A substantial increase in Palestine wine imports into the United States should prohibition be abolished was predicted here yesterday by Jacob Shapiro, head of the Rishon le Zion Wine Company, who arrived in the United States in the interests of this eventuality.
In an interview with a representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Mr. Shapiro pointed out that before the prohibition law was enacted his company exported to America some 60,000 cases of wine annually. The sales were small at the time because the company itself was still young and had not grasped the opportunities which presented itself.
Palestine wine today has, however, a real clientele in this country among those who use wine for sacramental purposes, he said.
The Company has been scrupulous in its observance of the prohibition regulations and has been careful to sell its wine for sacramental purposes only. This, of course, has resulted in a tremendous drop in its sales, he pointed out.
Even in the eventuality that prohibition is not repealed, there will be 15,000 cases of Palestinian wine imported this year inasmuch as sufficient contracts for sacramental wine have already been placed, he stated.
Mr. Shapiro notes a growing tendency to use Palestine wine for religious purposes.
Asked concerning the competition of Palestine wine with the California product, Mr. Shapiro stated the rivalry is negligible. The wine production potentialities of Palestine are slight compared with those of California. Then too Palestine wine has a specific useâ€”for sacramental purposes,â€”and is beginning to assume the character of a tradition.
Mr. Shapiro sees in the growth of the wine industry in Palestine a healthy companion to the growth of the orange industry.
At present Egypt and Syria are the greatest consumers of Palestine wine, although Palestine itself is developing a clientele for this product.
Mr. Shapiro is also identified with the Pica and its mills in Palestine.
The Pica, he pointed out, has a matzoth factory in Palestine, established by Baron de Rothschild. The matzoth factory was established in the belief that Palestine matzoth might be exported for Passover use. This expectation has not yet been realized, however. While in this country, Mr. Shapiro will seek to arrange for their import. He will also endeavor to arrange for the
import of Palestine raw materials for perfume manufacture.
Questioned concerning general conditions in Palestine, Mr. Shapiro said that the country is making slow but sure and lasting progress. Tel Aviv, he said, has grown industrially. There are now six thousand industrial workers in Tel Aviv where a number of small industries have been launched primarily by Polish Jews. Another important element are the Sephardic Jews coming from the Orient. Mr. Shapiro described them as industrious and economical and helpful in the progress of the country.
Asked concerning the relations between the Jews and the Arabs, Mr. Shapiro replied that it is impossible to forecast political peace at this time. It is, however, to be expected that cooperation in the economic life of the country will weaken the hatred which is stimulated by the extremists among the Arab Nationalist groups.