The presence of an Israeli-made lighter has caused a minor scandal at Lebanon’s Beirut International Airport.
The operator of a store there put the product on display in the duty free area, after removing all evidence that pointed to their Israeli origin, including the Hebrew script on their packaging.
However, management of the store wasn’t thorough in its deception, failing to erase the Hebrew script on boxes for the lighters that were shipped to their warehouse.
A report aired last week on al-Mayadeen TV translated the Hebrew text, and uncovered the “plot.” In addition to the Hebrew script, the lighters bore the logo of James Richardson, the company that has operated the principal duty free license at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel since the 1980s.
So how did the “enemy” lighters make their way to Lebanon? According to Al-Akhbar, a Lebanon-based daily, paperwork attached to the boxes revealed that the primary destination was Tel Aviv-Milan. Upon the goods’ arrival in Milan, another form was affixed over the Israeli one, stating that the items were being shipped from Milan to Beirut.
Though the value of the lighters is negligible, according to Ahmad Merhi, a lawyer who lobbies against economic normalization with Israel, the value of these goods is not what’s important. Merhi told Al-Akhbar that the danger of marketing Israeli goods in Lebanon did not lie in Israel achieving financial profits, as much as in promoting the acceptance of the idea of having Israeli goods in Lebanon.
Lebanese law makes dealing with Israeli companies, whether directly or otherwise, an offense punishable by imprisonment for three to 10 years.