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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Abdel Halim Qandil, Eat your heart out!

The "great" leftist egyptian "intellectual"- and I am using the word intellectual here while holding my nose - Abdel Halim Qandil is at the forefront of the movement to reject any kind of normalization or agreements with Israel what so ever. He would actually want the peace agreement with Israel annulled and calls arabs who support peacefull relations with Israel to be "arab zionists". In his "brain", not a single egyptian would be for the QIZ trade agreement with Israel, which I proved to be wrong by highlighting demonstrations by actual egyptian workers who were demonstrating to have their factory join the QIZ and get over our irrational anti-semitism. Remember this actual quote from an egyptian textile worker- the same class Qandil claims to represent and champion? "People do not understand that if we do not have a QIZ here, me and my co-workers will be kicked out of the factory. We should stop being over sentimental about Israel and see what is good for us," said Mohammed Al Assal, a 43-year-old textile worker. Well, the QIZ agreement has been good for us after all. Really good! But a little over a year ago, Egypt did accept the deal and it has been impressed, not to say astounded, by the impact on its No. 1 manufacturing sector, the garment industry: thousands of jobs created, higher wages, and soaring exports to the United States. Here are some numbers for ya: Figures from the Israeli Export Institute show that trade between Egypt and Israel, dominated by goods for the garment sector, rose from $58 million in 2004 to $142 million in 2005.

Although the amounts are small — Egypt's global exports are worth about $12 billion a year, Israel's are about $30 billion — it's still a whopping 144 percent increase in only one year.

Wages in Egypt's textile and garment industry have risen 25 percent since December 2004, when Egypt, Israel and the United States signed the Qualified Industrial Zone agreement, according to Mohammed Kassim, the vice chairman of the Chamber of Textile Industries, and Magdy Tolba, the head of the Ready-made Garment Exporters Association.

Egyptian clothing exports to the United States in September 2005 were 85 percent higher than those in September 2004, Kassim said.

The QIZ agreement enabled Egyptian exports to enter the U.S. market tariff-free, as long as 11.7 percent of their production material — textiles, dyes and packaging — came from Israel, and they were made in specific industrial zones.

The accord has proved so popular that Egyptian workers and companies successfully pushed their government to expand the QIZ zones so that they now cover the whole of greater Cairo, the Suez Canal cities of Ismailiya and Suez, and four Nile Delta provinces.


Tolba estimates at least 15,000 jobs have been created since the QIZ and 30,000 jobs will be created this year.

Wow, all of that because of just one year of the QIZ. Imagine if he had accepted it back in the 90's, when it was offerd to us and Jordan. We, the herald of arabism, refused because of the "palestinian cause". The Jordanians, who are 70% palestinains, accepted it 8 years ago, and their economy shows it. The reason? The Jordanians are after their interests, and not hollow slogans, like we egyptians are. However, there are other differences. Egypt sees Israel as a regional rival and has been loath to strengthen relations while the Palestinian conflict continues. Jordan seeks to influence Israel by engagement and, for geographic and demographic reasons, its economy will always be closer to Israel's.

The upshot is that 12 years of peace between Jordan and Israel have produced 20 Israeli factories in the kingdom while 27 years of Egyptian-Israeli peace have seen the construction of only two sizable Israeli factories in Egypt.

And I bet those factories' owners identity has to remain hidden too. Whatever. I hope those facts would help people-especially those on the egyptian left- to realize the potential and the benefits of such a trade relationship with Israel. I hope it makes them realize that at the end of the day, workers would rather make money and feed their families then stand for hollow ideals and slogans. I hope it also makes them relaize that if it wasn't for capitalism and globalization, so many of the people they claim to champion would have no jobs. I think if they are smart , they should realize that their battle shouldn't be against capitalists and businesses, but against unfair labour laws and government corruption that does stop more busineses and investment from existing in Egypt and that allows the kind of crony capitalism (cough Ahmed Ezz cough) that gives capitalism a bad name to exist. I hope. I doubt it, but I hope anyway!


At 1/24/2006 02:56:00 PM, Blogger forsoothsayer said...

i have heard from a friend of mine in the textile industry that the reality of what goes on is that good are produced in egypt and pakcaged, and then go to israel for nominal "processing" - usually some sort of look over - and are then shipped to th u.s. while israel takes a cut for not having done anything. moreover, if one disagrees with israel's polciies, as anyone with any respect for human rights should, it stands to reason that they wouldn't want to support their economic growth, even if ours grows too. as it is now, those who do not participae in qiz cannot benefit from the low tariff. how is that capitalism? capitalism does not include forcing people to contract with each other for political reasons.
capitalism means

At 1/24/2006 03:46:00 PM, Blogger Sonic said...

Keep cashing those cheques!

