Tag Archives: Great Britain

Liberators or Terrorists? The Origins and History of Israel and Hamas

As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rages on, much of the focus lately has been on Hamas.

Critics say the group is a terrorist organization that wants nothing but to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth.

Supporters say Hamas, which represents the only organized Palestinian military force, is a coalition of freedom fighters and liberators defending the Palestinian people.

But where did the organization even come from? And how has is it become what it is today?

Hamas militants in training. Click to enlarge

Thinking you can understand the current conflict by looking at only the past few years of its history is like thinking you understand calculus because you passed freshman algebra.

Hopefully, this quick piece can be a pre-cal of sorts for people wanting to really understand the history between Israel and Palestine.

In 1917, Great Britain occupied Palestine during a period of British expansionism. Assisting in the conquest of Palestine was a Jewish military volunteer group known as the Jewish Legion.

This group was comprised primarily of Zionists, Jews who believed that it was God’s will for them to one day return to their ancient homeland (Mt. Zion is located in the heart of Jerusalem).

“Jewish Legion soldiers at the Western Wall after British conquest, 1917.” Click to enlarge (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1920, Palestinian riots led to the formation of a Jewish militia known as the Haganah. The militia was formed by Jews who felt that Britain had no interest in confronting the Arab populations in the region who were expressing their disapproval for the ongoing British occupation.

Between 1919 and 1929, 100,000 more Jews migrated to Palestine. This led to an Arab revolt in the late 1930s, which prompted Britain to pass legislation limiting Jewish migration to the territory.

But World War II and the Holocaust displaced millions of Jews in Europe, and many of them sought a new life in the primarily Jewish British-held areas of Palestine.

Britain found itself in a conflict with the Haganah, who wanted to establish an independent Jewish state, while also trying to deal with the Arabs and Palestinians who were still upset that their traditional lands had been occupied in the first place.

So Britain basically gave up. They said they couldn’t solve any of the problems between the Jews and the Arab Palestinians and pulled out of the area in 1947.

General Sir Evelyn “Bubbles” Barker led the occupying British forces in Palestine between 1946 and 1947. Click to enlarge

Later that year, the UN passed UN Resolution 181, splitting up the Palestinian territory into separate Jewish and Palestinian states.

The resolution was signed without the agreement of the Palestinian Arabs in the region. The United States had promised the Palestinian Arabs that they would be consulted before any decision was reached, but that promise was broken.

So as soon as the resolution was passed, fighting began, with Arab forces attacking Israeli territories that had formerly been part of Palestine before UN Resolution 181.

Israel won that war, thanks in part to weapons acquired secretly from western countries like the United States and France who were sympathetic to the Jewish cause but didn’t want to become publicly involved.

Not only did they hold onto their own territory, they captured 50% of the territory that had been given to the Palestinians under the UN resolution.

The change of territory following UN Resolution 181 and the resultant war. Click to enlarge

In 1964, a number of Arab countries sent representatives to Cairo for the Arab League Summit. The goal of the summit was to resolve inter-Arab conflicts in the region so that the Arab countries could unite in their struggle against what they saw as western imperialism and Israeli aggression.

It was at this summit that the idea for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, or PLO, was born. The stated goal of the PLO was to “liberate Palestine through armed struggle”.

Although the dominant religion in these Arab countries was Islam, the PLO was comprised mainly of secular Palestinian factions (the largest being the Fatah party), who were actually wary of the rise of Islamic extremism.

Arab leaders in front of the Nile Hilton Hotel in Cairo during the Arab League Summit in 1964

Historically, Palestinians have been a religiously tolerant people. For hundreds of years, Muslims, Jews and Christians alike lived peacefully together as fellow Palestinians. The PLO wanted to make sure that this tolerance was preserved.

In fact, the Islamic extremism which is now considered the backbone of Hamas was actually encouraged by Israel itself.

In 1967, Israel fought the Six-Day War against an Arab federation led by Egypt. At that time, the PLO was quickly becoming popular among Arabs in the region, and this worried Israel.

So using PLO guerilla activity as a pretext, Israel took over the Palestinian territory of Gaza and began systematically hunting down members of the PLO and the Fatah party.

