Hasbara Fellowship arranges group trips to Israel for students from North America. The purpose of the trips is to equip the students to stand up for Israel and speak the cause of Israel when they return home. Grisha Yakubovich was the group’s guide (Yakubovich gave a lecture at MIFF’s Israel Conference 2019 in Kristiansand). Together with their group of American and Canadian students, I took them to the Gaza border as well as Judea and Samaria.
Besides learning a lot from being involved, the tours were also an eye opener for me. There’s a lot we do not hear about in the media. The story of the company Ofertex is one of them.
Ofertex is a family-owned company that is a world leader in textile recycling. You can read more about the company here.
The company is located in the Barkan industrial area of Samaria (Shomron) close to the Barkan settlement.
The company has 100 Palestinian and 20 Israeli employees. The Palestinian employees have worked in the company for several generations. The same salaries are paid to the Palestinian and Israeli workers. In addition, all employees have the same social and health rights.
The general manager of the company and the employees would very much like to show us around and tell us about what it is like to work in Ofertex. For their safety, they are anonymous.
I asked the general manager if they have ever had BDS activists visit, here is his answer:
“No, we do not and I’m sure if they came to visit – they would not be able to argue for common sense in BDS.”
“Palestinian workers are happy to work here because they have orderly conditions. They get a much higher salary here than they would with a Palestinian employer (in Israel the minimum wage is 5500 shekels, in the Palestinian territories it is 1500 shekels). They get the same salary and the same social benefits as our Israeli employees receive. “
“We have big problems with BDS in Europe and Scandinavia. We tried to sell our products to Norway and Sweden. We had to abandon the agreements with them because BDS simply put a dent in the wheel for us. It’s really annoying because there is a huge market for our products.European customers demand environmentally friendly and organic products – which we are world leaders in. BDS also destroys the Palestinians’ opportunity for well-paid jobs, which allows them to support their families. BDS does not understand at all, how reality is connected in Israel. We all live with each other. BDS ‘description of Israel, the Israelis and our relationship with the Palestinians has no hold in reality. But, they do not bother to face reality – it does not serve their interests. “
We also spoke to one of the Palestinian employees, his name is Adam. He is married to an Arab-Israeli woman. They live in one of the nearby Palestinian villages.
We asked Adam some questions:
How do you feel about working in an Israeli company?
“I am happy to work in Ofertex. Conditions are good, the salary is good and colleagues are sweet. “
“My father has worked here for 24 years – he recommended me to the company. I do not feel different from the other employees here. We have a good time together and we get along well with each other.”
“Everyone in our village works in Israeli companies and we are happy about that.”
Have you also worked for a Palestinian employer?
“Yes, I have worked for a carpenter. I got 2000 shekels a month there. At Ofertex I get 6000-7000 shekels a month.”
What do you think of BDS? Among other things, BDS has made sure to boycott your products in Norway and Sweden.
“What is BDS? Why do they want to boycott our products? We produce quality products and we need our jobs here. If I could not work here, I would not be able to afford to get married or start a family. . “