The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

Israeli food company: We won’t sell produce grown by Arabs

Posted by vmsalama on August 5, 2008

I found this story in Ha’aretz today to be really disturbing.  Already Palestinian farmers are at the mercy of road blocks and travel bans.  These people are suffering enough – not just from Israeli restrictions, but from the conflict within their embattled territories that is completely out of their hands.  This is really just the icing on the cake.  So sad. – VMS  

Israeli food company: We won’t sell produce grown by Arabs By Amiram Cohen, Haaretz Correspondent http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1008424.html

Israeli produce marketing company Otzar Ha’aretz (treasure of the earth) announced on Monday that it will not market produce grown by Arab farmers, and will from now on only sell only Jewish-grown products. 

The company, which has been marketing fruits and vegetables to the ultra-Orthodox community during the shmita (sabbatical) year, announced that it will continue to operate once the year is over in effort to “support Jewish agriculture in Israel.” 

According to Jewish law, every seventh year the earth must rest and no crops can be grown. Many ultra-Orthodox Jews use foreign-grown produce during this sabbatical year in order to avoid using crops grown by Jews. Another solution, offered by Otzar Haaretz, is the Otzar Beit Din, a solution in which the Rabbinical Court appoints the farmers as its emissaries to grow produce. The produce retains its Shmitah sanctity, but can be sold by the Rabbinical Court for a fair price. Other solutions include growing produce in hothouses on beds detached from the ground, storage of produce grown in the year prior to Shmitah, produce grown in the Aravah and more. These are the main sources from which Otzar Ha’aretz supplies kosher produce during the Shmitah year.

In a statement issued Monday, Otzar Ha’aretz announced that though the shmita year will soon come to an end, the company plans to continue marketing produce to the ultra-Orthodox community as well as to members of the general public “who want high quality produce that the consumer can identify where it was grown.” 

The Director of Otzar Ha’aretz Ika Ness explained the company’s decision, saying that “Jewish agriculture needs support and we, as Zionist people, view this as our mission.” 

Marketing Director Dore Lichtenstein said that “it is every person right to know who stands behind the product they are buying, who made it and who imported it and whether it was made in Israel.”


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