Egypt bans export of ceremonial palm fronds for Jewish holiday
Jews buy fronds of the date palm, called lulavs, for the holiday of Sukkot.
September 20th, 2011
02:13 PM ET

Egypt bans export of ceremonial palm fronds for Jewish holiday

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Egypt has forbidden the picking and exporting of palm fronds used in the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot, leaving Israel scrambling to make up for the shortage.

But one Egyptian customs official said the ban so far has not been implemented.

The fronds of the date palm, called lulavs, are waved during Sukkot, which celebrates the ancient wanderings of the Jewish people after their exile from Egypt. The seven-day holiday begins on the evening of October 12.

"The Agriculture Ministry is working for the complete supply of lulavs for anyone who wants one after it became apparent that picking and exporting them from Sinai is completely forbidden this year," the ministry said.

"As a result of the new circumstances, the Minister of Agriculture, Orit Noked, encourages Israeli palm tree growers to significantly increase the number of lulavs to be given for the Sukkot holiday. At the same time, we will advance alternatives to importing palm trees so that everyone can observe the obligations of Sukkot."

The minister also said the agency would help supply Israelis "with lulavs at a fair price by encouraging domestic date farmers to greatly boost their supply."

The incident comes amid frosty relations between Israel and the new leadership in Egypt.

Egypt has been incensed by the killings of Egyptian police, who died when Israeli commandos went after militants who had launched attacks against Israeli citizens near the Egyptian-Israeli border last month. Also, Israel was upset after Egyptian citizens angry about their country's relations with Israel stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

Egypt banned the export of palm fronds on August 10 "in order to preserve the fortunes of the palm groves" according to Wahman Ahmed, a spokesman for the Egyptian ministry of agriculture.

Ashraf Al Azzazy, the manager of Al Awja customs, told CNN the palm fronds are mainly exported to Israel through the Al Awja commercial border crossing in the town of El Arish in northern Sinai.

"About 600,000 fronds go through our borders each year but so far the ban has not been implemented, " Al Azzazy said. "This season normally three to five tons are exported through the crossing on trucks that go directly to Israel. They need it for their Jewish religious rituals."

Al Azzazy, noting that Israelis also get palm fronds from Jordan through the West Bank, said the Egyptian product is much better and more expensive. Egyptian dealers in Sinai now wrap their products in nylon sheets and pack them in cartons for better quality.

Judge Zakaria Abdel Aziz, former head of the Egyptian Judicial Courts of Appeal, said there has been talk among top Egyptian officials about implementing the ban after the deaths of the Egyptian security personnel, but there has been no court order.

Haaretz, the Israeli daily newspaper, said the ban involves Israel and the Jewish diaspora. It said that Israel previously has imported 700,000 palm fronds yearly.

"In addition, about 700,000 of the 2 million lulavs purchased in Jewish communities in the Diaspora, primarily in North America and Europe, normally come from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. "

The Israeli Agriculture Ministry "will issue special licenses to allow the import of lulavs from Spain, Jordan and the Gaza Strip, so that no major shortage is experienced in the run-up to the holiday. The ministry will require that palm fronds coming into the country be inspected to prevent the spread of plant disease," the newspaper said.

–CNN's Joe Sterling, Izzy Lemberg and Mohamed Fadel Fahmy contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Egypt • Holidays • Israel • Judaism

soundoff (318 Responses)
  1. mfahmy

    if Egypt fails to in its security, that's an internal problem. if Israel can't manage its borders from its side, that's an Israel issue... and if Israel fixes its problems with the Palestinians,, i think all the region issues with terrorism will get solved to a great degree...

    September 22, 2011 at 4:46 am |
    • steveinmo

      For Israel to, as you say, fix it's problems with the Philistines – sorry I meant Palestinians – is simple. Just tell the Palestinians to drop their charter which vows the destruction of Israel and that they recognize Israel's right to exist. Otherwise they get nothing, and bring this on themselves. How about every other arab country, if they care so much about the poor Philistines, then let them open their borders and take them in, which is where those people should be anyway.

      Simple, problem solved.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:43 am |
  2. EM

    Egypt is stupid. Actually all these so-called "Arab Spring" countries are stupid. Darlings of the Western media, they're just a bunch of ant-Semites in disguise. I know why you call it the "Arab Spring". You liken it to the "Prague Spring". But that was real democracy in action, a real effort by good caucasian people to liberate Czechoslovakia. These brown, wild, sharia-law loving animals are an insult to the good Europeans of the Prague Spring. Totally disgusting.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  3. Joshua

    What the article omitted is that the Egyptians failed to police their side of the border to prevent Palestinian and Al Queda terrorists from attacking Israel from Sinai and killing innocent Israeli civilians.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  4. Ben Hur

    Egypt can't feed its own population.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  5. An American

    If Egypt is also stopping shipments to Diaspora Jews it can be inferred that this policy has nothing to do with Israel. If Egypt only had a problem with Israel they would have stopped the shipments only to Israel. Egypt has a problem with Jews.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  6. James

    lol i laught at Egypt's new leadership, Ban a multi-Million Dollar import Business to Israel. The only ppl getting poorer are the Egyptians, hahaha!! So much for your "progressive" revolution, back to the stone ages Egyptians!!