To combat the PLO’s secular influence in the region, Israel began encouraging Islamic activism in Palestine. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this Israeli policy was a man named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza at the time.

Sheik Ahmed Yassin

In 1973, Yassin established the Islamist group Mujama al-Islamiya. The organization was officially recognized as a charity by Israel  in 1979.

Yassin used the organization to establish mosques and Islamic schools in Gaza, as well as a library. But Yitzhak Segev, an Israeli official who served as governor of Gaza in 1979, says that he had no illusions about Yassin’s real intentions.

Segev had personally witnessed an Islamist movement in Iran which eventually led to a military coup that toppled the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953. The coup cleared the way for the Shah of Iran (the country’s highest-ranking Muslim cleric) to take power.

Men celebrating the military coup in the streets of Iran’s capital city of Tehran in 1953. Click to enlarge (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

He and other Israeli officials worried that the same would soon happen in Gaza, but because of the tensions in the region at the time, they were reluctant to speak out, fearing they would be accused of being enemies of Islam.

So Segev said nothing. In 1984, Israeli intelligence got word that Yassin’s group was stockpiling weapons in a Gaza mosque. They raided the mosque and arrested Yassin, who claimed the weapons were meant for use against secular Palestinian groups like the PLO, not for use against Israel.

He was released from jail a year later, and continued to spread Mujama’s influence in Gaza. Then, in 1987, he established Hamas with six other Palestinians as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The first leaflet they distributed blamed Israeli intelligence for undermining the social fabric of young Palestinians in order to recruit Palestinian “collaborators”.

But despite this harsh language, Israel continued to focus on the Fatah party and the PLO, even meeting with senior Hamas officials as part of “regular consultations” that they held with Palestinian officials not linked to the PLO.

Mahmoud Zahar was one of the Hamas leaders who met with Israeli officials in the early days of the organization’s existence (Photo: AFP)

It wasn’t until Hamas kidnapped and murdered two Israeli soldiers in 1989 that Israel started to pay attention to the group.

In response to the kidnappings, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) arrested Yassin and deported 400 Hamas activists to an Israeli-occupied region of South Lebanon.

During its time in South Lebanon in the early 90s, Hamas built a relationship with the Lebanese jihadist group Hezbollah and established its military division, the al-Qassam Brigades.

Throughout the early 90s, the al-Qassam Brigades carried out numerous attacks and suicide bombings on Israel. However, Hamas was centered in Lebanon and Jordan at the time, making it hard for Israel to eliminate them.

In 1993, Israel and the PLO agreed to the Oslo Accords, which established the Palestinian Authority as a governmental body to represent the Palestinians. This helped stem some of the violence the region experienced in the early 90s.

Isreali Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat agree to the Oslo Accords in 1993. The U.S. played a major role in brokering the deal. Click to enlarge (Photo: AP)

Then, in 1997, a failed Israeli assassination attempt on a Hamas leader in Jordan and the resulting political fallout led to the release of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who had been put in jail for life for the murders of the Israeli soldiers in 1989.

2000 brought about a renewal of the bloody conflict, with a surge in Hamas suicide bombings prompted by the growing number of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian-controlled territory of the West Bank.

In 2004, Yassin offered a military truce to Israel, asking for the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem in exchange. Israel turned down the truce, and Yassin was killed by a targeted air strike two months later.

In 2006, Hamas became entrenched in the Palestinian government. Though the group had boycotted the Palestinian presidential election a year before, they decided to take part in the legislative elections in 2006. They did remarkably well, wining 76 of the 132 available seats (Fatah won 43).

Results from the 2006 elections. Click to enlarge

The relationship between Hamas and Fatah has always been rocky. Skirmishes have broken out between the two factions on countless occasions. At one point, Israeli intelligence even informed Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas that Hamas was planning to assassinate him.

Despite their past differences, however, Abbas announced in March of 2012 that Fatah and Hamas were on the same page. He told Al-Jazeera,

“We agreed that the period of calm would be not only in the Gaza Strip, but also in the West Bank… We also agreed on a peaceful popular resistance [against Israel], the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders and that the peace talks would continue if Israel halted settlement construction and accepted our conditions.”

