Although Israelis spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Palestinians goods each year, these products are usually sold under Israelis labels, since Palestinian-marketed goods are a tough sell.
Correction added on 7 March 2012.
A video item on the Media Line today tells of a Tel Aviv trade fair designated to help open doors for Palestinian agricultural products such as olive oil, to break into the Israeli market – in their own name. It turns out that Israelis are happy to buy Palestinian goods, says reporter Arieh O’Sullivan (sales were reported at $300 million last year) as long as they’re not flaunted as Palestinian. One product that has had some success, the item notes, is the insanely delicious Medjool breed of dates, for which there is more demand than supply. But in general, put a Palestinian cultural or national label on the food and Israeli buyers are much more reluctant. Sounds like a cultural or national boycott to me or more precisely, a modus operandi that desperately tries to keep Palestinians as a political reality out of sight and mind.
Perhaps for Israeli citizens it’s a modus operandi born of despair – but exporters can’t be too despondent: according to the Bank of Israel, the country sold NIS 1.5 billion worth of goods to the Palestinian Authority in 2008 (the latest readily available data), or $400 million.
Still, the Media Line item appeared on a day brimming with good news for the Palestinian economy: the Israeli human rights organization Gisha just reported that Israel has agreed to allow two trucks of date-bars to be sold from Gaza, the first of 13, as part of a World Food Program to feed schoolchildren in the West Bank. That will be the first sale from Gaza to the West Bank that Israel has allowed in five years – a market that, together with Israel, used to make up 85% of Gaza’s exports. It’s only 13 trucks (two so far that have actually left), which is not much compared to the 86 trucks per day that used to leave Gaza, and it’s not clear whether this will just be a one-time allowance.
But then, there are always the Medjool dates.