Jews, Officials Discuss Ethroo- Issue
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Inc.)
WASHINGTON —Sukkot came
early for the U.S. Department of
Agriculture.• Negroes of the Poor
Peoples' Campaign were dem-
onstrating outside the Department,
demanding a better share of the
harvest, and shaking the building
like a lulov (palm stalk). Inside, a
Jewish delegation was protesting
a newly-imposed ban on the impor-
tation from Israel of the Sukkot
citrus known as the ethrog. The
Negroes had marched from their
succah (booths) in Resurrection
City. Rev. Ralph Abernathy like-
ened them to the Jews who wan-
dered in the desert without proper
housing. He also compared him-
self to Moses. Pickets sounded
trumpets, denouncing the Agri-
Quality Work at
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culture Department as the citadel
of Jericho. Mannah came down
from Heaven in the form of a liber-
alized food stamp policy. Police
meanwhile • descended from patrol
wagons in an effort to stop the
The Jews, however, did more
than march outside the Promised
Land. They actually entered the
building and met with Agriculture
officials. The delegation included
Rabbi Morris Sherer, president of
Agudath Israel of America and
Roy H. Millenson, a U.S. Senate
staff official who represented Sen.
Jacob K. Javits, New York Repub-
lican. A ban was imposed on ethrog
last April to protect the American
citrus industry from possible Medi-
terranean fruit-fly infestation. Suk-
kot comes this year On October 6.
The ritual blessing on a ethrog
grown in Israel is commanded in
the Bible. Approximately 50,000 of
this ethrog species are imported
yearly from Israel and used dur-
ing Sukkot by more than one mil-
The Plant Quarantine Division of
the Agriculture Department said
it had no objection to admission
of the citrus, provided it was
sprayed with a chemical, ethelene
dibromide, before entry. But this
creates the problem. Jewish reli-
gious law requires that the ethrog
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be in perfect condition without any
blemish or discoloration. The
ethrog peel is extremely sensitive.
Israeli citrus experts claim that
the chemical treatment would dis-
color the ethrog. The rabbis con-
tend that even minor discolora-
tion would render it unsuitable
for ritual use.
F. A. Johnston, director of the
Plant Quarantine Division of the
Department of Agriculture, last
February met with Israeli diplo-
mats, ethrog importers and rabbis.
This group forwarded the new
fumigation requirements to Israel
for tests. Another problem
emerged. The ethrog cannot be
properly tested before it ripens.
The resistance of the peel de-
creases with the ripening process.
The harvest season extends from
the end of July through the end
of September. This would make it
impossible for importation of the
ethrog in time for the holiday
observance in early October.
Ethrog experts suggested that
the testing proceed but that
it be applied to the 1969 import
season. This year, because of the
time factor, every ethrog destined
for the United States would be
inspected by the Israeli Depart-
ment of Agriculture. An incubation
period would be imposed. The fruit
would be stored in a special ware-
house. Rabbi Sherer pointed out
that the Mediterranean fruit-fly
renders the ethrog unsuitable for
use because of punctures made
by the insect. So there are also
ritual reasons for vigilance.
Israel will pay for a U.S. Agri-
culture inspector to come to Israel
to supervise all examination, pack-
ing and shipping. This plan would
serve as an interim measure pend-
ing the results of the chemical
tests. Mr. Johnston has requested
100 samples of the ethrog for test-
ing in the United States. Because
of the harvest timing, they could
not arrive here until August ...
But the department has mean-
while agreed to seriously consider
the problem of this year's Sukkot.
It may accept the interim plan
By MILTON FRIEDMAN
(Copyright 1968, JTA Inc.)
formulated by Rabbi Sherer and
the Israeli ethrogists. Agriculture
officials feel that they have enough
trouble with minority groups over
food problems. Ritual debates with
Orthodox Jews they can do with-
"We are trying to meet the com-
plaints of the colored people on
the food issue and would prefer
to avoid this Talmudic question
about the color of an ethrog," said
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Friday, June 28, 1968-11
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WASHINGTON (JTA) — David
G. Nes, a former United States
foreign service officer who said
.he recently left the service as a
result largely of differences with
the State Department leadership
on Middle East development, com-
mented Tuesday in a letter in the
Washington Post on an article by
Parade Magazine last Sunday in
which Jack Anderson labels the
foreign service pro-Arab and anti-
The article had said "hostility
toward Israel is rife in our State
Department — the Department's
Near Eastern Division, even the
section that deals with. Israel, is
heavily loaded with diplomats who
have served in Arab countries and
whose sympathies are pro-Arab."
Nes said in his letter: "May I
suggest that what appears to some
to be a pro-Arab bias may be
simply pro-American — a sincere
and dedicated effort to protect
and develop U.S. interests in the
Middle East as they have been
identified in the relevant strategy
papers approved at the highest
level over the past 20 years. When
Mr. Anderson points to a growing
danger of a U.S:-Soviet confronta-.
tion.in the Middle East,. I cannot
but agree. But is not such a tragic
development only furthered by
our abandoning the Arab world to
the Soviet Union and placing ex-
clusive reliance on a secret mili-
tary commitment to Israel to pre-
serve the peace? I much fear that
unless we very soon regain a bal-
anced view of the Arab-Israel
problem, relating to the only to-
tality of long range U.S. interests
in the area rather than domestic
political opportunism, we will find
ourselves in a situation of far
greater gravity than the Cuban
missile crisis and far more costly
in blood and treasure than Viet-
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