The Israel Consumer Council and the Ministry of Education have been cooperating on the issue of fairness education and conduct a special activity toward World Consumer Rights Day: a competition for video clips on the theme of fairness in business. All of the clips were produced, filmed and edited by 10th graders from across Israel. The final event was held on March 10 at Israeli Knesset, as part of a special joint session of the Knesset Education and Economics Committees, and under the auspices of the Minister of Economy.
The winning clip: Honesty is the trading name
About 30 secondary schools whose students study financial education took part in the competition, based on the study unit developed by the Council’s Education Unit, which circulated in the various schools. Over 50 video clips were submitted to the Council, from secondary schools all over Israel, representing all segments of the population. These clips were presented to a judging panel composed of representatives of the Ministry of Education, members of the Council, and media and advertising specialists. The panel selected the 12 best clips from among those submitted.
The ceremony took place at a gala event at the Knesset in Jerusalem, with the participation of members of the Knesset Economics and Education Committees. The prizes were awarded by: Naftali Bennett, Minister of Economy; MK Avishai Braverman, Chairman of the Knesset’s Economics Committee; MK Amram Mitzna, Chairman of the Knesset Education Committee; Dr. Miki Haran, Chairperson of the Consumer Council’s Board; Dana Friedman, representing the Ministry of Education; and Adv. Ehud Peleg, CEO of the Consumer Council.
Chairman of the Economics Committee, Prof. Avishai Braverman, opened the proceedings, and mentioned that the previous two weeks had been the Committee’s most intensive period for some time, during which it had completed major reforms for the benefit of consumers, among them the Food Law [Promotion of Competition in the Food Industry Law]. He added that laws are not sufficient by themselves and that help is needed from young people and their parents, who – as intelligent consumers – are willing to compare prices, try alternative products from smaller manufacturers, and who will not be tempted to buy only brand-name products. “Advertising is trying to brainwash you, but you have to influence your parents, in the spirit of the films that you have produced, so that they become more intelligent consumers,” said MK Braverman.
Chairman of the Education Committee, MK Amram Mitzna, added that it is no coincidence that this was a joint meeting, since consumerism is a matter of both economics and education. MK Braverman added that the initials of the Hebrew words for economics and education form the Hebrew word koach – strength. MK Mitzna called on the students to learn to “control the impact of mass advertising, so that they don’t take advantage of you or make you buy things that you don’t need.”
Naftali Bennett, Minister of Economy, also mentioned the work of the Economics Committee and its chairman, Prof. Braverman, in recent weeks, leading to an outstanding achievement for the Israeli consumer. He also thanked the chairman of the Education Committee, MK Amram Mitzna, and Adv. Ehud Peleg for their participation in the session, and said that young people have to work with the government to bring prices down. “The Government and the Knesset have to ensure fair and honest competition, and that’s what we are doing, but you have to be good consumers, and make an effort not to buy only brand names”, said Bennett. He pointed out that an examination carried out by staff from his department showed a 40% difference between a shopping basket that included brand names, and the same shopping basket with alternative products. “If we are good consumers, then this will force companies to play fair as well”, he said. He added that he had given instructions that morning to the Supervisor of Prices in his Ministry to begin the process for imposing price controls on baby formula (substitutes for mothers’ milk). “These are sold at intolerable prices – there is no reason for these products to cost the same as champagne”, he said.
Consumer Council CEO, Adv. Ehud Peleg, said, “Mahatma Ghandi identified unethical business as one of the seven social sins, as well as unmoral commerce. The Consumer Council states that business in Israel is tainted with this sin”. He pointed out that, every year, the Council receives 40 thousand complaints, 80% of which are found to be justified. “In the eyes of businessmen, the absence of fairness has become the norm, so much so they don’t feel they need to be ashamed or to apologize for what they are doing. This is why the Council has decided to act and to educate young people to fairness”, Peleg said. He added, “Unfairness is not good business. Unfair businesspersons of tomorrow are today's students in the education system. Through appropriate educational activity today, we have the opportunity to prevent them from becoming businessmen who cause damages to consumers.”