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. TFSSR

    Hm. Sounds like a NONVIOLENT POLITICAL PROTEST by Egypt over the deaths of their soldiers by Israel.

    I don't know why that should be discouraged, especially in the middle east.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Because it's just another round of ill will whose main effect is to impoverish the farmers who grow and sell the fronds.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  2. I Am That I Am

    The Jews are not My chosen people, they're just good creative writers. Didn't the fact that they quoted their own religious books tip you off?

    September 20, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  3. I Am That I Am

    No they are not. As proof, I have not given them the capacity to grow their own palms for Sukkoff.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  4. Big Phart

    Palm Fond Nazi: No palm fronds for you. Come back, one year!

    September 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  5. Jesus Is Lord

    The Jews are God's chosen people and Israel is their promised land. God bless Israel and her people – the Jews.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • Mick

      Wow, you're not kidding they're his chosen people. I read Exodus recently...he really kicked the crap out of anyone who wasn't Jewish.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm |

      JEsus is not considered lord by a 1/4 of earth. He is a Prophet. Abraham not Jews are God's Chosen stop being HITLERESQUE WITH THE CHOSE RACE crAP.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • Hilo, HI


      September 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      You guys know that Exodus was written by Jews for Jews don't you?

      September 20, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • TFSSR

      I thought we were ALL God's people. Palestinians and Egyptians included.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • LuisWu

      All religions are just ancient mythology. When will people get a clue? I can't believe there are that many people in the world that are that stupid.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  6. BCA

    Boo Hoo, the Jews can't wave their sticks this year, and the Arabs are going to just sit on all of them. Why do we even bother intervening the collective armpit of the world known as the middle east?

    September 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • puppet boy

      Yes, what once was the craddle of civilization is now the armpit of the world. See what we have to look forward to someday. I wonder...which part of the world will view us as such someday?

      September 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Hilo, HI

      Any society living in the Dark Ages of female-oppressive religions deserves to perish.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  7. Gary Y

    Idiots... then they'll turn around and ask for economic help due to lack of demand for their products....Nothing new..at the end, just blame Jews for negatively effecting Arab economies...LMAO

    September 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • TFSSR

      ... or even worse. Gasp! They (Palestinians) might ask for the end of apartheid and EQUAL POLITICAL RIGHTS in their historic homeland! One man, one vote in the Gaza Strip and West Bank! The OUTRAGE! The AUDACITY!

      September 20, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  8. Cando

    How often we pay a heavy price ourselves to punish someone else. I think they should contain their disputes to the matters at hand but none of thse middle eastern countries know what a boundary is – emotional or georgraphical.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  9. LR

    Let the Egyptians EAT them!

    September 20, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  10. NorCalMojo

    The new Egypt seems to be a petty little nation. This is a pretty juvenile tantrum.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • Cando

      Well said.

      September 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • FatSean

      Kinda like how the USA treats Cuba and Iran.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:08 pm |

      Killing of people just because they are not white or don't share you crap beliefs doesn't make them sub human. Go get some knowledge and being ignorant. Some beliefs actually make more sense then yours.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • TFSSR

      Wait a sec... Israel kills four Egyptians in a CONTROVERSIAL episode, doesn't apologize, and Egypt, as a result of what they see as the murder of their servicemen, boycott palm fronds...

      And you think this is an OVERREACTION?

      Wow, if four Americans were killed by Israel, and all we did was suspend zucchini shipments for September, I don't think people would consider that an overreaction.

      Then again, with AIPAC, maybe Congress would be falling over itself to pass a resolution insisting that we Americans had it coming to us and should be grateful.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • Hilo, HI

      How? 95% of Egypt's food is now from America. (Russia had the contract, and just broke it after two years of drought. US picked it up, why OUR food prices spiked last year.) See NOAA website short video -a horror. The 100s of MILLIONS of TONS of chemical fertilizers it takes to sqeeze more out of the already critically depleted US corn-wheat belt runs off down the Miss Riv into the Gulf, hence an ever-growing DEAD ZONE the size of NJ -a worse crisis than BP spill. Not just Egypt, India, Africa, Mid-East, Haiti....FEEDING THE WORLD IS MAKING MONSANTO & BIG AGRI RICH, SUPPORTS OVER-BREEDING IN RELIGIOUS-IGNORANT POPULATIONS, AND IS DESTROYING AMERICA, -esp, bye-bye Cajuns hanging on bt their fingernails. A vote to Feed Somolia = a vote to Wipe Out the Cajuns, and Gulf Seafood.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  11. Robert

    Petty people. Arabs never miss a chance to shoot themselves in the foot.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Hilo, HI

      Neither do we.
      See above post re Gulf DEAD ZONE due to feeding Egypt.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  12. Cajun_Dude

    Israeli arrogance is the cause of that. They are spreading over occupied land and seizing property, The original inhabitants are left with some half-citizen status. They passed laws that made it illegal to boycott anything from "the settlements", or occupied land. It makes Israel look more and more like Germany in the 30s, before the war.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • jpeditor

      I lived on the Gulf for a few years and I never met such a stupid Cajun as you. Your comment is filled with LIES.

      "They are spreading over occupied land and seizing property,"

      BS – THe land was Jewish for thousands of years before islam began,

      "The original inhabitants" WERE JEWS.

      " are left with some half-citizen status."

      Crap – Arabs living in in Israel are full citizens; those in the territories are under the control of the PA which has no "state" becuase the refuse to negotiate in good faith for one even when it has been repeatedly offered – the PS FLAG shows ALL OF ISRAEL.

