It’s not often that an article about a commodity manages to capture a moment in current events, the political and economic realities of the Middle East, and a case study in globalization. Without waxing too Tom Friedman, a simple story about Israeli marble dealers highlights the realities of trying to impose international sanctions in an increasingly globalized world.
The article by Noa Oron, which appeared in the Maariv Friday Business Supplement and translated from Hebrew to English by Didi Remez, outlines the process through which Iranian marble makes it way into Israel.
To make a long story short, marble is exported from Iranian quarries to Turkey where it is cut, re-labled, and exported to Israel. Of course, this import of Iranian marble is in violation of orders banning trade with Israeli enemies, such as Lebanon, Syria and Iran.
Last year, there was a similar diplomatic blip over pistachios involving many of the same issues. Israel, the world’s largest per capita consumer of pistachios, was getting the nuts — through Turkish re-labeling — from Iran, the world’s largest exporter.
On the marble issue, Danny Catarivas, head of the Division of Foreign Trade and International Relations in the Manufacturers Association of Israel, told Oron:
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