Monday, May 22, 2017

Israelis and Palestinians as Co-Workers

Two stories indicate that if the is willingness by leaders on BOTH sides to live together, there is reason for hope. Two stories this week are worth reporting.


a-   Sodastream’s Palestinian Employees To Receive Renewed Work Permits

Sharon Udasin  May 22, 2017

Workers brush aside long commute to work for CEO Birnbaum, a ‘man of peace.’

 A group of 74 Palestinian employees will be returning to work at SodaStream, after the government rescinded their work permits more than a year ago.

“SodaStream is our second home,” Ali Jafar, 42, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“When you have the opportunity to return home, you return.”

After years of loyal work at the company – and hours of daily travel – Jafar and his Jerusalem-area Palestinians colleagues received notice in February 2016 that the government would no longer be renewing their entry permits. Last week, however, they learned that their permits were finally being renewed – and that they would likely be able to return to the company’s Negev Desert factory within just a few weeks.
“If you like someone, you have to go to him wherever he lives,” said Jafar, who worked for SodaStream for three years.

The Palestinian employees had originally worked at the company’s former headquarters in the West Bank industrial zone of Mishor Adumim, near Ma’aleh Adumim.

In 2015, SodaStream moved from Mishor Adumim to an expansive campus at the Idan Negev industrial area, a joint work zone for the Beduin town of Rahat, the Jewish community of Lehavim and the Bnei Shalom Regional Council.

While 500 Palestinian employees lost their jobs after the Mishor Adumim plant closed, 74 of them, including Jafar, were able to continue working at the firm’s new plant in the Negev until the government eventually revoked their permits.

“We are delighted to welcome back our 74 devoted Palestinian employees, who are able to join their 1,500 friends at our Rahat facility in the Negev,” Daniel Birnbaum, global CEO of SodaStream, said on Sunday.

“The Israeli government did the moral and honorable thing to grant work permits to our employees, who can now provide for their families and also prove that coexistence is possible.”


b.- Co-Workers

Oded Revivi May 21, 2017

President Trump has described the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians in terms of a business negotiation. Days after taking office he told The Wall Street Journal that Middle East peace would be “the ultimate deal.”

Mr. Trump might be onto something. Conventional wisdom for almost a century has dictated that for peace to prevail, Israelis and Palestinians must be physically separated. But separation is one of the main reasons the conflict drags on interminably. Peace is fostered over generations, through personal bonds and even business relationships.

Most Israelis and Palestinians don’t interact with someone from the other side on a daily basis. The exceptions are the 450,000 Israelis and more than one million Palestinians who live side by side in Judea and Samaria, or what many call the West Bank. The tens of thousands who work together every day in the area’s 14 industrial zones have built the closest bonds.

During his visit to Israel this week, Mr. Trump should drop in on a business like Lipski Plastics in the Barkan Industrial Park, some 15 miles east of Tel Aviv. Half the company’s workers are Palestinian and half are Israeli. They eat, laugh and solve problems together. The Palestinians at Lipski make four times the average wage in the autonomous Palestinian areas. Many are in senior management, with dozens of Israeli employees beneath them. Muslim, Christian or Jew, these people return home each day with a sense of accomplishment knowing that they can provide for their families with dignity and pride.

Islands of peace like Barkan show what could be achieved on a massive scale by a leader with true vision. Sadly, for decades these examples have been largely ignored or boycotted because of the flawed notion that any Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria is an impediment to peace.

The new White House has already brought a fresh perspective to the Middle East. Mr. Trump’s special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, broke with decades of failed State Department policy by meeting in March with a delegation of Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria. He also met with young Palestinians and Israelis from across the political, religious and socioeconomic spectrum. These meetings demonstrated a genuine attempt to understand the reality on the ground, something that has been lacking in international diplomatic efforts for decades. This is how peace will be built.

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