    September 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  7. William

    Hmm, ban the exports to Israel.
    Boy that works.
    Must be hundreds of egyptian farmers really happy with the new government and the additional poverty heaped on them.
    Yah sure point the finger at Israe for defendng its bordersl. Meanwhile we will see how America defends itself when the nut cases from Mexico start cross border attacks to liberate Texas for Mexico.
    So much for the Arab spring.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  8. BibleBeliever

    Still being censored....my post was never POSTED!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  9. BibleBeliever

    Okay, no posting again....is it because I used a Hebrew Word...Yahushua??? I mean come on now!!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  10. BibleBeliever

    I'm being censored....shameful!! My comment NOT posted....how dare you????

    September 21, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Indahdwi

      fyi-It is my beilef that one major perhaps THE major goal of zionism is to achieve financial dominance over as many nation states as can be gobbled up. I call the zionist form of capitalism predatory capitalism. It is different from the form of capitalism that most of the people of United States think they are talking about when they say capitalism. In his biography of the Rothschilds, Niall Ferguson place this quotation at the very beginning of the first volume: A foreigner would be apt to think that [the Rothschilds] were bankers if anyone was. But this only illustrates the essential difference between our English notions of banking and the continental. . . .Messrs Rothschild are immense capitalists, having, doubtless, much borrowed money in their hands. But they do not take 100 pounds payable on demand, and pay it back in cheques of 5 pounds each, and that is our English banking. The borrowed money they have is in large sums, borrowed for terms more or less long. English bankers deal with an aggregate of small sums, all of which are repayable on short notice, or on demand. And the way the two employ their money is different also. A foreigner thinks an Exchange business that is, the buying and selling bills on foreign countries a main part of banking. . . But the mass of English country bankers . . .would not know how carry through a great Exchange operation . . . They would as soon think of turning silk into merchants. The Exchange trade is carried on by a small and special body of foreign bill-brokers, of whom Messr Rothschild are the greatest. . . [The] family are not English bankers, either by the terms on which they borrow money, or the mode in which they employ it. this was written by Victorian financial journalist Walter Bagehot in 1873.I think it is fair to label what Bagehot refers to as English banking, Adam Smith capitalism; America's founders were contemporaries of Adam Smith, whose Wealth of Nations was published in 1776. Smith was also a and their relationship to capitalism, before the publication of Wealth of Nations. {alert: Smith would probably not have done well in the Twitter world} One can surmise that the form of capitalism that Americans subscribed to in Adam Smith capitalism was based on an ethical system influenced by Christianity.My very, very rudimentary understanding of Sharia laws concerning finance suggest to me that it is more closely related to Adam Smith capitalism than to predatory capitalism.What do you think?

      March 2, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  11. Reality

    Sukkot ================>

    also Suk·koth (sʊk'əs, sʊ-kōs', sū-kôt')

    n. Judaism

    A harvest festival commemorating the booths in which the Israelites resided during their 40 years in the wilderness, lasting for either 8 or 9 days and beginning on the eve of the 15th of Tishri.

    Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/sukkot#ixzz1YWgdkeWp

    Considering the following, the current Israelites should give up the holyday/holiday:

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."

    September 21, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • Joshua

      So your logic is that because no one has seen actual evidence of Abraham, or Moses or David, then they never existed. OK. No has ever seen actual evidence of your brain or your soul, so we should also conclude that you have no brain and you as a person don't exist. Right?

      September 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      There is ample evidence for the existence of the human brain.
      I'm sure you wouldn't have any trouble finding someone willing to crack your skull open to prove it to you.
      I will agree with you about the complete and total lack of evidence for the soul, however.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • .........

      repeated spam garbage alert hit report abuse on all reality posts

      September 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  12. mfahmy

    I'm an Egyptian and don't approve that some Egyptians have stormed into the Israel embassy. but i have some comments. first the article doesn't mention that the Egyptian police and army officers were killed by Israelis, which got me annoyed it was an omission, for the purpose of the article, but show the article was not written by a neutral journalist. Second, what Egypt want to export or not, is its choice, we want to export something and to whom is our choice and no one has the right to say this is for that or not. third, i have no issue with Jews or Israels in general, except those whom are all the time whining about anyone who treats them differently. everyone has the right to exist, but u (6 mn) r living surrounded by 240 Arabs, and fail to get to their good side, i think u have issues 🙂

