Israeli Vegetables at Spinneys: Tip of the Iceberg

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in Lebanon, we like to outdo the West when it comes to freedom of opinion and expression. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

By: Rami Zurayk

Published Sunday, January 13, 2013

This month, the Palestinian Farmers Union issued an urgent appeal for the boycott of Israeli agricultural goods and companies. In Lebanon, we didn’t feel that they meant us, until a week ago when a Lebanese newspaper revealed that Israeli produce had been found at the Spinneys grocery store in Saida.

According to the paper, which published pictures of the offending items, the produce included multi-colored sweet peppers in a plastic bag. The label on the bag said: “Country of Origin: Spain for the green peppers and Israel for the yellow ones.”

It was the Lebanese army who removed the produce because of Lebanon’s boycott of Israel. Spinneys decried the fact that Israeli products had been found in its shops – for the second time – assuring everyone of their respect for the boycott law. Perhaps they respect it as much as they respect Lebanon’s labor laws.

If we leave aside the fact that the boycott law was broken, there are two important issues here. The first is that regardless of the origin of the vegetables, why are we importing vegetables to the country of vegetables? Does the demand for sweet peppers exceed the supply these days? Is it possible that producing these vegetables in Spain and occupied Palestine, shipping them to Holland to be packaged, and then shipping them to Lebanon is cheaper than producing sweet peppers locally? If this is true, then the agriculture and trade ministries should explain this mystery to us.

The second issue is related to the reaction to the news on the comments page of the Internet edition of the newspaper. Scores of racist and derogatory comments were hurled at Arabs while Israel was praised. Of course, in Lebanon, we like to outdo the West when it comes to freedom of opinion and expression. This perhaps turns certain newspapers into mouthpieces for our enemy’s propaganda.

Rami Zurayk is Al-Akhbar's environment columnist and author of the blog Land and People.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


How difficult can it be for the Arab public to boycott Zionist goods? Whatever the governments impose on the people, don't buy. No pain there. It's the least they can do to suppport Palestinians. My elementary kid even understands to boycott them as the minimum contribution.

I don’t know why all these stores are full of vegetables with chemicals sprayed on them. I am really fed of of this stuff. It is actually difficult to cultivate at home. Also It is really difficult to find pure vegetables in my locality.

The interest of the farmers have to be protected and they must be ensured that they get good price for their produce which will enable them to produce higher yields and better quality produce.This can be achieved if the politicians rise above their parochial interest and do what they are elected for by the citizen. this inevitable lead to security, justice and growth

Easy to throw the whole "Zionist conspirator" and "Israeli Spy" rhetoric eh?

Law should be upheld and enforced, but mistakes happen. But obviously as tragic as the Palestinian plight is, we have issues on the local level that transcend regional politics, such as the well being of the citizen, and the economy.

I agree about supporting local farmers though.

Zionists subsidize their plastic-looking food products, directed at boycott markets.

Thank you for the link to the article and comments.
The comments ARE sarcastic and derogatory because Lebanon did "outdo" the west with Its over reaction.
Boycotts are enlighten and honorable.
But so many of the useless fools who scream "Boycott Israel",do It while typing on laptops with Israeli R&D and mahufactured "Intel" processor Inside their laptops and tablets.
I posted before on this web site (Israeli cosmetics sold In Lebanon),that commerce between Israel and Arab/Muslim countries and vise versa, are a fact of life.
I buy Lebanese bananas,pour my guests Jordanian Arak (Arak Zahlawi Is over priced)and sold Israeli hothouses ,greenhouses and irrigation systems.I am pleased It helped farmers through out the M.E. grow higher yields,better quality and get more for their produce.
Once the politicians on all sides will do what they were elected to do by Its citizens, justice,security and prosperity ,will benefit us all.

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