last week i went to the downtown amman souq to go grocery shopping. i wanted some fresh fruits and vegetables and i loathe supermarkets. i thought that i mind find the market to be free of foreign goods, but i was wrong. and worse: much of the foreign imports were unmarked. i did find a few products to have stickers–such as watermelon from syria, bananas from saudi arabia, and apples from the united states (photos below). but buying local proved to be very difficult. even one of the main products of jordan–olive oil–was no where to be found. but i did find regional olive oil from syria, so that was fine with me. apparently, friends who are in the know tell me that big jordanian olive oil producers seeking to get rich are exporting their olive oil to the u.s. and the zionist entity in lieu of leaving enough around for local consumption.
but when i shop i’m also always looking to see what is there from the zionist entity. i couldn’t find any stickers or anything that looked like it might be from there. although i am told that “luxury” items like kiwis and mangoes are the sorts of products that tend to come from there. i did not see anything nor did anyone offer that as the place of origin when i inquired about where un-stickered fruits and vegetables came from. but that was last week. things have changed since then. i wrote about a major jordanian protest at the ministry of agriculture recently where people here were protesting the fact that produce from the zionist entity was unlabeled and so no one knew what to boycott at the market. well, that has all changed. on wednesday, jordan made a new law saying that fruits and vegetables from the zionist entity must be labeled. a small step towards victory:
ويأتي قرار الوزارة للحيلولة دون التغرير بالمواطن ببيعه منتجات إسرائيلية على أن منشأها محلي أو دولة أخرى، وبحيث يكون المستهلك حرا باختياره، إما “الشراء أو المقاطعة”.
وأكد الوزير بأن من يخالف القرار سيتعرض”لعقوبات مشددة”، وبأن هناك إجراءات مشددة من قبل الأجهزة الرقابية على المستوردين ومنافذ بيع الخضروات لإلزامها بوضع بيان منشأ البضاعة والمعلومات الخاصة بها، كما ستجري ملاحقة التجار الذين يقومون بإخفاء بلد المنشأ على الخضروات والفاكهة بهدف بيعها وترويجها بشكل غير قانوني.
وقد أفاد مدير عام اتحاد المزارعين محمود العوران بأن الإجراء يصب كذلك في صالح حماية المزارع الأردني، ذلك أن استيراد الخضروات والفواكه الإسرائيلية من شأنه أن يؤثر سلبا على المزارعين الذين يعانون أصلا من ظروف صعبة بسبب تكلفة الإنتاج والقروض.
يذكر أن وزير الزراعة كان قد أكد عدم قدرته على إلغاء الاستيراد من إسرائيل، لوجود “اتفاقية تجارة بينية” وقعتها المملكة معهم، ووقف الاستيراد يرتب عليها التزامات حيث تعد المملكة جزءا من منظمة التجارة العالمية.
وصرح الوزير “لا أملك صلاحية منع الاستيراد من أية دولة معترف بها أو بيننا وبينها اتفاقيات”، لكنه أشار بأن الوزارة تمنع استيراد أية منتجات يكون مصدرها” المستوطنات الإسرائيلية”.
وكانت المملكة قد استوردت نحو 1488 طنا من الخضروات و442 طنا من الفاكهة الإسرائيلية خلال النصف الأول من 2009، مقابل 4300 طن خضروات و260 طنا من الفاكهة في 2008 و 11 ألف طن خضروات و5400 طن فاكهة عام 2007.
but still, i wanted to see where the fruit and vegetables being imported from the zionist entity are. so i went to carrefour–france’s version of walmart–near my house to see if they label fruits and vegetables, particularly from the zionist entity. apparently, in france, they were the target of the boycotters who went did a terrific de-shelving campaign a few months ago. but at the carrefour in amman there seems to be no indication of any zionist products. not only that: this is the first store i’ve seen where all the produce is labeled with good-sized signs above each item (see below). so shoppers know exactly what they are buying and where it is from. now i need to check and see if other markets have this. and, i cannot wait to see the first stickers on fruits and veggies saying that they are from the zionist entity. so i will be on the lookout for that.
this focus here on buying local, which is something i always do wherever i live, is something that i want to do as a tactic (and hopefully part of a national campaign at some point…) to boycott items from the zionist entity while also supporting jordanian farmers. and while i’m at it avoiding buying american products would be good, too. the farmers in jordan, especially in the ghor or the jordan valley, are under siege from all sides it seems. they are often under attack from the zionists who make demands such as not allowing them to use natural fertilizer, and then, because of zionist collaboration with the government here, they have forced the farmers to buy american fertilizer. it’s a handy triad of imposing foreign rule over the farmers, the people who deserve our respect the most for their hard work and for feeding us even when it can barely bring them enough cash to feed their families. because of all these foreign agricultural imports in jordan the farmers are getting paid a pittance, but then the mark up at the supermarket is high, so that they farmers receive the least amount of money for their hard work in producing the fruits and vegetables in the first place.
but it doesn’t stop there. the devil is in jordan too. by that, i mean, of course, monsanto. here is the scant bit of information they provide on their website about their operations here:
although monsanto doesn’t say much about what they are doing in jordan, of course, we know they are up to their old tricks here (i’ve written about them elsewhere). like everywhere else they work around the world, they deceive farmers into using their seeds, to which only monsanto “owns” as they treat it as if it were intellectual property. and then the farmers cannot re-harvest their seeds. thus, they are forced to keep buying seeds from the monsanto people each year. it is a never-ending cycle. it is reminds me of a drug dealer-druggie relationship. or perhaps monsanto is just like a cockroach: something that you can never get rid of no matter how hard you try to exterminate it.
but it is not just monsanto who harms the farmers here. it is also usaid. i’ve quoted my dear friend rami zurayk’s long article on the dangers of usaid before. for those who haven’t read it yet, it is strongly advised to understand why there are many of us who refuse to have anything to do with it. it turns out that usaid has been doing its best to intervene in jordanian farming here. a friend was at an international conference here in amman that focused on environmental and agricultural issues in jordan. this was a conference for the farmers and the people who support them. for conservationists and people who actively work to help–local, activist people not foreign imperialists trying to intervene. but a man named john smith-sreen showed up and spoke on behalf of usaid at the end. no one who organized the conference knew he was going to be here and he was not welcomed by those in attendance (which was made abundantly clear to him). why? because he was from usaid in the office of water resources and environment. rather than say anything about the way in which agriculture is suffering because zionists steal water and because of the 1994 “peace” agreement with the zionist entity jordanians must cooperate economically by doing things like importing produce from zionist terrorist colonists and how these things affect jordanian farmers, instead this smith-sreen person decided to tell the audience that there should not be any agriculture in jordan any longer. and this is one of usaid’s tactics. they do things like destroy the agriculture so they can force its produce on foreign markets. and this is one of many reasons why they are so dangerous.
and usaid just creeps in all over the place–even in places where you’d least expect it. last month i noticed in jo magazine an add for souk jara, an outdoor craft and food fair that goes on throughout the summer in amman. the ad had a list of sponsors at the bottom and one of them was usiad (see photo below):
jordan times reported their sponsorship too, but last night when i went there to help my friends out with their booth i did not see any such usaid logo on the entrance sign:
hopefully the souk jara organizers realized what a colossal mistake they made by allowing usaid to sponsor their already successful weekly market. it will be a beautiful day when entities like usaid, monsanto, and the zionist entity no longer exist. until then, the struggle must go on.