Recently Shimon Peres, the President of Israel, said the following in a press interview.
“I remember how it all began. The whole state of Israel is a millimeter of the whole Middle East. A statistical error, barren and disappointing land, swamps in the north, desert in the south, two lakes, one dead and an overrated river. No natural resource apart from malaria. There was nothing here. And we now have the best agriculture in the world? This is a miracle: a land built by people” (Maariv, 14 April 2013).
It is just not true that Palestine was a ‘barren’ land before the Zionists came. During the Ottoman period Palestine exported soap, sugar, barley, oranges, and cotton throughout the empire. The latter part of the 19th century saw a large increase in citrus production, especially the Jaffa orange. This was a new variety developed by Arab farmers after emerging in the mid-19th century as a mutation on a tree of the Baladi variety near Jaffa. Exports grew from 200,000 oranges in 1845 to 38 million oranges by 1870, including to Europe. The citrus plantations of this time were primarily owned by wealthy Arab merchants and notables, rather than small farmers, as the fruits required large capital investments with no yield for several years. An 1872 account of Jaffa by a European traveler notes that, “Surrounding Jaffa are the orange gardens for which it is justly extolled, and which are a considerable source of wealth to the owners.”
I do not intend to downplay the contribution made by the incoming Jews to the development of Palestine, not least to the Jaffa orange industry. They brought capital and modern agricultural techniques. But they should admit that this was done in partnership with the Arab farmers on the basis of the farmers’ existing achievements. It should be noted that Jaffa, the port from which the oranges were exported, was an Arab town during the Mandate, and in the UN Partition Plan of 1947 was intended to be an enclave of the Arab state within the boundaries of the Jewish state.
[Source: Wikipedia page 'Jaffa Orange'.]
The attempt by Peres to propagate the Zionist myth that they came to an empty and barren land is designed to deny the existence of the Palestinian people and their right to determination within their own land of Palestine. It is a metaphorical genocide.
The following is an extract from the fascinating book Remembering and Imagining Palestine by Haim Gerber.
Towards the end of the century the pace of change grew fast and furious. The security of property and safety on the roads was enhanced at an unprecedented rate; economic activity accordingly speeded up and intensified. Economic relations with the West surged, in three areas especially. Large quantities of wheat from the Hawran were exported through Acre port; the large-scale and rapidly growing export of Jaffa oranges caused a major development of the town. Jaffa entrepreneurs, most of them Muslim Arabs, expanded their orange groves at a rapid pace, but not fast enough to meet European demand. A bottle-neck was water, of which not enough was for available irrigation. Undaunted, they advanced to the then cutting-edge of technology of raising water from wells by motor-pumps imported from Europe. It was indeed a mini-scale industrial revolution, defying endless mystifications about the mismatch between Islam and entrepreneurship. Finally barley was exported on a large scale from Gaza to the breweries of England.
Peres is an educated man. He must know the true history of Palestine. The “empty and barren land” is a despicable lie.
Short link: religion-science-peace.org/?p=452