the Toughest Man in Cairo vs the Zionist Vegetable


Kamal could see it. A flood of Israeli vegetables, inundating the Egyptian market, washing away the old dream of agricultural self-sufficiency. More pernicious still: the image of oversized Zionist produce coming for his two young daughters. Kamal was very concerned with what his children put in their mouths. “It is difficult to keep them pure,” he complained, before listing the few shops that still sold untainted greens from Umm Al’Dunya. But it wasn’t just the vegetables. In the years since Sadat’s policy of infitah liberalized the Egyptian economy, delectable imports have come dancing through the open door to tempt the girls of Egypt. It began with foreign banks, foreign aid, and joint ventures with Xerox, Colgate-Palmolive, and Ford; and it culminated in a torrent of chocolates from Hershey’s and Nestlé, as well as Dove Bars, Lay’s potato chips, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, acid-wash jeans, waffles, bikinis, rap music, exercise videos, Britney Spears, and lesbianism. If he had a son, things would be easier. But Kamal has not been so lucky. He’s been trying to have a son for years. He tries every night, he told me, but all his wife has given him are girls he will lose one day to a wet t-shirt contest and the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet in Sharm el Sheikh.

more from Bidoun here.