Israeli history photo of the week: Jaffa oranges

By LENNY BEN-DAVID
March 15, 2012 15:50

JPost special feature: A Library of Congress photograph collection that documents pre-state Israel.

1 minute read.



Jaffa orange factory

Jaffa orange factory 370. (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)

The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs, taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian utopians who lived in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the building of Tel Aviv.

Despite the cold winter weather, grocery shoppers in Europe and North America will find fresh fruit and vegetables from Israel on their shelves. And not just the delicious tomatoes and cucumbers. Exotic Israeli agricultural products are also on sale, such as pitayas, cactus fruit, lychees, kiwis, yellow cherry tomatoes, miniature water melons, purple potatoes, star-shaped zucchinis, blue bananas, and many more.

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But the king of the exports is still the Jaffa orange, also known as the Shamouti orange.  The Jaffa orange today also has competition from oranges grown in places like Spain and Morocco.

Arab farmers in Palestine developed this sweet orange in the 1800s and with the arrival of steam ships, the oranges were exported from Jaffa's port, thus the origin of the fruit's name.

Citrus plantations were established by wealthy Arab landholders, and early Zionist farmers also planted citrus groves on the tracts of land they purchased.

The American Colony photographers preserved pictures of the Arab and Jewish groves, the packing, export, and production of orange products.  They also photographed the cooperation of Arab and Jewish workers in the 1930s.

During the Arab revolt (1936-1939), Arab workers closed the Jaffa port with a lengthy strike.  The new Tel Aviv port handled the import of lumber for orange crates and then the export of the oranges themselves.

More photos can be viewed at http://www.israeldailypicture.com

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