Source: Survey of Palestine,
prepared by the British Mandate for the United Nations, p. 323-327
* Value in Palestinian Pound
** Non-citrus fruits. Note Citrus production=248,274 dunums of which 120,897 dunums were Jewish owned (Supplement to Survey of Palestine, p. 37)
*** One Dunum = 1,000 sq. meters.
Click here to view the exact scanned pages from Survey of Palestine that we extracted the data was from.
Let's contemplate the following lands statistics about Palestine (based on CIA's WorldFact Book) before we draw any conclusions.
|Total land||26,000.0 sq. km. = 20,000 (Israel) + 6,000 (W. Bank & Gaza Strip)|
|Arable land||4,420.0 sq. km. = 17% * 26,000 sq. km.|
|Lands planted by Jews||425.4 sq. km. = 425,455 /1000|
|Lands planted by Palestinians||5,484.7 sq. km. = 5,484,700 /1000|
It should be emphasized that Jews owned under 7% of Palestine of which only 44% was used for agricultural purposes by Jews (click here to see the exact scanned page from Survey of Palestine p. 376). In this regards, we ask the reader how could this myth be true if Jews cultivated under 3% of Palestine?
Soon after Nakba, the victorious Jews destroyed most of the usurped Palestinian farms and groves, especially olive and orange groves that required extensive labor to maintain and harvest. In this regards, it is worth quoting the Israeli Zionist writer Meron Benvenisti who described the Palestinian landscape soon after Nakba as follows:
"The destruction of hundreds of thousands of dunums of fruit-bearing trees does not fit Israel's self-image as a society that knows how to make the desert bloom. And the contention that the green Arab landscape had been destroyed because of necessity of adopting the crops to the agricultural practices of the Jews only underscores the conclusion it was not the war that had caused this devastation, but rather the disappearance of the specific human community that had shaped the landscape in accordance with its needs and preferences. The destruction of vast areas of orchards did not attract the same degree of interests as had the demolition of the Arab villages, despite the fact that it perhaps had more devastating effect on the landscape." (Sacred Landscape, p. 165) Click here to read more about this subject.
Let's analyze this concocted myth from another angle by comparing the current Israeli and Lebanese agricultural production. Based CIA's online Worldfact Book, we have collected the following data for year 2006:
|Total land||20,330 sq. km.||10,230 sq. km.|
|Arable land||3,140 sq km = 15.45% * 20,330 sq. km.||1,672 sq. km. = 16.35% * 10,230 sq. km.|
|Irrigated land||1,940 sq. km. (2003)||1,040 sq. km. (2003)|
|Population||6.4 million||3.93 million|
|Total GDP||$140.3 billion (2006 est.)||$19.89 billion (2006 est.)|
|Agriculture production||$3.64 billion = 2.6% of GDP||$1.39 billion = 7% of GDP|
|Labor force working in agriculture||2.6% of 2.42 million = 62,920||N/A|
- The great majority of Israel's Jewish population are urban dwellers, who are mostly concentrated in and around the cities of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, Jerusalem, and Haifa; which explains why only 2.6% of the Israeli work force work in agriculture. It may surprise the reader that Israel has the highest rate of urban dwellers of any industrial country, click here for graph illustration.
- Agriculture in Israel has been always heavily subsidized by the Israeli government, otherwise, Lebanon's agricultural production would have been much larger than 1.39 billion.
- Israel has been investing billions of dollars, mostly financed by U.S. taxpayers, to divert fresh waters from the Jordan River and Tiberias Lake. On the other hand, Lebanon has no such fortune where all its fresh water makes it to the sea without any effort to retain it.
- The Lebanese infrastructure was devastated during the 1982-2000 Israeli occupation and its civil war. And if it wasn't for this devastation, Lebanon's agricultural production would have been much larger than $1.39 per year.
In other words, since the Lebanese and Palestinian societies were very similar in many areas, then it's easy to conclude that Palestinians would have produced as much as the Lebanese if it wasn't for their dispossession by the Israelis.
"We abroad are used to believe the Eretz Yisrael is now almost totally desolate, a desert that is not sowed ..... But in truth that is not the case. Throughout the country it is difficult to find fields that are not sowed. Only sand dunes and stony mountains .... are not cultivated." (Righteous Victims, p. 42)
For the moment, let's assume that the baseless myth is true, the questions that many Palestinians ask are:
Even if it was "true" that Jews made Palestine's desert bloom, does that legitimize the outright theft of the Palestinian people's homes, farms, businesses, banks, cars, buses, schools, ... etc.? Does that justify the expulsion of the indigenous population to make way for the newly arrived European Jewish refugees? It should be noted that Palestinians owned and operated over 93% of Palestine's lands as of 1945, click here for a map illustration. In November 1947, the architect of the "transfer solution", Yosef Weitz, stated that the collective DISPOSSESSION
of the Palestinian people was an inevitable outcome because of the high rate of land ownership among Palestinians. He stated:
"[most of the land] not Jewish-owned or even in the category of the state domain whose ownership could be automatically assumed by a successor government. Thus, of 13,500,000 dunums (6,000,000 of which were desert and 7,500,000 dunums of cultivatable land) in the Jewish state according to the Partition plan, only 1,500,000 dunums were Jewish owned." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 182)
- Could one legitimize the outright theft of the American New Yorkers' homes, cars, banks, schools, ... etc. since American Jews are the ones who converted New York City into the Worlds' financial and industrial metropolis? It's not only that Jewish Americans are the largest minority in New York City, they practically built it from ground up. In other words, if such an argument logically justifies dispossessing and ethnically cleansing the Palestinian people, why isn't it a good argument for collectively dispossessing and ethnically cleansing the American non-Jewish population in New York City?
This baseless myth, although an outright lie, attempts to paint a romantic vision for the "Promised Land" i.e. that it was destitute for 2,000 years until the "returning Jews" made its desert "bloom". It is sad to see how far this myth has been propagated in the Israeli school system and society in order to legitimize the continued collective dispossession of the Palestinian people.