The war of dates in the world markets..Do Muslims around the world break their fast with the products of the Israeli occupation?

Many Muslims start their breakfast in the holy month with dates, and some of them may prefer the "Medjool" or "Medjool" dates, which are distinguished by their taste and quality, and some may prefer other types such as "Degla Nour", or Al-Amiri, or Al-Zahidi Al-Asfar, and other distinguished types. And everyone eats reassured that the source of these dates are the countries to which the origins of these items belong, but the truth is that the source of these items is sometimes the Israeli occupation state, which sells its dates today in all parts of the world today.

The occupying state has practiced its attacks on date farmers in Palestine since the first palm tree was planted in their lands after the Israeli occupation, and this war has extended to the global market. The Holy Land with the use of the Dome of the Rock logo, but what is worse is the policy of what is known as “date-whitening”, as the occupation lures some Palestinian merchants to buy “Israeli” dates, and then repackage them as Palestinian products.

A history of counterfeiting "dates"

In September 2020, a group of Israeli researchers chose a hilltop overlooking the Old City in the "Abu Tor" neighborhood of occupied Jerusalem to celebrate an alleged scientific achievement that they had achieved at that time. The researchers performed a Jewish prayer recited on important occasions, while in front of them a bundle of dates was the subject of the ceremony. These dates were sprouted, according to Israeli allegations, from extinct seeds that are more than two thousand years old, meaning that they date back to between the fourth and second centuries BC, as they claim. The choice of the place was not absurd, as this area, which the Israelis consider archaeological, was being prepared for the establishment of investment tourism projects, which makes its condition similar to that of the palm trees that were destroyed centuries ago and returned to life.

The researchers named one of the seeds "Methuselah," which was among dozens of seeds discovered further north along the Dead Sea. The discovery of dates came as part of an Israeli project to revive ancient types of palm trees from seeds found in archaeological excavations in the region. The researchers said that the dry conditions helped the seeds survive for two thousand years without losing their ability to grow in that desert. To bring old palms back to life.

The Israelis also claim that the cultivation of dates in the Levant (or ancient Judea as they call it) was well established by about 300 BC, but the efforts of their modern state in its cultivation date back to the year 1930 (that is, before the official establishment of the occupying state by about two decades), when one of the founders of the settlement traveled Kinneret, one of the first Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, known as the "Israeli Ben Zion" to a number of Middle Eastern countries, illegally collected palm tree samples. The countries he visited imposed restrictions to prevent the export of these trees on the grounds that they are a national treasure, but Ben Zion was able to collect many seeds and returned them to occupied Palestine, and relied on them to establish large farms for the famous "Medjool" and "Degla Noor" dates that he came to With its seeds from Morocco and Iraq.

Before the occupation of the Palestinian West Bank in 1967, the dates grown there had their origins in the time of the Ottomans. After the occupation, Israel restricted Palestinian palm cultivation, besieged it, and harassed farmers. Instead, it spread palm farms in its illegal settlements scattered along the road to Wadi Araba and the Jordan Valley, and with it the occupying state invaded the global date market, where it became possible to buy these dates on all continents of the world. Among the varieties planted by the Israelis on the farms, which have been modernized and expanded since the past decade and included hundreds of acres of palm trees, are Medjool dates, those dates that have their origins in Morocco and moved from them to the Palestinian territories via California.

This variety is considered the king of dates all over the world and is the most popular and popular type, as its grain is a wrinkled black seed without air, and its color is similar to chocolate, and it does not contain much fiber. The occupying state claims that it is now the main source for exporting this type, according to figures published in 2016 by the so-called "dates office" of the Israeli Plant Production and Marketing Council, as it said that Israel produces about 75% of the total global production of Medjool dates. Medjool dates also achieve record revenues for the occupying state thanks to the abundant quantity produced by each palm tree of this type. In one season, the Medjool tree produces approximately 150-200 kilograms of dates.

