Who Made The Desert Bloom?

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Palestine's agricultural produce 1944-45 (~£2.2 billion today)

via Lawrence of Cyberia:

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.

According to the Survey of Palestine…

Who 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
  • >99% of its tobacco
  • 60% of its bananas

Palestine’s agricultural produce at that time had an annual value of approximately 21.8 million pounds sterling (~£2.2 billion today); 17.1 million of which was produced by Arab cultivation, and 4.7 million by Jewish cultivation.

So, who made the desert bloom?

The Palestinians made the desert bloom.

Photos: All the photographs are from Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History Of The Palestinians 1876 – 1948, by Walid Khalidi.

You can view some of the book with Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature…



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