Feb. 23, 2012: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (right) with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (left) at a meeting between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo. Click to enlarge (Photo: UPI/ Mohame Hams)

But this declaration of unity is seeming pretty hollow now.

Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah have proposed a number of ceasefires between Israel and Palestine during this latest flare-up of the conflict, but Hamas has refused the deals, demanding that Israel move its citizens out of settlements in Palestine if they want a ceasefire.

One of the reasons that Hamas was able to gain so much political power in the mid-2000s was that Palestinians had become fed up with the corruption of the Palestinian Authority (led by the Fatah party) by the time the 2006 elections rolled around.

Unfortunately, the added political power that Hamas gained when they took over Palestinian politics that year led to the same corruption that the Palestinian people had tried to get rid of by voting the Palestinian Authority out of power.

Dorothy Peskin is an Israeli analyst who recently released a detailed report about Hamas corruption in Gaza. She put it this way:

“With multi-million land deals, luxury villas and black market fuel from Egypt, Gaza’s (Hamas) rulers made billions while the rest of the population struggles with a 39 percent poverty level and 40 percent unemployment.”

Hamas leader Khaled Mashal is rumored to be in control of more than $2.6 billion dollars of Hamas assets, according to a source in Jordan

The average Hamas fighter today may truly believe in the Palestinian liberation cause, but power and influence almost always lead to corruption.

In my opinion, the leaders of Hamas have shown that they are more interested in maintaining their own power, influence and wealth than in actually helping the Palestinian people. Their strategy of maximizing civilian casualties by firing rockets from heavily-populated areas is just one example.

However, we must also recognize that Israel played a big role in establishing Hamas in the first place because of their fear of the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization.

An American intelligence report discussing relations between Israel and Hamas was recently published by the news leak website Wikileaks.

In the leaked document, dated September 23, 1988, U.S. intelligence officials say,

“Many in the West Bank believe that Israel actively supports Hamas, in its effort to split the Palestinian nation and weaken the Intifada.”

The document also notes that although Israel was arresting a number of Palestinians at the time, very few were members of Hamas. The document went so far as to say,

“We believe that not only does Israel turn a blind eye on Hamas activity, but even supports it.”

You reap what you sow. There are countless examples of countries supporting groups that end up coming back to bite them in the ass (the U.S.-trained mujahideen are a good example).

The bottom line is that there are no clear cut good guys or bad guys in this conflict, just lots of historical wounds that are still festering today. I just hope this history helped you make a little more sense of it all.

The Story of Henry “Box” Brown: The Slave Magician Who Mailed Himself to Freedom In A Crate

Henry “Box” Brown was born into slavery in 1816. He and his family worked on a plantation in Louisa County, Virginia.

Henry’s experience as a slave was one of the better ones. In his autobiographry, he describes his slave master as, “…uncommonly kind, (for even a slaveholder may be kind),” and added that he was revered almost as a god amongst the slaves.

But one day, after Henry had grown up, married and had kids of his own, things took a bad turn. After the plantation sold his wife and children off to a different slave owner, Henry remembers having a “heavenly vision” that told him to mail himself to freedom.

In 2012, Virginia approved a historical marker honoring Henry “Box” Brown in Louisa County. Click to enlarge

So, with the help of abolitionist C. A. Smith and a sympathetic local shop keeper, Henry devised a plan to ship himself to a free state via the Adams Express freight and cargo company.

Henry paid $86 (more than half of all of his savings) to Smith to set everything up. Smith contacted a pastor in Philadelphia who suggested that they mail the crate to the offices of a Quaker merchant known as Passmore Williamson.

Quaker abolitionist Passmore Williamson. Click to enlarge

When the day arrived to put the plan in motion, Brown burned his hand down to the bone with sulfuric acid to get out of work for the day. Then, he slipped off to meet up with Smith and begin his harrowing journey.

Henry was in the crate for a harrowing 27 hours. During this time, the 3-foot long crate traveled by wagon, railroad, steamboat, wagon again, railroad, ferry, and railroad again before finally making the last leg of its trip in a delivery wagon.

Although the crate was marked with “this side up” and “handle with care”, Henry reported that the crate was often handled roughly and even stored upside down a few times.

