Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) has called on the Egyptian government to lift its ban on the export of lulavs in time for Sukkot.
Egypt is one of the largest suppliers of the palm fronds that form the spine of the ritual lulav, and the ban threatens to cause "financial hardship for families and communities simply wishing to fulfill their religious obligations," Berman wrote Wednesday to Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. (See Helen Chernikoff's report on the ban here.)
Egyptians claim they are merely trying to prevent overharvesting, but the short notice given and recent tensions between that country and Israel create the perception that the ban was actually imposed for purely political reasons, said Berman, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Los Angeles congressman urged the Egyptians to "reassess" their decision in time to prevent any disruption in the supply of lulavs before Sukkot.
Unspoken was the potential damage the Egyptians are doing not only to their relations with Israel but with Israel's friends on Capitol Hill, who vote on that country's $1.3 billion annual foreign aid package.
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