Oct 26, 2015

smuggling kosher food

Mynet is reporting about a group of performing artists from the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv that traveled to China for a series of performances. For their performances they sipped two containers full of equipment. The containers were stopped at the port and inspected. When undocumented contents were discovered, the containers were held up, and the theater group was fined. The fine was paid by the Cameri Theater and then the containers were released and the show went on!

What was it that was discovered in the containers that caused the problem?

kosher food.

some of the performers wanted to bring their kosher food with them, concerned kosher food would be difficult to find in China, and packed it into the containers with everything else, though it was not documented.

They smuggled it in, probably innocently, were caught, and the fine was paid.

"נסיעה ייצוגית". חברי משלחת הקאמרי ומארחיהם (צילום: דף הפייסבוק של הקאמרי)According to the report, this had been done many times before when traveling to various places, they had not been warned or told by the administrators to not put their food in, so it was all done in innocence.

Mynet, in their article, is clearly upset that the theater paid the fine instead of levying it on the artists themselves, especially as it was kosher food. I get that impression, because the kosher status of the food is mentioned numerous times. The problem with this is that the theater receives public funding, and now instead of using that money for developing art, they used x of it to pay a mundane fine.

I wonder, if the artists had just brought food, would it then have been more acceptable? Perhaps they understand and accept that the organization should provide food, but once it involves the expense of kosher food then it is no longer acceptable?

I see no problem with the organization deciding to pay the fine on behalf of the offending employees. It was probably an amount that would have been too prohibitive for the artists to pay themselves, and that would have out a dent in their ability to perform.

the organization, especially when traveling, has some sort of obligation to provide food for its employees who travel on their behalf. Companies who send employees abroad provide a per diem so that the employees can eat while traveling on behalf of the company. The fact that some of these employees in this case needed kosher food and were concerned because of the difficulty in finding kosher food in China led them to innocently pack some food into the containers. If the organization is paying for the food and travel, I see no problem with them deciding to pay for this fine as well. It is insulting to suggest that because they had to bring kosher food along the organization shouldn't pay on theior behalf.

In reality, the entire incident could and should have been avoided. The employees could have raised their concerns about kosher food before traveling. The Theater could have arranged to bring kosher food in legally with documentation, or to make alternate arrangements for kosher food to be provided in China.

But they didn't, though I am sure next time this will be taken care of in advance.

 The story is the story, and it could have gone either way and would not have bothered me. The only problem that bothers me is the indignant attitude of the author based on the fact that it was kosher food.

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