Opinion

Only anti-Semites Don’t Buy Calves in Israel

Amira Hass
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A calf is fed in Israel.Credit: Dudu Bachar
Amira Hass

If there’s one lesson to be learned from the terror wielded by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett against Palestinian farmers, it’s that there’s no need to broadcast every act of natural resistance to our tyrannical regime. Ways could have been found to stop buying calves from Israeli importers gradually, without announcing it in advance. The ground assumption is that the evil of the only Jewish democratic state in the world knows no bounds, and evil must be countered with sophistication.

Fatah tries constantly to reclaim its reputation as a liberation movement. Its top officials bomb their constituents with promises couched in resolute patriotic rhetoric that soon dissolve like soap bubbles. But the decision to stop buying calves from Israel is different. It’s a small part of Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh’s strategy to optimize the economic potential of each area of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by capitalizing on its strengths, improving the quality and reputation of its goods, creating new products and diversifying trade.

Promoting the agricultural sector and its products, some of which are bound for export, is the plan’s top priority. If economists have doubts about the plan’s feasibility, it’s because of Israeli control. And if cynics infer that its goal is to safeguard the pampered survival of Fatah’s dinosaurs, it should nevertheless be said that Shtayyeh’s plan is based on a concept. That is to say that despite the Israeli prohibitions, Palestinian society can and must strive to expand its freedom of choice and action and to improve its position, economic and otherwise.

In the Jewish and democratic state, this concept is an unforgivable offense. The Palestinians are refusing to be our vassals, and it’s common knowledge that only anti-Semites refuse to be the vassals of the enlightened Jews. The upright response was to prohibit the export of Palestinian agricultural products. You want to export? Then buy calves from Israeli importers.

There’s nothing new about harming Palestinian agriculture. It’s long been an integral part of Israel’s domination over the Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. Agriculture is land and it is water sources. It is witness to the rootedness of every Palestinian family here. It is livelihood, history and wide open spaces. Why did we come here, to this country, if not to erase and destroy all this? Israel’s calculated sabotage of agriculture in the Gaza Strip – farming and the sale of produce – is among the factors that brought it to its current catastrophic state. In the West Bank, settlers have pledged a holy oath to terrorize Palestinians out of their remaining lands and water sources. Every day, army officers and jurists in the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories come up with new rules designed to prevent Palestinian from working their land, trapped behind the separation barrier, and the state euphemism machine announces “state land,” that is, giving Palestinian land to Jews.

In the best Judeo-Israeli tradition of “Vengeance is mine,” Bennett and his henchmen in COGAT hope to sic the Palestinian farmers on their leaders, to force them to back down. Let us hope, then, that the Palestinian Authority finds a way to minimize the harm to each farmer, as it has promised, and that bonds of trust, partnership and solidarity can be built among the PA, the Palestinian consumers and farmers. In the meantime, perhaps there will be a miracle, and a few countries will come to their senses and tell Israel, “The buck stops here,” because they can no longer use their taxpayers’ dollars to compensate for the economic blows that Israel keeps landing on the Palestinians.

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