But despite all of the trauma, Henry was able to avoid detection, making it to Philadelphia relatively unscathed.

When he emerged from the crate in the office of Passmore Williamson, he said,”How do you do, gentlemen?”, and then proceeded to sing a Bible psalm that he had chosen for his first taste of freedom.

“The Resurrection of Henry Box Brown at Philadelphia”, a lithograph depicting the end of Henry’s journey, by Samuel Rowse. Click to enlarge

Henry went on to play a major role in the abolition movement until the Fugitive Slave Act forced him to flee to England in 1850. While in England, Henry became an entertainer, performing as an illusionist and conjurer, among other mystical and magical acts.

He remarried while in Britain, and returned to the United States in 1875 with a full family magic act. There is no record of Brown’s death, but the last known record of his life comes from a newspaper article dated February 26, 1889 talking about a recent show Brown had put on in Ontario.

Years later, while describing the daring plan that eventually led to his freedom, Henry explained why he was willing to take on such huge risks:

“If you have never been deprived of your liberty, as I was, you cannot realize the power of that hope of freedom, which was to me indeed, an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast.”

A close up of the historical marker in Louisa County, Virginia. Click to enlarge
A close up of the historical marker in Louisa County, Virginia. Click to enlarge

The Fourth of July: A Quick History

The 4th of July was first recognized as a federal holiday back in 1941, but people have been celebrating it since the 18th century.

On June 2, 1776, the Continental Congress met to discuss seceding from England. The Congress was largely put together by Benjamin Franklin, who finally convinced the disunited colonies to form one representative body after the Intolerable Acts were passed by Britain to punish the colonists for the Boston Tea Party.

December 16, 1773: Angry colonists, disguised as native americans, board a British tea ship and dump its cargo overboard to protest the taxes leveed by the Tea Act

The Congress included George Washington, who would eventually command the colonial revolutionary army before becoming the first president, and Patrick Henry, famous for his “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech which inspired Virginian colonists to mobilize against the approaching British forces.

Besides Washington, the Congress also included four other future presidents: John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence.

One of the most iconic Independence Day pictures: Jefferson presents the Declaration to the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776

The Continental Congress actually voted in favor of independence on the 2nd, but it wasn’t until the 4th that all of its delegates adopted Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, which is why we celebrate the birth of America on this day.

The signatures at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence. Click to enlarge

The first 4th of July was quite the spectacle. Though not all the colonists agreed with the decision to break away from England, the ones who did had one heck of a party. The festivities included concerts, parades, bonfires, and the firing of guns and cannons (a pre-cursor to fireworks).

Many colonists even held mock funerals for King George III to represent the end of his tyranny. The Declaration of Independence was also read (multiple times I’m sure) at most of the celebrations.

This painting by John Krimmel from 1819 depicts an early celebration of Independence Day in Philadelphia. It includes a military parade as well as people picnicking, drinking, playing music and even arguing politics

Today, the 4th has become less about the downfall of King George and more about celebrating all the great things we have accomplished as a nation in our relatively short history. The celebrations may not be quite as morbid, but anyone will tell you that they’re just as passionate.

A Few Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the 4th:

John Adams always believed that the true birthday of American independence was July 2, the day that the Continental Congress voted on the issue. He would reportedly turn down invitations to celebrations on the 4th to show his protest.

Also, 3 of our first 5 presidents died on the 4th. Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the first 4th of July celebration. James Monroe, our 5th president, died exactly five years later, on July 4, 1831.

(h/t History Channel)

Lego Asks British Government to Stop Using Their Toys In Anti-Scottish Independence Ads

On September 18th, Scottish citizens will vote in a referendum to decide whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or to break away and become independent.

Though only about a third of the Scottish population is in favor of leaving the UK, the British government has been leading a campaign to discourage voters from choosing independence.

Scottish Prime Minister Alex Salmond, who proposed the separation when he was elected back in 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

A cornerstone of the British government’s pro-unity argument is their claim that staying part of the UK will make the average Scotsman better off by £1,400 UK ($1,900 USD) per year, as compared to if the country were to separate.

