By MICHAEL FREUND, JPOST—
In a throwback to its darkest past, the German government recently decided to back an initiative which singles out Jewish-owned businesses and targets them for detrimental treatment. Joining 13 other European Union members, Berlin has reportedly agreed to support efforts aimed at applying special labels of origin to products manufactured by Jewish owned factories in Judea and Samaria.
The goal, of course, is to harm the livelihood of Jewish businessmen and entrepreneurs as a way of undermining the settlement enterprise. Needless to say, goods made by Palestinian-run plants in the territories will not similarly be branded.
This is an absolute outrage, one that is both morally obscene and historically indefensible, and the government of Angela Merkel should be ashamed of itself for going along with such a discriminatory practice. Whatever one may think of the peace process and the two-state solution, it should be obvious that treating merchandise differently simply because the person who owns the factory where it was made is a follower of Moses rather than Muhammad is an act of pure bigotry.
And in light of its own sordid record during the 20th century, Germany and its leaders have a special responsibility to be exceptionally sensitive to such issues, particularly when they relate to Jews. After all, it was 80 years ago, in April 1933, that the Nazis launched a nationwide assault on Jewish owned businesses throughout Germany, painting yellow-and-black Stars of David on storefronts and discouraging people from patronizing them.
This was carried out under the slogan, “Kauft nicht bei Juden!” (Don’t buy from Jews!). Hence, for any German government to stand up and declare: “Don’t buy from Jews,” even if the proposal is limited to the Jews of Judea and Samaria, is downright chilling and should send a shiver down everyone’s spine.
No one is suggesting that Berlin is planning a second Holocaust, but there is no escaping the painful historical irony here.
However contrite Germans have been over their wartime record, they still do not see anything wrong with bestowing special treatment upon the Jews.
But what makes this exercise so exceptionally absurd is that those it harms the most are in fact the Palestinians.
According to statistics compiled by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the territories, more than 23,000 permits were granted to Palestinians to work in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in 2012. Many Palestinian Arabs can be found working for Israeli companies based in one of the nearly 20 industrial zones located throughout the area.
And as a recent foreign ministry report noted, nearly half of these Palestinian workers are between the ages of 18-29, which means that the Jewish settlements are a major source of employment and income for young Palestinians joining the workforce.
Moreover, their average daily pay is 88.3 percent higher than what their fellow Palestinians are making in the Palestinian-controlled areas. All told, their potential annual income, says the ministry, amounts to nearly NIS 1 billion, or over a quarter of a billion dollars.
This means that efforts by Germany and others to delegitimize Jewish-owned businesses in Judea and Samaria could end up impairing the Palestinian economy far more extensively and painfully than Israel’s.
So just who is it that the Germans are really hurting here? The duplicity of the labeling campaign targeting Judea and Samaria is all the more apparent when one considers that no such campaigns are being contemplated for Chinese products made in Tibet, Russian items manufactured in Chechnya or Spanish goods from Catalonia. Only when it comes to the Jewish state do the liberals of Europe insist on drawing a line in the sand.
This is not only hypocrisy, it is hatred, pure and simple.
As the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman put it, “If the only country you want to single out is Israel, that’s anti- Semitism.”
It sure is.