Letter to the Cape Times from Maurice Ostroff
response to the open letter by several S. African Jews to Minister Davies
Bass and other signatories to the open letter to Minister Rob Davies supporting the proposed regulation on product labeling.
Your claim that Israeli businesses like Ahava "exploit the natural wealth of Palestinian territory"
by using Dead Sea
mud is inaccurate. As I am sure you would not willingly mislead your readers please allow me to offer verifiable facts so
as to give you an opportunity to correct the misinformation you supplied.
Ahava products are made from raw material supplied by the Dead Sea Works that is situated in undisputed
pre-1967 Israeli territory. The Dead Sea is not Palestinian territory. It is bordered partly
by pre-1967 Israel, partly by post-1967 Israel
and by Jordan. In fact Jordan too, has established industries that extract chemical from it.
The Ahava product is made in Mitzpeh Shalem a community founded in 1970 in Area C that is controlled by Israel in
terms of the Oslo accords. It is not in the same category
as recently built outposts which are the subject of controversy.
As concerned human beings, a factor that you cannot ignore is that the boycott you support would affect
the livelihood of 15,000 Palestinians.
the prevalent uninformed debate and misleading terms in common use prejudice rather than enhance a two-state solution. Inflammatory accusations of apartheid and generalizations that don't distinguish between
villages like Mitzpeh Shalem and Gush Etzion on the one hand and outposts like Migron on the other, stifle efforts at sincere
negotiation. Unsubstantiated allegations of illegality and ambiguous terms like occupied territory are all obstacles to reconciliation.
the international community accept without doubt that Gush Etzion for example that was founded before the state was declared
and was destroyed by Jordanians in 1948, will remain in Israel.
completely with the need for truth in labeling and as the raison d'Ítre of the new South Africa is anti discrimination,
I expect that the regulation will be non-discriminatory and framed to enable ALL consumers to check whether ALL products offered
for sale are produced under conditions to which they don't object. I refer for example to carpets and footballs made in the
Far East by child slaves who work from toddlerhood to adolescence, from dawn to dusk, in horrid conditions every day, without
needs to be accurately labeled as CNN reported that the chocolate industry uses
workers as young as 10 years in the Ivory Coast
where child labor, trafficking and slavery are rife.
to home sensitive consumers should be able to avoid buying "blood diamonds" from Zimbabwe since the BBC reported on their origin as a place of torture where sometimes
miners are unable to walk on account of beatings.
Davies has stated that the proposed regulation is not a political but rather a laudable consumer protection move, it follows
the use of ambiguous politically loaded terms like occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) must be avoided. As there is clearly
divided opinion over the meaning of OPT, it is obviously preferable to use the unambiguous and universally recognizable terms
for the territories in question which have been in continuous use for centuries, namely Judea and Samaria.
me to explain the need to avoid ambiguity. In your last paragraph you stated that your aim is the complete withdrawal of Israel from the OPT. But as intelligent well meaning persons,
I believe you intend to convey exactly what you mean. It is therefore important for you to tell readers of your "open" letter
exactly what you mean by OPT. Mr. Davies has stated that South Africa recognizes the 1967 borders of Israel.
If you accept this, do you demand that Israel
relinquish access for example to the Western wall? Or do you accept the concept of the late Yitzhak Rabin, whose footsteps
President Obama urged us to follow, and who, a few weeks before he was assassinated, stated that the new borders of Israel will include Ma'aleh Adumim and the Jordan
consider the OPT as everything beyond the Green Line but many have other views. In his letter to the UN applying for Palestinian
statehood Mahmoud Abbas based his claim on the 1947 UN partition resolution. Omar Barghouti one of the leaders of the BDS
movement as well as Hamas regard all of Israel
including Tel Aviv as OPT.
creates the impression that Israel decided for no pressing reason to invade
the West Bank. But this is incorrect. The undisputed facts are that that during 1966, there
were daily by incursions from Jordan and Egypt
and Syria was shelling continuously
from the Golan Heights, making life unbearable for citizens in the Galilee. In May 1967 Egypt moved forces into Sinai and in an act of war, expelled
UN peacekeeping forces and closed the Straits of Tiran. Israel sent an emissary to King Hussein, to plead with him to stay out of the conflict. He refused. On May 25, Jordan,
Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia massed troops on Israel's
borders. President Nasser declared publicly "Our basic goal is the destruction of Israel”. It was in the resulting, defensive Six-Day War that Israel took Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, not from the
Palestinians - but from Jordan.
of Israelis join you in a sincere desire to arrive at a peaceful resolution to the conflict and we are prepared to make substantial
concessions to achieve this. But we have a problem that I ask you to consider.
It would be suicidal to return to the pre-1967 situation and recent history has highlighted existential security considerations
as described in this video clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytWmPqY8TE0
Since you have publicized strong opinions on the subject, your views are sought as to how to achieve
the withdrawal from the OPT that you urge, while taking the above factors into account.