To illustrate this point, the British Treasury Department made a BuzzFeed style list of the “12 things that £1,400 UK Dividend could buy”, using legos to illustrate each entry. They have since removed most of the images, but you can check out some of the original entries below:

Unfortunately for  Britain’s PR team, the plan backfired. Many people accused the government of patronizing the Scottish with suggestions like, “Scoff [eat] 280 hot dogs at the Edinburgh Festival,” or, “cover your family’s yearly shoe habit for about the next 6 years”.

On top of that, the Lego company (which is based in Denmark) asked the government to remove the images, saying,

“We have requested that the images are removed due to our neutral political stance. We are a children’s toy company and therefore all of our communication is targeted towards children. People all over the world use Lego to depict stories and scenarios – some of it not to our knowledge. We maintain our position as being a politically neutral company.”

Read more from The Guardian here.

This Day in History… June 6, 1944: D-Day Invasion at Normandy Beach

By the summer of 1944, Hitler was beginning to look unstoppable. After occupying France early on in the war, the Nazi army put in heavy fortifications (2,400 miles of bunkers, landmines and beach and water obstacles) along the shores of France’s coastal Normandy region, which is separated from Britain by only about 25 miles across the English Channel.

So the allied forces decided on a bold and risky strategy to change the tide of the war: invading five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of Normandy. Operation Overlord, as it was known amongst the allies, was orchestrated by General Dwight D. Eisenhower (who would eventually become president after the war).

The Allied invasion routes for D-Day. Click to enlarge
The Allied invasion routes for D-Day. Click to enlarge

Nazi intel had informed Hitler of an impending invasion in France, but he did not know where it would come from. To take advantage of this, the allied forces disseminated false military intel to make Hitler think that the attack would come at Pas-de-Calais (which had the shortest distance to France from Britain).

The allied deception included fraudulent radio transmissions, double agents, and even a phantom army, supposedly commanded by the famous General George Patton, that Hitler believed was stationed just across the water from Pas-de-Calais.

General Eisenhower addressing the troops. Click to enlarge

The day before the invasion, Eisenhower gave a rousing speech to his troops, telling them,

“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.”

Allied troops landing on the beaches of Normandy. Click to enlarge

Despite all of the deception and preparations, the Allied forces were still met with heavy resistance when they landed on the morning of June 6, 1944.

The beaches were honeycombed with bunkers full of machine guns and artillery, and the sand was full of mines, as well as being covered with a grisly assortment of obstacles (seen below) which made moving inland an extremely arduous task.

Click to enlarge

156,000 American, Canadian and British forces attempted to land on the beach. More than 4,000 lost their lives on that first day, including more than 2,000 Americans. The allies were, however, able to successfully secure the beaches by June 11, less than a week later.

Allied troops rush onto the beaches. Click to enlarge

Normandy quickly became a hub for troops and supplies, allowing Allied forces to move quickly through France. By the end of August these forces had liberated Paris and were preparing to enter Germany.

The invasion was also key because it kept Hitler from being able to move troops from France to stop the advancing Russian army in the east.

Sandwiched by the allied forces in the west and Russia in the east, Hitler’s army could only hold out for so long. On May 8, 1945, less than a year after D-Day (and just nine days after Hitler committed suicide), the Allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.

Read more about D-Day from the History Channel here.

What’s In Your Drinking Water? Cocaine and Caffeine, If You’re British

A group of experts from the British Drinking Water Inspectorate recently carried out a series of tests to see what chemical compounds were in British drinking water. Even after intensive purification treatments, the scientists found traces of cocaine.

Specifically, the scientists found benzoylecgonine, which is the form that the compound takes after being metabolized in the body. It’s the same compound that is looked for in urine when testing a person for cocaine use.

Steve Rolles of the Transform think tank

Steve Rolles of the drug policy think tank Transform believes that this finding is reflective of Britain’s rapidly growing drug use. In an interview with the British Sunday Times recently, he said,

“We have the near highest level of cocaine use in western Europe. It has also been getting cheaper and cheaper at the same time as its use has been going up.”

According to the charity DrugScope, England has 170,000 crack cocaine-dependent addicts, and an estimated 700,000 British citizens aged 16-59 use cocaine at least once every year.

