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Author Topic: Money trails?
Rufus Polson
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Babbler # 3308

posted 17 October 2005 03:00 AM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You know, in most conflict situations around the globe, progressives tend to follow the money. We look at who's profiting from what's going on. In Africa we talk about who's after the diamonds and other resources. In Haiti we note the foreign-owned sweatshops and the small local elites profiting from the oppression of the majority. In Iraq we talk about oil, Halliburton and so on. Often we talk about the profiteers in the arms contracting business.
In Israel we talk about tribal issues. Settler groups pushing the agenda, collective wants and deliberate forgettings of the Israeli people, advantage for Israel as a nation. Some of the posters who are pro-Israel talk about tribal issues among the Palestinians.

Only rarely do we ever notice that, for instance, Ariel Sharon is making megabucks through corruption. But there's a lot of money at stake. At the simplest level, there's all that US military aid. And the culture of militarism and crisis always seems to make corruption easier--asking questions about where the money goes? You're unpatriotic!
Take all those settlements. Sure, some of the little ones are these trailers on a hilltop. But the bigger ones are huge housing developments. And the government subsidizes the rent. But, here's these great big housing complexes, on land just appropriated free from the Palestinians. Who's the rent being paid to? Who "owns" these places? Who in government decides who gets to "own" these places? Who bribes the people in government who decide who gets to "own" these places? Who bribes the people in government who decide whether it's OK to expand the settlement and let someone "own" some more housing developments? Big money. Plenty reason for some bigwigs to be trying to keep the conflict going.

But I haven't heard a lot of people talking about that kind of issue with Israel. It's all religion and who killed whom when and advantage at the nation-state level. And I'm not saying that stuff is unimportant, but why is it that with Israel we don't seem to look at the capitalist stuff, the kind of thing we always ask when it's, say, the US involved?


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 17 October 2005 04:51 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Not surprised. Just to cite one related example, it's pretty straightforward to notice that Israel's relatively insular society (if you're Jewish in Israel, the odds are pretty good you know someone politically connected in some fashion - not hard when there's only 6, 7 million people crammed into a tiny country) and tradition of nearly-universal military service creates numerous opportunities for retired generals to parlay their long years of service and personal connections into gaining preferential access to bids on government contracts, just to name one example.

Also, the privatizations occurring in Israel are, to my vague knowledge, rife with the same corruption problems as pretty much anywhere else. The usual - undercutting the share price to worsen value to the taxpayer and enhance value to the relatively few shareholders, as well as kickbacks to the politicians rigging the privatization, et cetera.

There is a very good point being raised here. Who in the Israeli home construction industry is the primary bidder on government contracts for new settlements, and is there a general lurking in the background who is politically favorable to the Likud party, and thus brokered the contractual agreement?

I also would not be surprised if elements within the Histadrut (Israel's primary labor union) are siding with the construction company for the narrower objective of expanding jobs for their workers. A noble pursuit, the protection of labor, but in doing so I think they may be largely avoiding the fact that the jobs generated depend on the grossest exploitation of the Palestinian Arabs. Is it possible that the Histadrut and/or the construction unions are either exerting wilful blindness or have been essentially bribed with high wages to look the other way?

[ 17 October 2005: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ohara
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posted 17 October 2005 08:53 AM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by DrConway:
I also would not be surprised if elements within the Histadrut (Israel's primary labor union) are siding with the construction company for the narrower objective of expanding jobs for their workers. A noble pursuit, the protection of labor, but in doing so I think they may be largely avoiding the fact that the jobs generated depend on the grossest exploitation of the Palestinian Arabs. Is it possible that the Histadrut and/or the construction unions are either exerting wilful blindness or have been essentially bribed with high wages to look the other way?

[ 17 October 2005: Message edited by: DrConway ]


Before making such allegations at least some proof would be nice. DrConway do you have any evidence at all which suggests that Histadruth would engage in such behaviour? If so I will be the first to condemn its actions. Till then how fair is it to cast these ugly questions?

From: Ottawa | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 17 October 2005 11:11 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Unions have been co-opted before. If a union official is corruptible, a bribe can lead to some profitable concessions by the union that the rank and file had no desire for.

Or, if there is high demand for a union job, then workers who get paid lots of money might naturally want to keep the money coming rather than turn down work and end up losing a job because someone else got hired who needed the money.

That having been said, the Histadrut has rightly, and commendably, opposed the Sharon government's extreme right-wing privatization craze. But they're stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they put a "hot edict" on Occupied-Territory settlement construction, nonunionized workers will still end up taking the jobs because the money's there, and generally, nonunion employees + construction industry = unacceptable accident statistics. Unionized employees tend to have better safety records, mainly because the collective agreement insulates workers from unacceptable demands by the foreman.

So, they can refuse the work and be blamed for poor safety records in the usual blame-shifting game corporations pull on workers, or they can take the work and not think about who it is they're depriving of a place to live.

But ohara, don't try and put words in my mouth with the usual drive-by smear jobs that seem to be all too common among the pro-Israeli contingent. If I was saying all this about Canadian unions you wouldn't flap your gums even to come up for air.

[ 17 October 2005: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
johnpauljones
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posted 17 October 2005 12:17 PM      Profile for johnpauljones     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
drconway, ohara was right to ask for some proof. it was not a drive-by it was an in your face and deservedly so.
From: City of Toronto | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 17 October 2005 12:23 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by DrConway:
But ohara, don't try and put words in my mouth with the usual drive-by smear jobs that seem to be all too common among the pro-Israeli contingent. If I was saying all this about Canadian unions you wouldn't flap your gums even to come up for air.