    September 21, 2011 at 5:55 am |
    • Carlos

      What does one thing to do with the other?
      Let's see, by 9/11 alqaeda nº2 was egyptian (now his nº1) people of almost every nationalities got killed there. Should every contry stop exporting to Egypt? It would be nice to see all of you return to pre-historic conditions right. Imagine your son needing some medecin and because it was german medicine, no we don't export it to you. Nice uhmm? you such a bunch of pre-historical people to say at least.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:25 am |
    • S.Jenkins

      Re-read the article and calm down:

      "Egypt has been incensed by the killings of Egyptian police, who died when Israeli commandos went after militants who had launched attacks against Israeli citizens near the Egyptian-Israeli border last month. Also, Israel was upset after Egyptian citizens angry about their country's relations with Israel stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo."

      Thus nothing was ommitted except the details found in earlier articles giving the number of police officers killed.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:27 am |
    • mfahmy

      @ carlos: please stop whining, bad apples are everywhere, of course 9/11 was a horrible event, but where the offenders originate from reflects nothing on their countries...

      September 21, 2011 at 6:39 am |
    • mfahmy

      @ jenkins yes but it says as if it was just a coincidence at the time of the Israelis where there not saying that they were killed by Israels... and there is big difference being killed by a country military and what carlos mentioned about 9/11 which happened by a rogue group, which no body approve of...

      September 21, 2011 at 6:45 am |
    • amirico

      mfahmy – Egypt is indeed free to do what it wants and we, in the FREE world, can call it out as a primitive and racist decision.
      Just something for thought- at the end of Ramadan, despite all the problems and issues Israel has with it's Muslim minority and neighbors, the president of Israel holds a special festive dinner for Eid to show honor and respect to Muslims.
      Egypt want a religious boycott against Jews? So be it.
      PS: 3 of the Egyptian border guards were accidently killed by Israeli forces. The 2 others were actually killed when one of the terrorists detonated his suicide vest next to them. But I guess you wouldn't know that as there is no free press in your country.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:50 am |
    • mfahmy

      @ amirico: please its getting really funny 🙂 it isn't for a racist reason, its for a diplomatic reason 🙂 it is really really funny how u interpret things 🙂 second, out of the Israels kindness to its neighbors, why doesn't it approve the commission of the Palestinian nation. if it is really good to its neighbors, i think that would be the least. and i am sure we will appreciate it 🙂 i believe israels have the right to exist, since everybody has the right to exist, but do Israel believe that everybody have the right to exist? i sincerely hope so, and would be the first to applaud it...

      September 21, 2011 at 6:58 am |
    • mfahmy

      @ amirico; the terrorists are not approved everywhere and should be persecuted where ever they are. to tell u the truth, if Israel fix its problems with Palestinians i think all the region will have less issues with terrorism. just start moving, u r smart people, start acting so, so we all be friends 🙂

      September 21, 2011 at 7:02 am |
    • Carlos

      #mfahmy So now if the offenders are egyptian shouldn't reflect, if the offenders are israeli should reflect. Tipical double arab standards. stop your's oink oink and go blow your friends.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:04 am |
    • amirico

      @ mfahmy : be respectful of your neighbor, especially his religious beliefs.
      I am not religious and won't be waving any Lulavs this October, but I think that purposely preventing the export of a religious "tool" is racist (for lack of a better term) against the people who belong to that religion. It's just a dirty move that won't cause any damage. Nothing more, nothing else.
      As for the Palestinian issue- there is a real chasm between the 2 sides that unfortunately can't be solved just by being kind (although that would be a good start).
      لقد يوم جيد

      September 21, 2011 at 7:10 am |
    • mfahmy

      @ carlos no of course as i said in my previous comment that terrorism is not approved and should be persecuted anywhere it is found. and look if u can't differentiate between the actions of some militant groups which we all in the Arab region are suffering from and the actions of the military forces of a country that reflect the strategy of their country then i hope u start to contemplate at what i am saying. i don't respect whining from Egyptians, Palestinians, Israelis or anybody else. either talk logic, and put things at their correct place or i will just laugh :)))

      September 21, 2011 at 7:12 am |
    • mfahmy

      @ carlos; i am really sorry that u had to go to insults at the end, i hope by time u can manage to have a whole discussion without getting angry and adopting these methods 🙂

      September 21, 2011 at 7:32 am |
  13. Egyptian

    Only for records, israel killed 7 police men on the Egyptian borders and one 1. They refused to apologize, this I call racist act

    September 21, 2011 at 5:31 am |
    • Adin

      Will Egypt apologize for letting terrorists operate from it's territory killing Israeli CIVILIANS?

