closeicon

Palestinians made the desert bloom before the Israelis got there

November 24, 2016 22:57

Who Made The Desert Bloom?

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?

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 Palestine, here.

Who made the melon patches of Jaffa bloom?

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 Palestine, here.

Who made the tobacco fields of Safad bloom?

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?

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?

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 Palestine, here and here.

Who made the banana groves of Tiberias bloom?

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 Palestine, here.

Who made the vegetable fields of the coastal plain bloom?

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 Palestine, here.

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.

November 24, 2016 22:57

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive