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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Great news: Israel funding Iran's nuke program

The headline is an exaggeration, albeit only a slight one. While we insist that the rest of the World boycott Iran, Israelis continue to buy Iranian goods. I knew that Israelis were addicted to Iranian pistachio nuts, but apparently we are also addicted to Iranian marble.
The high-ceilinged lobby and stately exterior of the new headquarters of Bank Leumi, a partially state-owned Israeli lender, are swathed in thousands of square feet of gray-beige Gohara stone, a coveted variety of marble found only in Iran's Lorestan province, southwest of Tehran.

Iranian marble also drapes the facade of the sprawling Avenue Conference Center building, part of a new industrial park near Ben Gurion Airport. Same goes for the iconic Garden Tower, built in 2003 by one of Israel's top architects, Ilan Pivko, along Israel's main north-south artery in Tel Aviv.

The stealth invasion has some Israelis fuming about the risks of trading with the enemy.

"When you build with Iranian stone, you are funding the military machine, the nuclear machine," says Oded Tira, a retired army brigadier general and outspoken proponent of military action to thwart Iran's suspected nuclear arms development program. "It's like committing suicide."


"It has a coffee color that you can't find anywhere else," effuses Avi Yerushalmi, owner of Israeli Marble, one of the country's largest stone wholesalers. "Unlike other beige-colored marbles that tend to be very soft, Gohara is strong," he adds.

To get around Israel's ban on the stone, middlemen in Turkey repackage it with false certificates of origin, according to Israeli and Turkish stone dealers.

In 2009, Israel imported $22.6 million worth of marble and limestone from Turkey, or nearly two-thirds of its total marble imports, according to the Israeli Federation of Chambers of Commerce.

There is no way to know how much of that is Iranian, since marble imports aren't broken down by type. Marble sellers in Israel, however, say it is a substantial chunk.

"I don't like to sell it—they're our enemies—but everyone wants it," says Yali Etzion, general manager of Ariel Marble, a marble store north of Tel Aviv.

He says homeowners use it to accentuate everything from flooring in foyers and bathrooms to kitchen counters.
I can tell you that there's no Iranian marble in my house. But the alternatives aren't great.
Most of the marble mined domestically in Israel comes from Palestinian quarries in the West Bank, which puts Israelis between a rock and a hard place.

While close at hand, buying Palestinian marble is equally unpalatable for many in Israel in light of decades of conflict over land claimed by both sides.
Read the whole thing. It's not a lot of money involved, but the principle is disgraceful. If you read between the lines, you'll see that it's the 'elites' that are buying the Iranian marble. Like Bank Leumi. If they keep buying Iranian products, they make the whole effort to boycott Iran look bad.

If our kitchen counters (which are the cheapest of the cheap) came from the 'Palestinians' no one told us that when we were buying them. But then, that's typical here, and in the 1990's when we were building, buying from the 'Palestinians' was less of an issue.

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At 6:18 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - its not like they can't buy Italian marble, right? I mean they could afford it!



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