      September 21, 2011 at 5:36 am |
    • Keith

      "To Jerusalem we are going, martyrs in the millions" – Muslim brotherhood Egyptians in Tahir Square. Doesn't sound very peaceful or friendly to me.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:19 am |
    • BNE

      Egyptian, you seem to be a nice guy, so why don't you give the whole story? This is what happened: a group of Hamas terrorists crossed through the Sinai (which BTW is Egyptian territory), and murdered 7 innocent Israeli citizens. The Israel army gave chase and unintentionally, I repeat unintentionally, the Egyptian soldiers got killed in the heat of battle. Israel immediately expressed its regret and agreed to a joint Egyptian-Israeli investigation committee. Sorry to burden you with the facts but this is as it was – short and simple.
      So while you may have your grievances against Israel, try and stick to the facts, however difficult it may be. Falsifying the facts with half truths or distorted facts doesn't place you in the best light. Hope you take a moment to consider this. And I really really hope that events in Egypt lead to an outcome which benefits the Egyptian people and the middle east. Shalom=Salam

      September 21, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  14. Hilo, HI

    kiss *off, I too lived off Gulf Shores and have family stationed there now. I could be from Mars, this is critical, probably the worse environmental crisis in USA, yet it is ignored b/c India, Haiti, Egypt, want to keep breeding away w/out resources?? This is crazy.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:14 am |
  15. BNE

    CNN: Excuse my question but who cares about this triviality? So the Jews have this quaint custom of waving palm fronds during one of their religious festivals (they've been doing this for over 3000 years). The Egyptians were making a bit of business from it and now for whatever petty and childish reasons they've decided to stop. I can predict with quite a degree of certainty that the world won't come to a standstill and life will continue somehow despite this event. Is it SO important that it merits room on your website for the second day now? BTW, I couldn't find any mention of this in any of the Israeli media, (but then of course who expects a free and independent media in Israel? A ludicrous thought).
    I wish the Egyptians and Israelis a happy Sukkoth festival.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:05 am |
    • Adin

      The importance is to show how Arabs think and operate. In order to harm Jews they will damage their own economy and quality of life for their citizens. It also shows that even though Israel gave Sinai (which comprised of 2/3 of its territory at the time) to Egypt for "peace" it may prove to be a mistake. IE, land for peace does not work.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:34 am |
    • S.Jenkins

      Wrong BNE, I've personally seen it covered on no less than 2 Israeli news sources (check out Haaretz & Jerusalem Post) and 1 Jordanian (The Jordan Times). Haaretz was even quoted in the article above, so seems like a little bit of fact checking is in order.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:19 am |
    • BNE

      S.Jenkins: If I missed it on the Israeli media I offer my apologies. Thanks for correcting me on this.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:35 am |
  16. octopuss

    The only ones who's upset and punished by this move are Egyptian farmers. Very smart. Good luck mixing ideology and business, Egypt! And they even included the whole diaspora, which has nothing to do with Israel's actions, in the ban. Doesn't it make this ban... umm... racist?

    September 21, 2011 at 3:40 am |
  17. Mathilda

    The Jews should stop this non-sense and trust in Jesus their Messiah as they should. Jesus of Nazareth is the One whom all their holidays signify. The Jews are experts in missing their God out. Don't persecute the Messianic Jews in Israel, please.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:09 am |
    • dbigbadned

      Mathilda dear, I respect your belief in Jesus, shame you can't do the same for the Jews. Who are you to decide who believes in what? What exactly are you going to use to prove and convince us that Jesus is the Messiah? Go back to your brainwashed routine, stop trying to brainwash others because you were brainwashed too. Also look for Constantine the Great and the Edict of Milan and research it to realize how and why Christianity shaped and created.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:29 am |
    • Mathilda

      The Jewish Bible declares Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah. You never read the Bible and have no idea.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:33 am |
    • Eli

      The Jewish Bible DOES NOT declare Jesus of Nazareth as the Jewish Messiah. Messiah is one who anointed by the Lord to be a king of Israel. The king of Israel is a human, not God. Your statement is a lie. BTW. how your comment is related with the article ?

      September 21, 2011 at 6:25 am |
  18. jesse

    aaaaand that's what happens when you indescrimanatly shell areas and people. You tend to make enemies rather easily doing that.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:06 am |
    • dbigbadned

      You are going to regret that humor when one day the Mexicans and the Native Americans will come back to retrieve the lands stolen from them by the white people. Just wait for capitalism to collapse.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:31 am |
    • Mathilda

      Nah, it's the Chinese. We'll have you all. Wait for us ; )

      September 21, 2011 at 3:34 am |
    • Keith

      Jesse, the Palestinians fire Grad and Kassam rockets and mortar shells into Israel against civilian populations on almost a daily basis. FYI, they're still doing it even though they're making a bid for "statehood" at the UN.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:27 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.