Orange, Palestinian’s treasure

This article is also available in: Italiano

May 15 is celebrated throughout the Nakba, “the Disaster”, a day on which thousands of Palestinians were forced to abandon their lands and flee into exile. Although late, we wanted to celebrate this date, unfortunately historic for the Arab / Islamic world, with the fruit that most of all represents this conflict: oranges, especially those of Jaffa.

Between East and West

The “orange fruit” does not originate in nature, but was the result of the union of mandarin and pommel, 2 trees that have always been very popular in China and Southeast Asia and which soon spread to neighboring India. It was here, in fact, that the plant took its first name, or नारङ्ग nāraṅga, a Sanskrit word which means precisely “orange tree”. From this term also derives the Persian term نارنگ nārang, then used in Arabic to indicate the sweet orange.


The impact of the Islamic empire on this fruit was very strong and pushed an increasingly massive condition throughout the Mediterranean Sea, with Palermo becoming one of the most important cities ever for this production. Due to the conflicts between Arabs and Europeans, however, its use and spread remained limited especially to the Muslim world, so much so that it was the Portuguese who made it famous in Europe. Not surprisingly, many countries in the world call this fruit with the name “portokal”, a clear reference to those who reintroduced it to the Old Continent. Detail that, just to be able to use them constantly, the “winter gardens” were created, which in many countries take the name of “orangery”.

The occupied orange

Among the many variations, one in particular has become a symbol of the longest conflict of the entire 1900s: the orange of Jaffa.


For centuries it was the main production of Palestine, guaranteeing a constant source of sustenance and income for its inhabitants. With the arrival of the Zionists, however, the situation changed in a very short time, transforming the business from Arab to Jewish. The new and innovative techniques brought by the new arrivals, in fact, guaranteed a clearly superior quality and harvest, which immediately took away the possibility of the Palestinians to compete in the global market. This turned such a beautiful fruit into a constant memory of the Israeli occupation, taking away the joy of these flavors from the Palestinians. Particularly significant is also the title of a work by Ghassan Kanafani, one of the greatest Palestinian intellectuals ever: “The land of sad oranges”. When fruit also participates in the conflict.

All the photos were taken from this tweet, we wanted to bring you real Jaffa oranges.

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