Memorandum submitted by Alpha Pools Ltd.
My name is Candice Shinaar, and I am a British
expatriate living in Israel since 1980. In 1984 my husband and
I started a swimming pool company called Alpha Pools. We have
travelled the length and breadth of the country building pools
for Jewish and Arab customers from Nahariya in the North, to Elat
in the South, and on both sides of the Green Line.
We employ Jewish and Arab workers from within the green line and
beyond to help build our pools.
The nature of our business has allowed us to
experience first hand, on a daily basis, the kind of changes and
developments that have taken place over the last few years concerning
Israeli/Arab work relations.
Although we are not able to address all the
issues this committee will be looking into, we are certainly more
than qualified to offer pertinent comments concerning the impact
of regional developments on trade and employment, as well as proposals
for aid initiatives in the development of Palestinian society.
1. THE IMPACT
1.a Employment within Israel.
We have employed Palestinians since we started
our pool building company in 1984, and have experienced the significant
changes since September 2000.
Once we could easily hire Palestinians from
the many pick-up points around the country. We would drive them
to the work site, and at the end of the day we would either return
them to the pick-up point, or very often we would drive them back
to their homes. Many Palestinians became "staff" as
they would be employed for the entire season. Some would work
for us for successive seasons.
However, all this has changed after September
2000 with the start of the "intifada", and the ensuing
Israeli security measures.
The main employers of Palestinians laborers
are privately owned businesses, such as restaurants, and building
contractors etc. I know I speak for most of us when I say that
our biggest concern is "trust". Not only for our personal
safety, but also over the quality of work. We have costly experience
of the Palestinian strategic decision to disrupt and damage Israeli
businesses. In our pool construction business we have suffered
deliberate sabotage by some Palestinian workers drilling holes
in PVC underground water pipes so they would leak, and pouring
wet cement into them so they should be blocked, stuffing stones
into electricity cables so the electrician can not push his wires
through, and we have caught them pretending to tighten screws
on the pool's construction components so they will come apart.
Unfortunately these actions by a few adversely reflect on their
innocent fellow workers causing an inevitable breakdown in trust.
These are just a few examples of the sabotage
tactics we have encountered in our line of business; other Israeli
employers of Palestinians can tell you the methods they have encountered
in their line of business. Because it has proved to be both dangerous
and costly to employ Palestinians during the last three years,
they are being replaced by foreign workers from places such as
Thailand and Rumania. Israeli employers feel safe and do not have
to worry about willful damage. This is an important point to bear
in mind when considering suitable actions to facilitate the reemployment
of Palestinians by Israeli private businesses. There will be no
point in pressuring the Israeli government to take security risks,
if the Israeli employers themselves are not prepared to take them.
1.b. Attracting business to the Palestinian
Many Israeli businessmen, used to travel over
the Green Line to buy goods from Palestinian manufacturers and
merchants, especially in the furniture and textile industry.
However, since the Intifada, it is no longer
safe for an Israeli to enter Palestinian cities and towns. There
has been lynching and murdering of Israelis who have lost their
way and accidentally driven into Palestinian territory. Israeli
businessmen who once helped the Palestinian economy, have now
found new suppliers in other places around the world.
In the true spirit of living side by side, Israeli
families used to flock to the Arab villages and cities like Tulkarm
for outings and shopping sprees, as well as to enjoy the many
good restaurants which attracted thousands of Israelis on the
weekends. Not only did the Palestinians enjoy Israeli customers
and patronage, but also a brisk foreign tourist trade, especially
in places like Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jericho. These areas are
now too dangerous for Israelis or tourists to travel. What was
a once a very prosperous trade and cooperation for Israelis and
Palestinians has effectively been shut down due to Palestinian
1.c. Outside investors
There were no shortage of business ideas and
proposals before September 2000 either. Both the Israeli Government
and the international private sector were drawing plans for new
ventures that would boost the economy and provide employment for
both Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinian decision to use
terror put a halt to these initiatives, and they will continue
to be on hold until terror is renounced.
These three aspects of the Palestinian economy,
(employment within Israel, attracting business to the Palestinian
territory, and outside investments in the region) all have a common
denominator. They have come to a halt solely because of Palestinian
terrorism. This committee may examine and reexamine the impact
of Israel's security measures on the Palestinian economy, but
the bottom line is, were it not for their strategic decision to
wage war on Israel with daily terror attacks, their economy would
have continued to flourish, as it was doing prior to September
As it is abundantly clear that terrorism has
had a disastrous effect on the Palestinian economy, the committee's
first priority should be to develop programs that will end terrorism.
With all the goodwill in the world from the
international community, and generous donations for projects to
stimulate the Palestinian economy, the Palestinian people need
first to renounce terror and focus their attention on healthy
methods of peaceful nation building, and achievements in excellence.
Everything else will flow from that point.
The Palestinians need to regain the trust of
the Israeli people, foreign investors, and tourists. There is
no shortage of trade opportunities and business ventures, but
the Palestinians can only tap into this resource by ending terrorism.
Easier said than done, and that is why they
will need outside help from international NGOs. This committee
has already received ample evidence of the Palestinian Authority's
corruption, as well as evidence of how the Palestinian Authority
systematically brainwash the population to aspire for martyrdom.
When the people are obsessed with death and destruction, they
have no thoughts of building a viable economy.
Programs should be developed not only to make
sure that hateful incitement is banned from the school system,
media, and religious sermons, but it is actively replaced with
projects that promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
This is the role of aid in supporting political
solutions to the conflict. This is also the role of aid in assisting
20 It may be useful for the Committee to learn, that
contrary to allegations about Israeli settlements depleting water
resources due to the building of private swimming pools, our experience
is that very few pools have been built in these areas, and Alpha
Pools has only built a handful of small semi public pools for
the whole communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Together
with that, one only needs to fill a pool with water just once.
Proper maintenance and filtration means that the same water is
used year after year. I am not an expert on the water situation,
but I can say with certainty that the sparse pool building in
these areas are not a cause of water depletion. Back