The Israeli army’s boots are stitched together by Palestinian workers in factories in Hebron and East Jerusalem, a little-known example of economic coexistence driven by necessity more than goodwill.
“The Jews who knew how to do that work are gone,” said Shimon Horovitz, the boot product manager at Brill Shoe Industries Ltd, which makes some 85,000 pairs of boots for the army every year. “There are no craftsmen left.”
In fact, some 40 percent of all shoes on the Israeli market come from the southern West Bank city of Hebron. “It is the city of shoes,” Horovitz said of Hebron. “Everyone knows that.”
At the Brill factory in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion, where the army boots are made, Israeli workers handle all other stages of production.
Asked about the role of Palestinians in the assembly line, a security official said, “We’re an equal opportunity employer. We look at quality, durability and budget.”
“If the boots fit, feel good and allow you to defend the county, then that’s all that matters,” he said.