Critics: Most Israeli Flags Made in…China


israel-flagFigures published yesterday by the Manufacturers’ Assocation of Israel indicate an embarrassing trend whereby most Israelis wave flags on Independence Day that were made abroad. And the trend seems to be growing.

According to the figures, only some 5% of local authorities and government bodies ordered flags manufactured in Israel this year, as the rest ordered flags made abroad, mainly in China. The total sum of flag orders this year, according to Association figures, is about NIS 2.5 million (about $680,000).

Ramzi Gabai, managing director of the Ofis Textile factory and chairman of the Textile and Fashion Industries Association within the Manufacturers’ Association, said that the figures are based on an examination of Israeli flag manufacturers.

“If in the past people were certain to purchase a blue and white flag, in all its meanings, today, the local authorities and government ministries are only interested in the price,” said Gabai. He said that some Israeli flag manufacturers have been forced to operate part time in order to stave off closure.

The Manufacturers’ Association’s figures also indicated that private customers purchased some half a million flags ahead of Independence Day, only 200,000 of which were made in Israel, a more than 40% decrease versus last year. The monetary value of private purchases comes in at some NIS 4.8 million (about $1.3 million), according to the Association.

Purchase of extra large flags for covering buildings and large flags (one meter by four meters) dropped by 50% versus Independence Day in 2009.

The Manufacturers’ Association claims that the leading manufacturers in the field on which the figures were based are Medium Factories and Kelman Berman. However, another large flag manufacturer, FGP Factories Chairman Avi Marom, claims that the figures presented are a statistically misleading because they did not take into account the largest flag manufacturer in Israel because it is not a member of the Association – himself.

“We manufacture 70% of the flags in Israel,” said Marom to Ynet. “The Association contacts us every year before Independence Day to ask for figures. But for some reason, this year they didn’t contact us at all. So it’s no surprise that their figures came out all wrong.”

Marom claimed that not only have flag sales to government bodies in Israel not declined, they have actually sharply increased. He indicated that 20% of the local authorities – including Tel Aviv and Yerushalayim – purchased flags made in Israel, versus just 10% last year.

“The situation is still bad, but the trend is changing. Someone in the government deserves a medal for this. Tel Aviv has ordered some of its flags from abroad for years, but this year insisted on buying only blue and white. There are bodies, such as the Jewish National Fund, that even wrote explicitly in their tender that they would come and check if the flag was indeed made in Israel,” Marom said.

“According to the figures I have, sales totaled at least NIS 3.5 million (about $950,000) this year, and not NIS 2.5 million, like the Association claims, versus NIS 3 million (about $810,000) last year. The fact is we are working day and night in preparation for the holiday, so what kind of decrease in orders are they talking about?” Marom quipped.

The Manufacturers’ Association reported in response: “The Association takes tireless action to raise awareness about preferring blue and white purchases. We are sorrowed that there are people who are not partners in this effort.”

Tel Aviv Municipality reported in response that the city prefers Israeli-made flags every year, and, contrary to Marom’s claims, there is no change in the municipality’s policy this year from past years.

{Ynet/Yair Israel}