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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Egypt bans selling "lulavim" to Israel

From Al Masry al Youm:

Egypt’s Agriculture Ministry has announced a ban on the export of palm leaves to Israel starting this year and for the coming two years, a decision that some news reports have linked with recent violence along the Egyptian border with Israel in the past week.

The decision to ban the sale of Egyptian palm leaves to Israel has been hailed as an act of defiance on the part of the minister of agriculture, Salah Youssef. However, the minster's decision is not aimed entirely at Israel, but includes a ban on harvesting and exporting palm leaves and hearts nationwide, and reflects growing concern at the poor state of Egypt's population of palm trees, which is under pressure from over-harvesting and disease.

The need to protect the trees has been highlighted before but never enacted, most recently on 26 July this year, when the governor of North Sinai called for a ban on exports to Israel.

In 2010, Egypt exported 600,000 palm leaves to Israel, and around 300,000 palm leaves to Europe.

Israelis use the palm leaves in the ritual celebration of a Jewish holiday known as the Feast of Tabernacles.
It's interesting that the minister is using the excuse of "saving the palm trees" when in fact it is obvious that his decision is meant specifically against Israel and Jews worldwide. But when the Northern Sinai governor floated the plan, he didn't mention anything about tree disease.

Egyptian palm trees are mostly grown in the Sinai in the area around El Arish.

The palm harvesters aren't happy. A delegation of palm farmers visited Youssef, demanding compensation for the money they will lose.

Christians use palm leaves on Palm Sunday, but they can substitute other branches when palms aren't available. Jews are obligated to use a palm frond, called a lulav, on the holiday of Sukkot, coming up in October this year.

In other words, this decision is aimed specifically against religious Jews. Not that we can expect any human rights organization to denounce this state-sanctioned anti-semitism.

Egypt's economy must be doing great for them to decide that they can lose yet another source of revenue.