      " They passed laws that made it illegal to boycott anything from "the settlements", '

      You're a liar – go boycott YOUR COMPUTER since it and the OS were co-designed in ISRAEL.

      "occupied land."

      There is no occupied land. That land NEVER PART OF ANY MUSLIM STATE THAT HAD A MUSLIM CAPITAL IN ISRAEL. It had only been "occupied" by ARAB SQUATTERS after muslims stole ti from Romans who stole it from the Jews. READ YOUR BIBLE.

      " It makes Israel look more and more like Germany in the 30s, before the war. "

      Jackwad, Germany before the war was throwing Jews in concentration camps; THERE ARE NONE IN ISRAEL, there are only "camps" in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria and Egypt where they REFUSE TO GIVE CITIZENSHIP to the grandchildren of their fellow arab citizens.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • TFSSR

      Sheesh, jpeditor. Read a book. Scratch that. Read a book written THIS CENTURY.

      Cajun_dude's summary is right on. I mean RIGHT on. That's about the situation, as he describes it.

      And Cajuns are awesome, by the way.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • Hilo, HI

      BOTH of you, Cajun & from Gulf, PLEASE, READ my above post re the GULF'S DEAD ZONE caused by USA FEEDING EGYPT. (and others)

      OK, kiss of the Gulf to 'Feed the World' and After a DEAD GULF, then what?? The gov't NOAA site is REAL. THis is real. Who cares about palm frods and UN membership, these ancient cults are overbreeding in deserts that cannot sustain them, and SOON, neither can anyone else. WORLDWIDE FAMINE WHEN 9 BILLION IN 2050??? WHAT?


      September 21, 2011 at 5:11 am |
  13. berman

    Ever hear of cutting off your nose to spite your face?

    September 20, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  14. KKKristians

    Oh you go Egypt. Those lost sales of yours will really show those Israelis what for, won't it?! It never ceases to amaze me how people will harm their own financial interests to just prove a spiteful point.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  15. sam kohen

    So Israel ill instead import them from Gaza. Hamas will be the winner. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    September 20, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  16. swindler

    Since Rick Perry is such a great friend of Israel-maybe he can grow some in Texas and ship them there.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Jezmundberzerker

      Oh, please, keep him in Texas.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Grower 613

      They do grow them near Brownsville

      September 20, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  17. Dennis

    Arab Spring = more anti-Israel/anti-Jews policies

    September 20, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Anon


      September 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  18. Don

    Putting politics aside, its a revenue loss to Egypt. If they were smart, they could have doubled the price.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • KKKristians

      Oh dear sweet Lydia, no one is as stupid as you, you toothless inbred hick. Don is 100% correct and you my dear have no brain waves.

      September 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • LR

      Look who's on your side: KKKristians. Tell you something?

      September 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • aaahhhh

      I see herbert is here.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  19. Anon

    Idiots will say the jews stole land. But looking back at history, palestine never existed, it's people is just a collection of arabs from surrounding nations that never went home after the egypt and jordan wars. The land they are on is israels, that israel won after the war, how it's palestinians all of a sudden is a damn mystery to me. If they want statehood, accept Israels right to exist and they will even help you. Deny them and of course they will protect themselves. Just this year Israel has seen over 1000 rockets hit it's cities.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Engrish Teecher

      It's = a contraction of "it is"

      Its = the possessive (that thing had its thing on backwards)

      September 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • chuckmartel

      Very true. There is really no such thing as a palestinian. Just a bunch of Jew hating arabs fuming over Israel's success at turning a desert wastland into a productive country. All the fuss about Israel taking very measured responses to the genocidal arabs shooting rockets at them. In 1970, King Hussain of Jordan rubbed out 10,000 of the so called palestinians when they began acting up. No fuss from the world community then. Hussein rubbed out many thousands more in the next couple of years.

      September 20, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • kbnj

      Right. So it's OK to steal people's homes by the hundreds of thousands? And starting and winning a war justifies taking further land, but rocket attacks are terrorism? I'm not anti-Israel any more than I'm pro-terrorism, but there's TWO sides to this story, and Israel is so VERY FAR from the moral high-ground it stinks.

      September 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm |

      Allow all the palestinians to come back and vote. Let there be one country. GUESS what there are more Palestinians then Israeli, if freakin russian jews can go to Israel then every palestinian has every right to go back. this is ethnic cleansing, bigotism, racism of the worst kind. Just because you are white or inbred with each other doesn't make the rest of the world subhuman. What makes your beliefs better then mine. Go to New Jersey or Texas and call it Israel if you love them so much.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • TFSSR

      And Anon's post summarizes succintly the idiocity and racist brutality of Israeli Right Supremacist Ethnic Cleansers.

      They want the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a "Jewish State," ie, to sign-off on WHATEVER Israelis do to guarantee a jewish majority as "okey-dokey."

      But at the same time, refuse to even acknowledge the very EXISTENCE of Palestinians.

      Ridiculous. History is catching up, and does not treat pro-apartheid supremacists nicely, Israeli-right wingers.

      September 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  20. T3chsupport

    I do kinda feel sorry for the Egyptians who are used to that yearly income. That would be like if no one bought a Christmas tree one year, and left the growers with a bunch of worthless pines.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Thinker

      I agree with you there. This is kind of a dick move by the Egyptian gov't and it hurts some of their own people economically as much as it hurts the Israelis religously. Not that it would be the right thing to do but they could have just raised the price of the fronds. Better though to just not do stuff like this at all.

      September 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • Don

      I think Christmas Tree's are considered evergreens. Could be wrong though. I smoked a lot of sensi bud in college

      September 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
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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.