Click to enlarge

But cocaine wasn’t the only thing found in the water. The inspectors also found traces of the common painkiller acetaminophen and the epilepsy drug carbamazepine. There were also significantly higher levels of caffeine in the water.

Public Health England recently published a report which assessed the health risks associated with these recent findings. Their report concluded that the levels of cocaine in the water after it was treated were 4 times lower than before treatment, and that the dosage (~4 nanograms/liter) was unlikely to pose a serious threat to public health. The report stated,

“Estimated exposures for most of the detected compounds are at least thousands of times below doses seen to produce adverse effects in animals and hundreds of thousands below human therapeutic doses.”

Click to enlarge

However, little research has been done into whether or not constant, regular exposure to these pharmaceuticals, even in small doses, can cause cumulative effects over time.

Read more from The Independent here.

Why Are American Eggs Illegal In Britain and British Eggs Illegal In America?

It all comes down to the debate over whether or not it’s a good idea to wash eggs before putting them on the shelves. In the United States, USDA standards require that all eggs must be washed before being sold to consumers.

The standards specify that American eggs must be washed with an odorless detergent and water that is at least 90°F and a minimum of 20°F warmer than the internal temperature of the egg. The eggs must then be thoroughly dried.

This last step is where a lot of the controversy arises. A completely dry egg is almost completely impervious to bacteria, but even a thin layer of moisture facilitates the flow of bacteria into the egg.

Eggs being washed

Health officials in Europe are worried that washing eggs may do more harm than good, fearing that the drying process won’t be meticulously carried out every single time.

They also fear the possibility that some eggs could end up soaking in cold sanitizing water that hasn’t been changed out in a while. Cold water causes eggs to contract inwards- this contraction pulls liquid from the shell’s surroundings into its interior. If this liquid happens to be old, cold water, there is a high chance it contains bacteria.

Then there’s a little something known as the cuticle. As a hen is laying an egg, she applies a thin, mucous-like coating to the outside of the shell. It is wet for the first few minutes, but it quickly dries and creates a protective layer that keeps out carbon dioxide and moisture which can spoil and contaminate the egg.

Anatomy of the egg (cuticle is in the SHELL section)

The EU’s egg regulators say that the egg’s natural cuticle provides,

“an effective barrier to bacterial ingress with an array of antimicrobial properties.”

This is one of the main reasons why they oppose the washing of eggs, which often removes part or all of the cuticle layer.

Finally, there’s the issue of refrigeration. In Europe eggs are on non-refrigerated shelves and stay close to room temperature from the time they are collected to the time they are bought and consumed.

This is because when you take a cold, refrigerated egg out into warmer air, moisture in the air condenses on it. According to the EU regulations, this facilitates the growth bacteria both outside and inside the shell.

So why would we refrigerate eggs in the United States? The answer in related to another major difference between American and British eggs: salmonella vaccination.

Salmonella is the main bacterial culprit of contaminated eggs. It can come from feces getting on the egg,  but it can also come from feces getting into the hen’s reproductive tract before the shell even forms. When this happens, the salmonella is inside the egg from jump- no amount of washing can de-contaminate it.

During an outbreak in the late 90s, thousands of people in the UK got salmonella poisoning in a very short period time. Ever since then, British farmers have been vaccinating their hens against salmonella to avoid the costs of being the source of a health crisis. While hen vaccination is not required by law, farmers must do it if they want their eggs certified by Britain’s official Lion Quality Mark.

Today, 90% of all eggs in the UK are from vaccinated hens, and most of the remaining 10% come from small farmers who don’t sell their eggs to retail chains. Reported cases of salmonella poisoning in the UK dropped from 14,771 in 1997 to just 581 in 2009.

Here in the United States, there’s no vaccination requirements. Consequently, we have about 142,000 cases of illness from consuming salmonella-contaminated eggs every year.

So back to refrigeration. A study in the early 90s showed that non-refrigerated eggs didn’t experience any significant salmonella growth in the first 21 days. After that, however, the eggs quickly became contaminated. More research has shown that storing eggs in colder temperatures inhibits the growth of bacteria over a much longer period of time.

So, to keep eggs from our unvaccinated American hens on the shelves longer, we refrigerate them. What do you think?

Read more from Forbes here.