Hey. You posted speculation and he asked you to back it up. That's not a smear job. If you can't take a response like that to your argument, then you might want to rethink posting your argument in a discussion forum where there are people from both sides discussing the issue.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
edwin
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posted 17 October 2005 12:49 PM      Profile for edwin        Edit/Delete Post
I didn't know much about Histadrut, but a quick search shows some interesting things:

For a land without a people:

quote:
In 1924 the Meyersons moved to Jerusalem, and Golda began a series of positions as an official of the Histadrut - General Federation of Labor, and became a member of its "inner circle." Over the next three decades, Golda Meir was active in the Histadrut, first in trade union and welfare programs, then in Zionist labor organization and fund-raising abroad, and later still in political roles. She was appointed chief of the Histadrut's political section - designed to use the Histadrut's growing power to advance Zionist aims such as unrestricted Jewish immigration.
http://www.zionism-israel.com/bio/golda_meir_biography.htm

quote:
In order to realize the aims of Zionism and build the Jewish national home, the Zionist movement undertook the following practical steps in many different realms: …5. Established and monopolistic concessions. The labor federation, Histadrut, tried to force Jewish enterprises to hire only Jewish labor
http://www.wrmea.com/html/focus.htm

quote:
…to refuse to take up issues such as the attempt to ban the Workers Advice Centres in Israel which serve unrepresented Arab workers, (since the apartheid Histadrut does nothing for Arab workers)…
http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2005/07/greenstein-gives-labour-zionist-quite.html

quote:
Due to its centralized power, it has provided a forum for leaders through the years, to play a critical role in Israeli politics. The Histadrut's founder was David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister.

quote:
It should be noted that traditionally the Histadrut excluded Arab workers and encouraged campaigns to replace Arab with Jewish labor; it was argued that the unorganized and poorly-paid Arab workers were a threat to the organized Jewish workers. As Israeli writer Michael Shalev has explained, though they didn't make it explicit, the Histadrut labor elite feared that the logic of collective action in the market arena might lead Jewish workers to join with their Arab counterparts in struggles against Jewish employers. This would have contradicted the core commitment of the labor movement to place the Jewish working class at the head of the nation-building struggle.
http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/7/30/31033/4004

From: canada | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 17 October 2005 01:33 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
Hey. You posted speculation and he asked you to back it up. That's not a smear job. If you can't take a response like that to your argument, then you might want to rethink posting your argument in a discussion forum where there are people from both sides discussing the issue.

The point is, I have speculated based on a chain of reasoning that starts with basic human fallibility as a starting point. If I'm expected to have that called an "ugly accusation", then I certainly fear for any discourse that doesn't require a million footnotes.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
johnpauljones
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posted 17 October 2005 02:47 PM      Profile for johnpauljones     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by DrConway:

The point is, I have speculated based on a chain of reasoning that starts with basic human fallibility as a starting point. If I'm expected to have that called an "ugly accusation", then I certainly fear for any discourse that doesn't require a million footnotes.


no from what i see i would think this is the so-called "ugly accusation"

quote:
I think they may be largely avoiding the fact that the jobs generated depend on the grossest exploitation of the Palestinian Arabs. Is it possible that the Histadrut and/or the construction unions are either exerting wilful blindness or have been essentially bribed with high wages to look the other way?

From: City of Toronto | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
blacklisted
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posted 17 October 2005 03:07 PM      Profile for blacklisted     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
actually ,i think there is some effort being made to work together,cooperatively.
http://tinyurl.com/7vxl3
"At a meeting in Brussels today organised by the ICFTU, Shaher Sae'd, General Secretary of the the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and Amir Peretz, Chairperson of the Israeli trade union centre Histadrut, discussed a series of key issues facing the trade union movements in Israel and Palestine and agreed to move forward quickly on finalising a joint cooperation agreement between the two organisations. Key issues for the agreement include access for Palestinian workers to employment in Israel, relief funds for Palestinian workers and their families, action to prevent and resolve cases of exploitation of Palestinian workers, implementation of a March 1995 Cooperation Framework, and perspectives for future cooperation between the two organisations."

From: nelson,bc | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 17 October 2005 04:38 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
jpj, ask yourself this question:

Would you walk away from a job paying $25 an hour even if you knew that it might involve construction work on an Aboriginal reserve where the contractor didn't give first-preference hiring to Aboriginals on reserve?

Or consider this:

How many workers in the CAW in Ontario voted conservative because Mike Harris said he'd give them a tax cut?

It's not hard to find examples of workers that act in ways that oppose class interests. That's not an "ugly accusation", it's just an acknowledgement, stark as it is, of human weakness, fallibility and imperfection.

And unfortunately, such actions often work in favor of moneyed interests (read: rich people) who are often politically well-connected (read: Who can influence the government more than you can).

[ 17 October 2005: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
johnpauljones
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posted 17 October 2005 05:12 PM      Profile for johnpauljones     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
its not that i disagree with you drconway, in fact these above examples are very fair. its just that the word "bribe" is loaded and suggests criminal malfeasance. hence i can understand ohara's concern.
From: City of Toronto | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
ohara
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posted 17 October 2005 06:51 PM      Profile for ohara        Edit/Delete Post
I apologize for not making myself more clear. DrConway you may have a point but when you suggest that the Histadruth may have taken a bribe you are saying it broke the law. I still feel that accusing anyone or any group of a criminal act is an ugly accusation.
From: Ottawa | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 17 October 2005 07:37 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
When I say "bribe" I speak metaphorically. It used to be a common practice in the 1950s and 1960s to "bribe" workers with high wages to keep productivity up and strikes down.

Same principle.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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