It’s also silly season in Israel

The formerly very good Israeli newspaper Haaretz has joined the pathetic platoon of media that just simply can’t get it right about the world’s biggest rice exporter.

The newspaper today has a report by correspondent Ora Coussin on the international rice trade and how it affects Israel. It focusses on India, because Israel buys a lot of Basmati rice, and because there is a very helpful rice merchant, Doron Frankenstein, who can explain the rice trade to correspondent Coussin.

Too bad the story veers off the excellent background it offers on the Indian trade. Because suddenly, for no apparent reason, the story takes a wild swing from factual reporting and says:

Frankenstein believes the taxes imposed in India on rice exports will start to be felt in Israel soon, leading to a further increase of about 30% in the price of Basmati – on top of the latest price hikes of about 60% on average. The fact that Thailand just announced its suspension of rice exports will contribute to the upward spiral. India and Israel are responsible for 50% and 30% of Israel’s rice imports, respectively.

(Emphasis added. Also, I am resisting with every fibre in my body the obvious chance for a cheap shot about this monster of a report.)

But come on! Really? Thailand has announced a suspension of rice exports? Funny that no one in Thailand such as rice exporters or the government or the media knows about it.

And here and also here and here, too, and… well, look it up yourself, Google News is your friend.

Let us be clear: Thailand has not suspended rice exports. Thailand, the world’s top rice exporter, has positively and repeatedly stated it will continue to export rice. Such assurances have come from the government, all leading rice exporting companies, the local press, and international media based in Thailand.

Let us recapitulate. The New York Times (from Paris) reports food riots in Thailand that didn’t happen. Four days later, The New York Times, this time in a report written in New York, again reports food riots which didn’t happen in Thailand. Then our French friends at the national news agency AFP report in a dispatch from Paris thatvolatile crowds of Thai workers demonstrated on May Day about the prices of food. And now, from Israel, we have a worldwide exclusive on the end of rice exports from the world’s leading rice exporting nation, which also didn’t happen.

And that is just one lonely blogger not really looking for such material. I wonder how much I have missed. Is there anyone out there who can report?

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