Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett is well-known as a fan of visual aids, a habit he may have learned from his former boss, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “nuclear duck” and “cartoon bomb” fame. Where other politicians release dry press statements, Bennett publishes videos of himself standing at a whiteboard explaining his views on topics ranging from tax breaks for large companies to the new arrangements at the Western Wall.
In his talk Thursday at the Caesaria Forum, an annual conference on economic and social issues, Bennett pulled from his pocket his latest prop: a cucumber.
It wasn’t any old cucumber; it was a cucumber with a story.
Recently, on a visit to a farm in India that was using Israeli agricultural expertise to train as many as 20,000 Indian farmers each year, Bennett learned that the cooperation with the Jewish state was doing wonders for India’s cucumber crop.
“There was an Indian doctor, a Ph.D., there who told me that until two years ago, they could grow one kilo of cucumbers in every square meter,” Bennett related while holding up a cucumber in his left hand. “Today” – with Israeli help – “the average farmer can grow ten kilos in a square meter.”
He waved the cucumber in the air and enthused, “That’s the state of Israel. That’s the narrative.”
After brandishing his cucumber, Bennett asked his audience to “imagine what would happen if there weren’t 10 Israeli agriculture companies in India, but 800, and in China and Africa too. There’s a change in the narrative.”
While India and Africa are a relatively small producer of cucumbers, China alone accounts for over 70 percent of global production.
Israel, Bennett concluded, “is a pilgrimage site for [countries seeking] innovation.”
There were no reports by press time of additional vegetables being deployed at the conference.