The view from my veranda

Israel Twito and the Barkan Industrial Estate

One of the high points of my year was a visit to a factory! This particular factory is the result of the dream of one man who in his deep humility decided to change his world and the world of those around him. His name is Israel Twito.

Israel Twito and his family lived in Tunisia for many generations. His father was a Zionist and when life for Jews in Tunisia became very difficult as they barely survived under oppression he decided to take his family to the Promised Land. Since it was before 1948 his family encountered Mandate immigration laws that prevented their entry to Israel and they were sent to an internment camp in Cyprus. In 1948 they came to Israel and since he was never a talented student Israel Twito went out to work when he was just 14 and his boss became his mentor and he eventually became an air conditioning mechanic. Despite his lack of formal education Israel had, and has, an exceptional, innovative mind and he decided to build his dream alongside his wife Shoshana and children. He started small, producing parts for air conditioners but then came the fruition of his dream – Israel took his factory to the Barkan Industrial Estate in the Shomron town of Ariel. The factory now employs over 150 people, Israelis, mostly new immigrants, and Palestinians alike all of whom have a personal relationship with Israel. Moshe explains the story better than I, and then I will continue with what we saw.

The factories produce electronics for Smart houses and parts for air conditioning, Israel Twito has registered some 160 patents,  and the Barkan Industrial zone employs 7,000 workers half of whom are Palestinians who live within a very short distance of the factory – indeed the fence that runs beside the factory is already in the PA – indeed the factory next door is in the PA but Israelis are not allowed to work there. Israel and his right-hand man Moshe Levran, arrive each morning and go from worker to worker, be they Palestinian or Russian Immigrants to wish them a good day, to ask how their family is and if they feel good. The Russians say  Sabah Alkhyr to the Russians and the Arabs say Dobroye Utro to the Russians. The warmth and security of the factory are tangible. If Israel sees a particularly bright worker he will pay for them to go to university in the PA and then promote them to responsible positions on their return; if a workers child is sick he organises health care- indeed one child had cancer and the hospital in the PA couldn’t treat her so Israel organised for her to go, with her mother, to an Israeli oncology unit where she was for a whole year and she is now 3 years after her cancer and healthy; he closes the factory on one fun day a year and takes the entire factory for an overnight in Eilat – not easy since there is a law going back to Mandate period that does not allow neighboring Arabs to go to Eilat but Israel managed to overcome that and his workers flew for the first time and had a ball in Eilat.

Why am I telling you all this? Because when I looked up the Barkan Industrial Park on Google I found the most damning of articles, be it Haaretz, the NYT or The Guardian, suggesting that all the Industrial Parks are built because of Israel’s colonial ambitions etc. Both their ilk and BDS would like nothing better than to close Israel Twito and his big heart down. Because those people – Jews, Christians, Moslems and atheists alike don’t understand the human aspect.  Let me give you the figures so you understand

Let us assume that 100,000 people from the PA work in factories in West Bank “settlements”. Each of those 100,000 has a family of at least 10 people dependent upon their salary including wives, children and parents, which makes 1,000,000 people who would go hungry and have no social rights if those factories were closed by the idiocy of Roger Waters and his ilk. The Israeli economy would be fine, it may be a small glitch, but the Palestinian workers who receive equal pay and great working conditions would suffer dreadfully. They do not get any social services from their own government! Moshe Levran took this theory to the European Parliament –