Union Boss Gripes Over Checkpoint Delays for Israeli Workers

Danny Bonfil demands government guarantees to protect civil servants from being penalized for late arrival

Danny Bonfil, Jerusalem, March 2012.
Emil Salman

You think Palestinians suffer long waits and other humiliations at Israeli checkpoints, what about the poor Israeli civil servants who live in the settlements and arrive to work late because of backups due to security checks?

Danny Bonfil, the controversial and combative Histadrut labor federation chief for the Jerusalem area, is determined to do something about it. In a letter to Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz he threatened “organized measures” if the government didn’t ensure that civil servants’ pay wasn’t docked for arriving late to their jobs.

“I deem it necessary to contact you urgently due to the serious problems faced by the workers in the north of the city and Ma’aleh Adumim, as a result of intolerable checkpoints,” Bonfil wrote.

“The Histadrut intends to take organizational steps in the event that the Civil Service Commission does not instruct the deputy directors general of the Civil Service to act in light of the situation in which the workers find themselves through no fault of their and ensure that their wages aren’t affected as a result of any delays.”

Bonfil has a long history of outrageous behavior. He was the union leader who arranged this year for truckloads of trash to be dumped in front of the Finance Ministry to protest the treasury’s handling of a dispute over Jerusalem’s municipal budget.

In a dispute last year he reportedly arranged for the water in the finance and interior ministries to be turned off, although he denied it. On another occasion, also in 2017, Bonfil blocked the tourism minister and the ministry’s director general from entering the ministry.

In a battle over parking privileges in a government-owned parking garage, he and other union leaders blocked the entrance to the facility, denying parking to the same workers he was supposed to be helping, and vandalized the property.

His letter to Hershkowitz was apparently written without the knowledge of the national Histadrut leadership and to date has received only a noncommittal reply from the Civil Service Commission. “The letter arrived by mail last night. It will be treated as usual,” a spokesman said.

But a senior official expressed outrage. “Unbelievable brazenness,” he said. “There’s no difference between workers who wait in traffic jams for security or for any other reason. Until peace comes, they should leave for work earlier rather than threaten the commission.”