Israeli history photo of the week: Orange Season

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

January 26, 2012 11:38
1 minute read.
Jewish farmer pruning an orange tree

Jewish farmer from Rishon Lezion pruning an orange tree 390. (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)


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Despite the wintery weather, grocery shoppers in Europe and North America today 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, a cactus fruit; lychees and kiwis; yellow cherry tomatoes; miniature water melons; purple potatoes; star-shaped zucchinis; blue bananas, and many more.

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.

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 Arab farmers in Palestine developed this sweet orange in the 1800s.

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

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