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Say sayonara to sushiby michael • February 15 2008
There's nothing worse than a stupid government, and unfortunately, Israel's often is. Their latest glaringly brilliant plan to save the country involves - wait for it - booting out all Asian-born chefs working in Asian restaurants in Israel and filling the vacancies with native sons. That sound you hear is the collective din of every sushi lover in Israel banging their heads against their sushi mats.
How exactly does this work? Let's say 500 chef jobs are "saved" - meaning Asian chefs are replaced with Israelis, most of whom will lack the training of the foreign-born chefs (not everyone can be sushi maven Boaz Tzairi). How many restaurants will close as a result of their food quality suddenly dropping? Certainly enough to cause the loss of far more than 500 jobs - restaurants employ dozens of people, from cooks to waiters to busboys. Ten closed restaurants would probably be more than enough to undo any "good" caused by this initiative.
This brings up an interesting contradiction: restaurants are not the only industry in which Asian workers are employed, and not nearly the largest. Thousands of Asian workers toil every day in Israeli kibbutzim, doing the hard agricultural labor many old-line Israeli kibbutznikim have become too bourgeois to deal with. These workers are also often unskilled and often, quite frankly, exploited - and they now form the backbone of a beloved symbol of Israeliness, the kibbutz system, as opposed to slinging a chef's knife in a restaurant devoted to their own native cuisine. Yet the government isn't making any motions to address that. Apparently it's worse to have a Thai chef in a Thai restaurant than a Thai fruit picker in a purportedly socialist kibbutz founded on the ideal of Jewish labor.
So what's the real story? Jerusalemite suspects a secretive cabal of falafel shop owners, tired of losing business to bizarre foreign foods, have bribed their way into the highest echelons of Israeli government, one grease-stained sack of crispy fried falafel balls at a time. You heard it here first.
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