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Published on December 9th, 2010 | by Eli Clifton


Israel Can’t Quit Its Love Affair With Iranian Marble

The Wall Street Journal added itself to the list of publications publicly calling attention to Israel’s inability to cut all trade with Iran, the very country which the Journal’s Charles Levinson warns “may be bent on the Jewish state’s destruction.”

Levinson writes:

Iranian marble, it turns out, is featuring prominently in some of this country’s most prominent buildings, despite a near-total ban on trade with Iran.

Back in August, Didi Remez translated an article from the Maariv‘s Friday Business supplement which described how Israel, despite orders banning trade with enemies such as Lebanon, Syria and Iran, continues to purchase Iranian marble imported through Turkey, where its point of origin is relabeled. (I blogged about it at the time.)

Levinson speaks with Oded Tira, a retired IDF brigadier general and proponent of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear program, who told him:

“When you build with Iranian stone, you are funding the military machine, the nuclear machine.”

Tira added:

It’s like committing suicide.

Levinson writes:

“[Iranian marble] has a coffee color that you can’t find anywhere else,” effuses Avi Yerushalmi, owner of Israeli Marble, one of the country’s largest stone wholesalers. “Unlike other beige-colored marbles that tend to be very soft, Gohara is strong,” he adds.

With the United States and the EU having recently imposed tough new economic sanctions against Iran—and hawks in the United States are always calling for stricter enforcement of sanctions—there is a certain hypocrisy to Israel continuing its $22.6 million a year trade in Iranian marble.

Levinson, pointing to the potential embarrassment that this trade causes for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, queries an Israeli official about the ongoing trade.

“The Americans are boycotting Iran, and we’re buying,” says Gabby Bar, director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. “It doesn’t look good.”

The story of the Israeli demand for Iranian marble is not a story of conniving Iranian exporters, Turkish middle men or hypocritical Israeli consumers.  Instead, as I have emphasized before, it is an allegory for the realities the globalized economic system in which Iran actively participates. It should serve as a warning for those who claim that sanctions can starve Iran’s government into cooperation with international demands.  Instead, sanctions increase corruption and push Iran to explore alternative trading partnerships. And Israel still gets its marble.

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3 Responses to Israel Can’t Quit Its Love Affair With Iranian Marble

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  1. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    I remember when you wrote about this previously. Too bad it never gets any play elsewhere.

  2. avatar scott says:

    to embrace a stereotype. If Iranian sanctions really work, it will depress prices for Iranian goods, can the Jewish state resist such savings? Can a leopard change his spots?

  3. avatar dickerson3870 says:

    I don’t understand why Stuart Levey* can’t do something about this!
    * Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence within the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury
    SEE – Stuart Levey: The man trying to make anti-Iran sanctions work, By Ron Kampeas, JTA, 06/29/10
    LINK- http://jta.org/news/article/2010/06/29/2739828/stuart-levey-brings-diplomacy-to-financing-enforcement

About the Author


Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.

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  • Named after veteran journalist Jim Lobe, LobeLog provides daily expert perspectives on US foreign policy toward the Middle East through investigative reports and analyses from Washington to Tehran and beyond. It became the first weblog to receive the Arthur Ross Award for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis of Foreign Affairs from the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2015.

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