"Bleaching dates"… a setback at the hands of Palestinians

In 1994, " Ibrahim Daiq " grabbed the title of the first Palestinian farmer to establish an integrated farm for palm trees, and that was in the city of Jericho, of which palm occupies 50% of its area. To this day, Daiq is proud of his steadfastness in the face of the Israeli occupation attacks that affect him. Sometimes by confiscating land owned by his family for the benefit of the settlements (86% of Jericho’s farms are either confiscated by the occupation or threatened with confiscation), and sometimes by preventing the sale of palm seedlings to him and the Palestinian farmers (whoever tries to sell them from the inside Palestinians will be subject to military trial), and at other times by preventing him from water and digging wells. control of tree pollen, pesticides, fertilizers, and more.

Behind the scenes, Daiq and other Palestinian farmers are living through another, more severe and bitter suffering, in which their compatriots are involved. Those who stand behind a phenomenon called “date whitening”, which means that Palestinian companies conclude agreements with Israeli companies in order to market settlement products from dates at the expense of the Palestinian dates they produce. Daiq and others. They sell certain quantities of the Palestinian product to Israeli companies within cooperation or partnership agreements, with the aim of covering up other quantities of settlement dates being marketed alongside the Palestinian product.

Palestinian Law No. 4 of 2010 prohibits anyone from trading settlement products and services, and prohibits anyone from providing a good or service to settlements.” (Getty Images)

What is happening, then, is that Palestinian factories bring Israeli dates, which are grown and produced in the settlements, in order to package them in Palestinian factories in the Jordan Valley or in Jericho, then market them after wrapping them with stickers bearing Arabic names instead of Hebrew and transporting them to the markets as Palestinian dates. This happens especially in Area C, which is under the security control of the Israeli occupation state in the West Bank, according to the Oslo Accords.

This happens despite the existence of a Palestinian law that criminalizes dealing with Israeli settlements in any form, as Law No. 4 of 2010 regarding the prohibition and control of settlement products states that “all settlement products are illegal goods, and they are determined according to a list issued by a decision of the Council, and it is prohibited to Any person who trades in settlement products and services, and it is prohibited for anyone to provide a good or service to the settlements.” While the first clause of Article No. 14 of the same law stipulates “imprisonment for a period of no less than two years and no more than five years, and a fine of no less than ten thousand Jordanian dinars or its equivalent in the currency in legal circulation, or one of these two penalties, for anyone who trades settlement products.” And everyone who participated in or contributed to its circulation or supplied goods or services to the settlements.

In November 2021, the Palestinian Authority bowed to local pressure calling for an end to the blanching of dates. The Anti-Corruption Prosecution and the Economic Crimes Prosecution in Ramallah arrested six people, including two ministers, in connection with the issue of marketing settlement dates as being of Palestinian origin. The case revealed that they manage 60% of the volume of dates trade in Palestine, as charges and suspicions of corruption related to promoting settlement goods locally and globally were leveled against them. However, to this day, no one has been clearly punished, and the phenomenon has not stopped. While the authority announces that it is playing its role in holding those involved accountable, whatever their positions, these individuals and companies continue smuggling dates without any regard for the damage to the Palestinian farmer or the national cause.

"War of Dates" in the global market

When Israeli farmers said they were treated like "leprosy" at the annual fruit fair Fruit Logistica in Berlin in February 2016, it was only a few years since the first boycotts of settlement dates. However, in subsequent years, they were able to develop new markets for their date products, such as India, Australia and the east coast of the United States, as well as prepare to face the boycott campaigns that are being renewed to this day.

These campaigns usually coincide with the start of the holy month of Ramadan, in which dates are naturally very popular, as stores in Britain, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Italy are filled with Israeli dates, about 60% of which are produced in illegal settlements in the West Bank, and 50% reaches Europe. What the occupying country produces from those dates. In Britain, the second largest importer of Israeli dates in Europe, more than 20,000 leaflets were distributed in mosques at the start of the current Ramadan urging Muslims to boycott Israeli dates. This came as part of the "Check the Label" campaign , which the Al-Aqsa Friends Organization has been promoting in the country since early 2010. The organization called for avoiding breakfast "with the taste of apartheid", and urged Muslims in Europe to read fruit labels carefully and stay away from food. Israeli dates in Ramadan.

