Rising world food prices together with a cold snap sent the price of tomatoes skyrocketing throughout the Middle East. Haaretz columnist Amiram Cohen complained that the price of tomatoes in Tel Aviv jumped to NIS 12 for aging tomatoes and to NIS 23.30 in up-beat Ivn Givriol Street. That’s $7 a kilo! Cohen says that the problem is the way the world economy works, and suggests cutting out the long chain of middle men, and starting a vegetable patch in the balcony window box.
But is it really the fault of the economic system we have built, and is home planting the solution?
According to President Ahmadinejad manipulation by Iran’s “enemies” is the reason for a 16% inflation rate and tomatoes reaching $3.25 a kilo in Teheran : "In order to harm us, they (enemies) make plots, for instance they come and push tomato prices up in the market. They think we will give up our ideals with their plots." And his solution? Trust in Allah and the revolution. "Of course, God willing, the problem of meat, chicken and tomatoes will be solved. One should be aware that our revolution is like a bulldozer ... the enemies think by throwing a few small stones and sand they can stop this bulldozer,"
In its April Gaza Strip fact sheet, the United Nations is marginally more circumspect. While recognising that fuel transit depots and goods crossing points have been attacked, the UN completely ignores Hamas’ commandeering of fuel supplies in Gaza to create an artificial shortage. The report opens by complaining of Israeli restrictions on fuel limiting the UN’s ability to distribute food. The immediate next sentences: “Market prices increased significantly in the month of April. Tomato prices, for example, rose 156% [to NIS 3.20 or $1 a kilo].” The implication is clear. And while detailing all the hardships and health risks created by the fuel shortage, there is no mention of the ample fuel available to transport and launch incessant rockets to injure and traumatise Israeli civilians.
Meanwhile, the LA Times reports that in Egypt, Lebanon, Oman and other countries American policies are being blamed for increasing food prices. And organisations such as the Moslem Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Islamic Action Front and others are gaining ground amongst the poor – censuring the local regimes as well as the “enemy” for the crisis, handing out food together with their fundamentalist messages of hate.
Is commentary on the price of tomatoes still politically correct?