A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, April 27, 2009

Loose Fruit: Tehran's "Citrus Plot"

Over the weekend, Iran was in a bit of an uproar over the apparent sale of Israeli citrus in Tehran; the fruit, an orange-grapefruit hybrid, had the Jaffa stickers on them, and this led to public controversy, and the use of the term "citrus plot" by Iranian officials who claimed it was unofficial and that those responsible should be arrested.

The BBC reports, however, that the fruit was actually imported into Iran from China, and is not actually of Israeli origin. So false-flagged fruit may be involved. Israelis seem to be following this with some amusement. Also another version here.

Assuming what most reports now seem to be assuming, that this is Chinese fruit masquerading as Israeli with counterfeit Jaffa stickers, it would suggest that someone in China doesn't know very much about Middle Eastern politics. A Jaffa sticker may be a sign of quality in Europe or Asia, but it's going to be noticed in Tehran.

Although I'm pretty sure in the present political climate this is exactly what it appears to be, I was reminded of being told by Israelis, back during the Iran-contra scandal, that they first began to suspect the three-way US-Iran-Israel connection in the secret arrangements when very high-quality pistachios showed up in abundance in Israeli markets.

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