Sidon is a coastal city of Lebanon. Life goes on, as it does everywhere. One day, early this month, a store selling food items caused a furore. Here is the report:
While shopping at Spinneys a man, who preferred to remain anonymous, discovered a bag of three kinds of peppers made in Israel. He immediately contacted local authorities who in turn contacted the Lebanese Army.Members of military intelligence and police arrived to Spinneys to discover 13 similar bags that have the word “Israel” printed on the sale tag. Police also noticed that the international bar code for the items was scratched with a blue pen and a new code was handwritten on the bag. The case was then referred to the military judiciary for investigation into how the products made it through the customs department at the port or the airport.Spinneys had a similar incident almost ten years ago when shoppers discovered mugs made in Israel being sold at the retailer.
What if the word 'Israel' was not written on it? Did the peppers taste any different? I understand the delicate political situation, but when people get killed in those regions a bag of peppers causing police intervention seems farcical.
But then, could those peppers hide something lethal? In that case, they would be better targeted. Is it possible they were poisoned? Could it be they weren't Israeli at all and there was a fake barcode over which someone had scrawled to create a story?
I am thinking about the sold ones. Did the customers know? Having read this report, would they start looking at the packets carefully? If they are strongly political, would they boycott the store, stop eating peppers?
I recall once being at a Spinney's outlet in Dubai that had a bookstore. I was browsing and struck up a conversation with the sales assistant. A few minutes later, a tall, lean woman came in and asked for a map. A world map. I don't know what she was looking for, her eyes narrowing till she found the place. "Israel. Where's Israel?" she asked.
It was missing. The sales assistant did not know. Turning to me, she let out a litany. "How can a map leave out a country?"
I did not need to ask about her andecedents. It did surprise me. It raises questions about how we wipe out things, cultures, people and imagine they will all disappear. It only serves to remind us of their existence.
With Bibi re-elected as Israeli Prime Minister in the recent elections, one newspaper asked, "Netanyahu's back - can Obama learn to work with him this time around?"
It's like asking if wood can work with the carpenter.