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A watermelon field near Zichron Ya'acov
photo by Rhonda Spivak


a view of the coast of Israel from the hills of Zichron Ya'acov
photo by Rhonda Spivak


My painting of eating watermelon in Israel
painting by Rhonda Spivak


a view of beautiful Zichron Ya'acov
photo by Rhonda Spivak

 
Editor's Report from Israel: Could Watermelon End the Wars Between Israel and Hamas?

by Rhonda Spivak, posted Aug 28, 2016

 

 
 
Editors Report from Israel: Could Watermelon End the Wars Between Israel and Hamas?
 
On the way to Zichron Yaacov  from Netanya this July, not far past the Alexander River I noticed the beautiful site of a field of watermelons growing in the sunshine, and as we passed by I thought of the years when I would sing to my children the song "Down by the Bay where the Watermelons Grow." 
 
On the way we passed by the  mouth of the Alexander River (Nachal Alexander),  where  now Israelis bike and picnic.. For the first time, I learned that the Alexander River  was named after an Arab watermelon merchant Aixander Abu Zbura who became wealthy by exporting watermelons from this area to Egypt and Lebanon . 
  
I also learned that watermelon has been a symbol of Palestinian nationalism. Apparently, after the Six day War  in 1967, when  Israel banned the display of the PLO flag, in the West Bank and Gaza, young  Palestinian militants sliced watermelons in half and waved them around they contained  the fruit and rind contained  red, green , black and white, the Palestinian national colours.
 
Strangely enough, this year, even though Hamas's Gaza is a sworn enemy of Israel committed to its destruction, Hamas actually imported Israeli watermelons.
 
On June 22, a few days before I arrived, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in the Gaza Strip  surprisingly approved the transfer of Israeli watermelons into Gaza in an attempt to decrease local prices which were driven up by limited supplies.

 

The Maan News Agency reported that the the General Director of marketing and crossings Tahsin al-Saqqa said the watermelon entered Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing ending an eight-year ban.

 

It's interesting to note that seventeen former Jewish settlements in Gaza (from which Israel unilaterally withdrew in 2005)  are now being used by Palestinian watermelon growers to grow the delicious fruit, according to the Electric Intifada. (https://electronicintifada.net/content/gaza-farmers-grow-watermelon-former-israeli-settlements/13462). 

 

This year there was a shortage of areas cultivated for watermelons in Gaza , which resulted in reduced crops pushing up prices in the local Gazan  market.

 

According to Al Monitor, areas cultivated for watermelon in Gaza shrunk from 4,500 acres to 3,500 acres, given a shortage of irrigation water.
 http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/07/palestine-gaza-import-watermelon-lower-prices-ban-1.html#ixzz4G75BcjHG

 

Alas, the importing of  Israeli watermelon by  Gaza was short-lived, lasting only three days.

 

On June 26, the Gazan ministry declared on its Facebook page that the  deal with Israel had been canceled, after an agreement by Gazan farmers to sell their watermelons for cheaper.

 

And so it was that for a brief 3-4 days,  it appeared that Hamas realized that providing watermelon for its people, was more important than demonizing Israel.

 

And it has made me wonder what would happen next year if Gaza could not produce enough watermelons. Would it mean that  the chance of a war next summer would decrease,? Could peace one day be negotiated through the eating of  watermelon ? 

 

But Israel isn't counting on watermelon for its security.  As Ynet news has reported, Israel has invested in a new concrete barrier underground to stop Gaza terror tunnels

  

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.