language Yediot Aharonot and the website of the Muslim Brotherhood. (I leave you to ask your local media why this story is of no general interest.)

To quote Yediot Aharonot "Hamas does not allow Red Cross representatives to visit captive Gilad Shalit, but it doesn't stop the international organisation from granting asylum in its East Jerusalem offices to Hamas leaders." Israel has issued deportation orders for subversive activity against four Hamas leaders. One is in an Israeli jail, waiting the outcome of a high court appeal against the order. The others are photographed being served drinks by a Red Cross employee at a table laden with refreshments in the Red Cross East Jerusalem offices, which has granted them asylum and advised the Israeli authorities that they are under Red Cross protection.

Israel has warned that they are not protected there...but if they are arrested, I can just imagine the sudden media interest and outcry.
David Frankfurter

New approach on Gaza blockade

“Obama calls for new approach on Gaza blockade”


I think most Israelis agree with him. New rules need to be formulated, which are simple, straightforward and easy to understand.

Here’s a suggestion:

Whatever Gilad Shalit has free access to is allowed into Gaza. Whatever he is denied will also be denied. That includes visiting Red Cross staff. And access to medical care in Israel. And guns. And bullets…. Let Hamas draw up the list.
David Frankfurter

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

I received all these in today’s batch of emails.
Read  these:
1. Abbas tells U.S. Jews: I would never deny Jewish right to the land of Israel

2. Palestinian President repeats acceptance of Jews' claim to the land of Israel, citing the Koran.
THEN watch this video
3. Abbas rejects Israel as Jewish state

THEN read this:
4. Abbas not truthful to Obama; denies PA incitement

Who is this man trying to fool?
David Frankfurter

Cleared for publication: Terrorists on board the Mavi Marmara

Yesterday evening (Sunday), the IDF issued the following press release in Hebrew on its website at http://dover.idf.il/IDF/News_Channels/today/10/06/0631.htm 

I have translated it for you here, transliterating the names as best I can.

Cleared for publication: Terrorists on board the Mavi Marmara

Sunday, 6 June 2010, 20:33

Now released for publication: Terrorists working for organizations such as Hamas and al - Qaeda were on board the Mavi Marmara, which was stopped by the IDF on her way the Gaza strip. One of the terrorists tried to enter Gaza in order to establish and train a Hamas commando unit.

IDF website

Released this evening (Sunday) for publication: Among the passengers who were on board the ship Mavi Marmara were some directly related to terrorist activity.

Prominent among the terrorists are:

American and British citizen and Hamas activist Ken O'Keefe, born in 1969. His objective was to reach the Gaza Strip in order to establish and train a Hamas commando unit.

Moroccan born French citizen and Hamas activist Ahmad Umimon, born in 1959.

Fatima Mahmadi, born in 1979 of Iranian descent, lives in the United States and is active in the “Viva Palestine” organization. She tried to bring prohibited ielectronic components into the Gaza strip.

Turkish citizen Hassan Iynasi, born in 1982, member of a Turkish charity trust, regularly transfered financial aid to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad;

Turkish citizen Hussein Urosh, assistant to the IHH organisation, who was supposed to arrive in the Gaza Strip to assist the transfer of members of Al Qaeda via Turkey.
David Frankfurter

What to do with the cargo?

Hamas cleverly created a win-win situaton for itself in manipulating "peace activists" into creating an armada against the Gaza blockade, and injecting a group of IHH Jihadists onto one of the boats. If Israel had let the armada through, Hamas would have an effective military win, with a new open arms channel via the Mediterranean.  Just a matter of time till another war - although this time with rockets that reach Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and even Cairo.

Israel chose the option of allowing Hamas a public relations win instead.  I guess we are better at war than we are at PR.  Instead of managing the collateral damage, we created a complete disaster.

By now the web is full of explanations of both why Israel was in the right, behaved correctly and legally and how the terrorists disguised as peace activists won the day.  I don't like to bore my readers with information available elsewhere, so I simply direct you to a website set up by a collegue - one of the many good sites out there on the subject. http://www.talkgaza.com/flotillafacts/  

One item that hasn't yet received much attention is the disposition of the humanitarian aid that the armada had on board.  I don't want to labour the point that Israel had from the outset offered to transfer the aid overland through the channels that have seen so many thousands of tonnes of supplies transferred till now, in order to prevent the arms smuggling channel being opened up.

The issue is more interesting.  Israel loaded all the expired medicines, children's toys, electric wheelchairs and miscelaneous items into trucks and sent them off to Gaza, to find that Hamas refuses to let the goods into their territory!  Either an unsupervised path for goods is opened up or they don't want it!   These guys are PR professionals!  Once again using the suffering of their own people to create a PR disaster for Israel.

And what will we do?  Probably let the goods sit around on the trucks or in a warehouse rotting, losing value, taking up valuable space and requiring resources for supervision, guarding etc. just waiting to become aother expensive PR catasrophe.

Any better ideas?

Hamas should be given a 24 hour ultimatum. If you want the goods, take them immediately.  If not, we should distribute anything that meets Israeli standards to the Arabic speaking Druze and Muslim Bedouin communities who have shown their loyalty to the State of Israel over the years.  After all, none of Hamas, the donors, nor the Turkish sponsors of the armada would want Jews to benefit from their efforts.

An alternative is to take a major expeditionary force of the army, dirve the goods into Gaza, unload them somewhere convenient for us and leave.