Posted on TIME – Middle East blogs;

This item from the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv made me chuckle, so I’ thought I’d share it. According to the Jewish calender, this New Year is shmita, the seven-year cycle in which Israeli farmers are supposed to kick back and let their fields lie fallow. This presents a pickle: Israelis still have to eat, so where are they going to get their fresh fruit and vegetables?

The easy answer would be: from Palestinian farmers. But given the current hostilities, the Jewish kosher inspectors don’t want to venture into enemy territory. So, according to Ma’ariv, a group of ultra-orthodox inspectors crossed into Jordan to go shopping there for tons of produce. They thought better of going into an Arab country wearing their usual beetle-black coats and skullcaps, even though Jordan is supposed to be a friendly country for Israelis.


At the Eilat/Aqba border, they changed out of their black coats, stuffed the white fringes into their trousers and switched their skullcaps for red-checked kaffiyehs, the head scarf worn by Palestinians and Bedouins.

Ma’ariv claimed that everywhere the five Israeli inspectors ventured in Jordan looking for juicy cucumbers and tomatoes, they were stopped by police and held for questioning. The reason? Their disguises were too good. With their kaffiyehs and wooly beards, the ultra-orthodox Jews were mistaken for Islamic militants of Hamas and al-Qaeda.

—by Tim McGirk/Jerusalem

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