At 1/24/2006 03:54:00 PM, Blogger programmer craig said...

forsoothsayer, capitalism = buy the shit from china for half the price. You're right, it's not "capitalism" - it's political incentive.

Either take the deal that was offerred, or walk away from it. Don't bitch about the deal not being good enough.

I was gonna respond politely but, but you are a rude and abusive person, so to hell with that. We should trade you for Sandmonkey. What's your job anyway, besides being a student?

Bitchy waitress?

At 1/24/2006 04:05:00 PM, Anonymous Vox P. said...

"The reason? The Jordanians are after their interests, and not hollow slogans, like we egyptians are"

Nope. They have a better leadership that's all. Anyway, Jordan's economy has been growing at a steady rate for years now. They are better than Syria now. This would have been unbelievable 30 years ago.

Free trade is the solution. I have a final solution for the leftists to. People should vote for the real solutions, not for some hand chopper crazy dude.

But people in the Arab world don't know shit. That is the core of the problem.

I am happy for the copts anyway; now if something bad happen to them, the US can retaliate by suspending the trade agreement. The MB hate the copts by they must feed their voters. Egypt is not Iran and doesn't have enough oil to fuck with the outside world. The MB fuckers will have to take that into account.

At 1/24/2006 04:32:00 PM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

Ok Sherine, let me address your points, at least the ones posted b4 u got cut off, ok?

The first point is regarding the israeli role in the process: First of all, just because that's how it works for your friend, doesn't mean it's the way it is for everybody. But sure, I will bite: the product gets made in egypt and the israelis get a cut without doing anything. Are we still losing out? No, not really. Because the goal is free-trade with the US and the QIZ is a step in that direction. So yeah, if it means that the israelis get a cut for doing nothing, sure, why not? We are still winning. We are still selling products, growing, making money, creating jobs and expanding. We are benefiting from this greatly. Not to mention, who needs this more? Us or the US? We do. Our economy needs it. If they just want the israelis to get a cut, then fine, let them have one. We are still coming out of this with profit.

Now, you said: "moreover, if one disagrees with israel's polciies, as anyone with any respect for human rights should, it stands to reason that they wouldn't want to support their economic growth, even if ours grows too.

According to that statement, one should not help the economic growth of countries whose policies do not respect human rights, right? Wouldn't that, like, include our countries as well? Does that mean that the western countries shouldn't trade with us because you wouldn;t want to support the economic growth of countries that don;t respect human rights? Or is that a standard we should hold ourselves too? Does that mean that Egypt shouldn';t trade with Saudi or Iran as well, because, you know, when it comes to respect for human rights, those countries rank way way below. Or does this standard only apply to Israel? When we do it it's ok, but when they do it it's bad? Is that what you are saying?

Not to mention, why don;t we follow the jordanian model? Do I need to list to you the # of jordanians with palestinian decent that engage in trade with Israel? Aren't those the people who should be most opposed to such an agreement? Howcome they are not? And if they are not, howcome we should oppose it for their sake? Wallah a7nah bas fal7een fel ghabah we mazaher el kadabah?
Listen, the Jordanians realized that they can influence Israel better by engaging it economically then if they boycotted it. Why can't we understand that concept? That trade and strong economic ties with them would allow us to have economic leverage with them? That it would give us influence over them, more influence then this stupid boycott has accomplished over all of those years? We have the bigger market sherine, they are doomed to need us more then we need them thanks to the laws of supply and demand. Let's use that to our advantage.

Finally, you say: "as it is now, those who do not participae in qiz cannot benefit from the low tariff. how is that capitalism? capitalism does not include forcing people to contract with each other for political reasons."

You are right, capitalism doesn't force people to contract with each other for political reasons. Capitalism doesn't force people to contract with each other for any reason, well, except that of wanting to make a profit. Capitalism first and foremost is about mutual benefit, and it is the most honest system because it doesn;t force you to do anything you don't want to do, or participate in an agreement you don't wish to participate in. The people whose factories are in the QIZ do not have to participate in the program, they chose to, because they want to make money. They can chose not to based on principle and export to any other place in the world. They could do that, right? Then why don't they? Well, because they want to make money and exporting to the US without the tarriff will make them an obscene amount of money. They can still chose to export to the US and pay the tarriff as well, but they chose not to, because they want to make more money. The US made it a condition in its contract to demand that the israelis get a cut. We could've chosen not to, but we agreed to their condition. You know why? Because we want to make money. And we did it with our own free will. No one put a gun to our head to do it. We did it because it's in our best interest to do so. It benefits us. Sure, it comes with the "horrible price" of trading with Israel, but then again, there is no such thing as a free lunch. That's the price we have to pay to benefit from the low tarriff and considering the alternative, it's not a bad price at all. For all intents and pruposes we got ourselves a hell of a deal. A bargain so to speak.

