Pistachio Sedition Raging in Israel

A recent article in YNet revealed this ironic nugget: the US Ambassador to Israel has sent a letter to Israeli Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On, excoriating Israel for illegally consuming Iranian pistachios nuts:

The US ambassador’s letter reveals another amazing fact: Israel is the largest per capita consumer of the pistachio. “I am writing to draw your attention to the troubling issue of illegal importation of pistachio of Iranian origin to Israel,” writes Jones.

“Israel is the world’s largest per capita consumer of pistachio nuts and therefore an important market – estimated at $20 million – for pistachio producers…Evidence strongly suggests that most, if not all, of the pistachios entering Israel are actually of Iranian origin.”

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Israeli snacking habits will attest that Israel will be hard pressed to give up their pistachio addiction, no matter where the nuts actually come from. For its part, Israel claims it gets most of its pistachios from Turkey (yeah, right!)

The most priceless part of the article comes at the end, when journalist Nahum Barnea unabashedly editorializes on the scandal of the situation:

Every pistachio nut brings Iran another step closer to achieving nuclear capability…

3 Replies to “Pistachio Sedition Raging in Israel”

  1. Brant,
    In a nutshell this posting exemplifies what I love about your blog. The highs and lows, the sublime and the ridiculous; nothing is too trivial or too sacred for you to weigh in on. The kernal of truth in this issue seems to embody it all. Yashar koach!

    Rebecca

  2. Israelis are nuts for Iranian pistachios? Are they also coo coo for cocoapuffs?

    Seriously, I remember the days of Iranian pistachios here in USA. They were the best and I miss them mightily. Turkish are okay, Californian aren’t even pistachios – they are some tasteless, pale, abomination.

    and don’t israelis get much of their oil from iran? sounds like a love-hate relationship.

  3. Brant —

    This story should surprise nobody in Israel. One of my favorite Israel memories comes from listening to Israel Army Radio (“Galei Tzahal”), which is much like college radio stations in the US and appealed to my then twenty-something self. An excellent program, for both entertainment and vocabulary value, was a quirky weekly economics primer, “Sha’ah Kalah al Kalkalah.” They periodically discussed the price of nuts in various locations around Israel as an example for economic analysis, and concluded that the very low price of pistachios (“fistuk halabi”) relative to other nuts in certain years didn’t make sense in the market and had to be explained by what economists call an externality. Turns out the freighters transporting weapons as part of Iran-Contra needed paying cargo for other legs of their global circuit, and often carried Iranian pistachios to certain other regional ports. A few discounts to avoid running empty ships, a few officials looking the other way, and suddenly pistachios were available at bargain prices in the Tel Aviv bus station. And this was decades ago. Our ambassador exposed himself as a newbie, while Bar-On and Barnea are posturing by feigning shock.

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