The matter did not stop at Britain alone. In the United States, the “Muslims of America for Palestine” organization called on the Arab and Palestinian communities not to deal with Israeli dates that are sold in the American markets and marketed as Palestinian products, and noted the names and trademarks of some Israeli companies located in American markets, such as "Jordan River", "Sincerly Nets", "Urban Platers" and others. In its annually renewed campaign, the organization confirmed that the boycott is very effective, as the US market share of Israeli date imports decreased, according to the organization's assurances. France was also present in the campaigns to boycott Israeli dates, as associations in solidarity with the Palestinian people are active in urging a boycott of Israeli goods coming from the occupied territories. It should be noted that the European Court of Justice issued a decision in 2019 that EU countries must identify products made in Israeli settlements on their labels, in order not to mislead consumers about the fact that Israel “is present in the respective territories as an occupying power and not as a sovereign entity.” .

Meanwhile, the occupying power is working within a systematic plan to weaken the Palestinian date cultivation and production sector, which has become one of the most promising investments in the Jericho region and the Jordan Valley. There are between 250-350 thousand palm trees whose production is expected to reach 25 thousand tons, of which the local market consumes 6 thousand tons, and the rest is exported to about 26 international markets. Here, we can review the means of the occupation to undermine this sector, the first of which revolves around the Palestinian territories, as the occupation is not satisfied with disrupting palm cultivation by confiscating lands and preventing the use of water for irrigation, but rather the occupation competes with the Palestinian product in its local market by offering the Israeli product as a substitute for the Palestinian one through fake companies As we mentioned. Meanwhile, a kilo of smuggled dates is sold for seven shekels, while a kilo of Palestinian dates is sold for 12 shekels ($3.2), which means that the simple citizen automatically resorts to buying the cheapest product, and then the Palestinian farmer suffers a huge loss.

Even in foreign markets, Palestinian producers who depend for their income on selling dates and exporting them abroad suffer, and their suffering is mainly due to the restrictions on the crossings controlled by the occupation, which sometimes prevented the export of dates altogether. The occupation imposes strict inspection procedures and restrictions that negatively affect the ability of Palestinian dates to compete in the global market. The occupation has even caused the cost of shipping and exporting Palestinian dates to be double that of dates produced in Israeli settlements.

On a larger scale, Israeli companies are fighting vigorously for a larger share at the expense of Palestinian companies. Not only is this using Palestinian certificates of origin to bypass the boycott issue, but it goes as far as selling settlement dates of poor quality as being of Palestinian origin, thus tarnishing the reputation of the dates. For example, there is a quota offered by Turkey in support of the Palestinian product of dates, as the Turkish parliament decided to exempt a proportion of Palestinian dates from customs in order to be able to compete. However, the quota quickly penetrated into dates from non-Palestinian sources by forging Palestinian certificates of origin thanks to the date-whitening activities. . The Palestinian businessman, Samir Hulileh, told the Palestinian website "Watan" that most of the Turkish quota quickly became the share of non-Palestinian sources since the 2019 season, and that the issue of falsifying certificates of origin is the critical issue now in the Turkish quota file.

In the end, it can be said that the success of boycott efforts and making them feasible and effective rests with the Palestinian citizen himself at home first, and with Arabs and Muslims around the world later, especially with the intensification of boycott campaign efforts and the disclosure of the brands under which dates are sold. Israeli. The vigilance of supporters of the Palestinian cause remains necessary in order to besiege the illegal dates of the occupation, through awareness of the renewed and continuous Israeli methods to circumvent boycott campaigns and market the products of the occupying state in global markets.

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