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January 28, 2015

Where's the Coverage? Israeli Program Educates and Supports Palestinian Farmers

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Earlier this month, The Jerusalem Post reported:

A group of 30 Palestinian farmers […] came to Israel for a two-day continuing education program in the Sharon region, to learn about some of the strawberry-growing methods used in Israel. The group, predominantly from the Tulkarm and Jenin areas, met with farmers developing commercial seedlings and others experimenting on new growth techniques – both employing hanging systems and traditional in-ground planting methods.

“I came to study new things today,” said Abed al-Salam, who is from a village near Tulkarm, where he grows both strawberries and vegetables.

The tour was organized by Israel’s Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, the principle facilitator for similar such collaborative ventures between Israeli and Palestinian farmers.

Nasser Bsharat, from Al-Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley, stressed how much there is to learn about the different types of strawberries that can be grown – pointing out that there are 42 different types being cultivated at their first stop of the day, the Romano Strawberry Nursery.

The nursery, sandwiched between Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak and the Neveh Hadassah Youth Village in the Hof Hasharon Regional Council area, develops and markets strawberry seedlings to growers.

Bsharat said the farmers are keen to learn new techniques for growing strawberries both within greenhouses and in fields, as well as disease-prevention mechanisms.

Stressing not only the importance of cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian farmers, but also the routine nature of such relationships, Bsharat said the Jiftlik community lives “as neighbors” with the residents of the nearby Masu’a settlement.

“If I have any problem [with my farm], I ask my neighbors,” he said.

Well, this is certainly not the image of Israeli-Palestinian interaction promoted by most of the mainstream news media. How does this square with the apartheid narrative? How does this fit with the story of Israeli “settlers” persecuting Palestinian Arabs? It doesn’t. Better not report it then. And the popular press does not. Not a peep about any of the cooperation and positive contact.

Not a word about what The Jerusalem Post reported:

Cooperation on the agricultural level is longstanding between West Bank Palestinians and Israelis, with some 10 study-tour groups – about 1,200 farmers – coming to Israel each year, according to [Samir] Moaddi [the agricultural staff officer of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria]. Already at the end of January, he will be accompanying a group of 50 Palestinians to the Arava Open Day agricultural exposition at the Yair Research and Development Center in Hatzeva.

“The Palestinian population is hungry for knowledge,” Moaddi said.

About 60 percent of West Bank Palestinian produce is sold to the Israeli market each year, while some 200,000 tons of Israeli produce is sold in the opposite direction, Moaddi said.

This kind of economic cooperation and productive educational exchange just doesn’t match the storyline that Israelis oppress Palestinians at every turn. Therefore, rest assured you won’t be reading about it and we’ll have to ask… Where’s the coverage?

Posted by SC at January 28, 2015 05:43 PM

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