By Louay Khraish
On the first day of 2013, Lebanon made a major discovery, one that is worthy of the attention of not only the media, but also the military and internal security apparatus of the great and mighty, Republic of Lebanon.
What was the discovery? Well, on January 1, an Israeli pepper was discovered at Spinneys in Sidon.
It was reported that the Lebanese internal security and the military were summoned to the supermarket after the discovery of this vegetal, national-security threat. The military judiciary was also asked to investigate how the Israeli pepper reached Lebanon despite the boycott. Fearing backlash, Spinneys quickly released an apologetic statement reiterating its commitment to the boycott of Israeli products.
While those in charge in the Republic of Lebanon are probably patting each other’s backs or perhaps their behinds for their commendable response to the Israeli pepper, one has to ask, why is a country like Lebanon incapable of planting its own peppers? While our Minister of Agriculture claims that he has an achievable plan to plant 40 million trees in the next 20 years, the agriculture industry that he is in charge of cannot even produce one pepper good enough to be sold at Spinneys. Israel on the other hand ranks 20th in the list of pepper-producing countries even though Lebanon has more water resources and its Bekaa Valley, was known as “the breadbasket of the Roman Empire,” but then again, that was 2,000 years ago before the advancement in agricultural technology.
The other issue about this story that is laughable is the antiquated boycott of Israeli products, especially in the digital age we live in today. If our leaders truly want to boycott Israeli products they should start with throwing out their computers and smartphones. Next time these stooges we call ministers or parliamentarians are sending an email using their smartphones, let them remember that they are most probably using Israeli software, such as Emoze, to do so.
While Israel focuses on technology, our leaders congratulate themselves on catching a pepper that sneaked through their Customs control. Israel’s exports amount to 64 billion dollars per year, yet Lebanon’s a mere 5 billion. While Israeli is considered a major software and agricultural exporting nation, and ranks fourth in scientific activity, Lebanon, well . . . Let’s aim first at growing good-quality peppers.