Now that aside,I admire your idealistic approach to life and the world. However, I would like you to conduct an experiment: ask your friend, who is in the textile industry, if he would rather not to participate in the QIZ because it's supporting Israel with 84 million dollars growth in trade. Tell him that it's his moral obligation not to partake in his job, because even though it benefits us greatly, it also benefits Israel and he doesn't want that on his conscience. And then see what he tells you.

Better yet, go to his factory and find a worker who works there and tell him that he should quit his job, the job that this agreement created, because he shouldn't feed his kids or pay for their bills if it means benefitting Israel and then see what he will tell you. Repeat this experiment if the results don't please you. I highly doubt they would.

It's nice to be idealistic and to stand on principle, and it's totally your right. It's your right not to buy products that are made in any way in Israel. It's your right not to work in an Israeli company. It's your right to try to talk people out of buying such products themselves. It's , however, not your right to demand that everyone succumbs to your views, especially if it means that they won't end up getting jobs, or getting paid to support their families. It's especially unfair for you to do so when you yourself never knew the hunger and poverty that such people live in, and yet demand that they continue living in it because you think that by working there they are supporting Israel's economy and that's bad because of it's history of human rights abuses towards the palestinians. You know?

At 1/24/2006 05:32:00 PM, Blogger pelyas said...

I'm so glad to see Egyptian-Israeli relations are paying off big time. I hope Egyptians soon start to realize this as well, and embrace full partnership with Israel. The two nations have the potential for an extremely productive economic relationship. I wrote extensively about this on my blog, and I'd really like you to read it and tell me your opinions.

At 1/24/2006 07:24:00 PM, Blogger Sonic said...

Beast, probably best if you adressed those comments to an Egyptian, and there do not seem to be any around here.

At 1/24/2006 08:04:00 PM, Blogger programmer craig said...

No Egyptians around here? What's that supposed to mean, Sonic?

At 1/24/2006 08:52:00 PM, Blogger Kahramana said...

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
- Nelson Mandela

At 1/25/2006 12:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel is guilty of human rights abuses!? Hello? What about Saudi,Syria,Yemen,et al? And though it isn't widely publicized,Christians in Egypt are harassed and persecuted by the government and
good old peace-loving Muslims.

It almost seems that Israel's neighbors are secretly jealous of her prosperity and democracy,though that doesn't fully explain the level of irrational antisemitism.

At 1/25/2006 06:17:00 AM, Anonymous Norm said...

Little by little Arabs are starting to understand by cooperation we can all provide a better life for ourselves and our loved ones...Peace to All and remember to take care of your loved ones.

At 1/25/2006 06:21:00 AM, Anonymous Jokerman said...

Abdel Halim qandil is an old fossil living in the ancient times of Ignorance. He is submerged in nasserism yet nasserism proved how ineffeicient, inept & short sighted ludicrous ideology.
The likes of Qandil will not be satisfied with anyone ruling egypt, he wants Nasser to rise from the dead & come back to rule again with his outdated & failed policies. Anyone who wants to annull the peace accord with Israel must state reasons with irrefutable proof & not just wild imaginative theories.
To link the palestinian problem with egyptian future interests is just another proof that these egyptians are in fact rabid hate mongers who hate israelis more than their country.
A writer wrote in an egyptian paper that germany didnt commit the kind of atrocities that the Israeli are committing, yeah right..sure if you are an imbecile wallowing in your own feces thinking its candy. Germany started a war of expansion that lasted 6 years and killed over 50 million humans, they killed indescriminately and yes they killed millions of jews for being semitic, i wonder how did the nazis regard arabs, if they treated european born and educated like that for being semites, surely arabs would fall in a lower category yet to this day, many arab so called intellectuals deny the holocaust to deny zionists the claim to israel, they deny logic and facts as their hatred and contempt has taken over their minds thus they are unable to solve the real problems facing the country. Yes i will generalise again and say that egyptian intellectuals are infact a bunch of impostors.
Why do they to this day insist on israel as an enemy and want to fight it¨, because if they are convinced that fighting israel and going to battle is the best thing, then they should start regarding the US, Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Italy, Canada and China as their enemy as well.

At 1/25/2006 07:15:00 AM, Anonymous Andrew Brehm said...

"i wonder how did the nazis regard arabs"

Useful helpers. But evil will attack itself when nothing else is left.

As for Israel's "human rights abuses", I wonder what country he was comparing Israel to? On an absolute scale every country violations human rights. (But for some reason only Israel is ever mentioned in this regard.) But on a relative scale, I wonder whether he can make a case that Israel is actually worse than other countries.

At 1/26/2006 08:59:00 PM, Blogger forsoothsayer said...

good points, sandmonkey.
programmer craig, no, i don't have a job. u have to understand that little egyptian princesses don't have to work while they're in school.
but 3 months hence, i will be a lawyer. i gotta say too...don't give a shit what you think of me.


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