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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

israel’s “making the deserts bloom” myth

In December 1945 and January 1946, the British Mandate authorities carried out an extensive survey of Palestine, in support of the work of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine. The results were published in the Survey of Palestine, which has been scanned and made available online by Palestine Remembered; all 1300 pages can be read here.
One of the subjects investigated in the Survey of Palestine is land use; specifically, which crops were Palestine’s leading agricultural products at the end of the British Mandate, and whose farms were producing them.
So, according to the Survey of Palestine, who really made the barley fields of Beersheba bloom?
Palestine grain harvest
The British government survey found that in 1944-45 Palestine’s farmers produced approximately 210,000 tons of grain.
About 193,400 tons of that grain were cultivated on Palestinian farms; about 16,600 tons were cultivated on Jewish farms.
See the precise numbers, from a scan of the relevant page of the Survey of Palestinehere.
Who made the melon patches of Jaffa bloom?
Palestine melon harvest
The British government survey found that in 1944-45 Palestine’s farmers produced approximately 143,000 tons of melons.
About 136,000 tons of those melons were cultivated on Palestinian farms; a little over 7,000 tons were cultivated on Jewish farms.
See the precise numbers, from a scan of the relevant page of the Survey of Palestinehere.
Who made the tobacco fields of Safad bloom?
Palestine tobacco field
The British government survey found that in 1944-45 Palestine’s farmers produced approximately 1,683 tons of tobacco, on 28,169 dunams of land. Virtually all the land under tobacco cultivation was Palestinian.
Who made the vineyards of Hebron bloom?
Palestine vineyard
The British government survey found that in 1944-45 Palestine’s farmers produced approximately 40-50,000 tons of grapes, and between 3-4 million litres of wine. About 86% of the land that produced these products was owned and cultivated by Palestinians.
See a scan of the relevant page of the Survey of Palestine here.
Who made the olive groves of Tulkarm bloom?
Palestine olive harvest
The British government survey found that in 1944-45 Palestine’s farmers produced approximately 79,000 tons of olives.
About 78,000 tons of those olives were cultivated on Palestinian farms; a little over 1,000 tons were cultivated on Jewish farms.
See the precise numbers, from a scan of the relevant page of the Survey of Palestinehere and here.
Who made the banana groves of Tiberias bloom?
Palestine banana grove
The British government survey found that in 1944-45 Palestine’s farmers produced approximately 8,000 tons of bananas.
About 60% of the land that produced these bananas was owned and cultivated by Palestinians.
See the relevant page of the Survey of Palestinehere.
Who made the vegetable fields of the coastal plain bloom?
Palestine vegetable harvest
The British government survey found that in 1944-45 Palestine’s farmers produced approximately 245,000 tons of vegetables.
About 189,000 tons of those vegetables were cultivated by Palestinian farmers; about 56,000 tons were cultivated by Jewish farmers.
See the precise numbers, from a scan of the relevant page of the Survey of Palestinehere.
So, on the eve of the partition resolution, in which the United Nations proposed to allocate 55 percent of the land to Jewish Palestine (including those parts that produced most of Palestine’s leading crops, with the sole exception of the olive crop), and 45% to Arab Palestine, Palestinian Arabs were producing:
92% of Palestine’s grain
86% of its grapes
99% of its olives
77 % of its vegetables
95% of its melons
more than 99% of its tobacco
and 60% of its bananas.
Palestine’s agricultural produce at that time had an annual value of approximately 21.8 million pounds sterling; 17.1 million of which was produced by Arab cultivation, and 4.7 million by Jewish cultivation. (See the exact numbers here).
So, who made the desert bloom? The Palestinians made the desert bloom.
Photos: All the photographs of Palestinian farmers cultivating their crops in Palestine under the British Mandate are from Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History Of The Palestinians 1876 – 1948, by Walid Khalidi.

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