The Third Reason to Keep the Jordan Valley
By Baruch Gordon
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At the current round of diplomatic talks, Israel is under pressure to give the Jordan Valley to the Arabs and rely on international forces to guarantee her security. The Jordan Valley constitutes Israel’s eastern border and serves as a buffer zone between the Jewish State and Jordan.
The Bkaot Road in Jordan Valley
Why not give up the Jordan Valley for peace?
Reason #1– It’s ours
The first reason to keep the Jordan Valley is because it’s ours – period. No indigenous people ever ruled over this region except for the Jews.
The second reason to keep the Jordan Valley is explained beautifully and briefly in this recently-released youtube video. As the video below shows (a must watch), every time Israel has relied on int’l peacekeeping forces to guarantee her security, they flee like kindergarten children running from a monster costume when the first shots are fired.
Reason Three – an Israeli success story
The third reason to keep the Jordan Valley is that Jewish pioneers invested blood, sweat and tears to make this desert region blossom after we got it back in the 6-Day War. The story of their success is as unknown as it is remarkable. A few highlights are listed below.
After the 1967 6-Day War, settlement bodies from every political perspective settled the Jordan Valley: The Moshav Movement, Takam, Poel Mizrachi, Ichud Haklai, Herut, Beitar and others. Everyone agreed that the Jordan Valley must remain Israeli.
The difficult climate is not conducive to conventional agricultural methods. My son studied at an agricultural yeshiva high school in the Jordan Valley and said that no farmer works in the fields from 11:00am to 3:00pm - the heat is unbearable.
Can’t beat the heat? Join it!
Instead of fighting the heat, the Jews who came to tackle this region turned the challenging conditions to their own financial benefit to the point that 30% of Jewish households in the Jordan Valley sustain themselves on agriculture and another 30% supply agriculture-related services such as packing houses, refrigeration, transport, office services etc.
How did they do it?
By the early 1970’s, farming techniques were developed in the Jordan Valley that are today amongst the most advanced in the world.
The high temperatures yield early ripening in the spring, and late ripening in autumn. So, when various fruits and vegetables are out of season and demand is high, the Jordan Valley continues its supply allowing for strong financial gains.
Furthermore, the Jewish farmers of the Jordan Valley discovered that –
- the strong sun radiation favorably affects the fruits and vegetables and encourages their growth.
- the below average rainfall and moisture contribute to low infestation resulting in high quality crops.
Today, the Jordan Valley is the world leader in several products. The Majdhul (aka Medjoul) species of dates, known for its size and richness, is grown in the Jordan Valley and is the most sought after date in export markets. A whopping 80% of the yearly harvest is exported.
The “Early Sweet Grape” is a seedless, creamy white grape with an exceptionally long shelf life. The very high sugar level of 14-18 brix gives this grape a sweet flavor with a hint of muscat and an extremely high juice level. This grape was developed in Jordan Valley Research & Development facilities and quickly conquered the export market, pushing aside all other species. Jordan Valley grapes constitute half (!) of the grapes exported from Israel today. The technique of growing these grapes under netting, unique to the Early Sweet variety, was developed by crop supervisors and R&D in the Jordan Valley.
Early Sweet Grapes in the Jordan Valley
The major vegetable grown in the Jordan Valley is peppers. Farmers are planting more acres of peppers every year, yielding a variety of brands and colors. The pepper is grown for export 8 months per year (from November to June) and is grown for local consumption in the summer and fall.
Herbs and Spices- The major herbs grown in the Jordan Valley are basil, arugula, spearmint, tarragon and chives. They comprise 40% of Israel's yearly export. Local experts developed methods to cultivate the herbs even in the intense summer heat, enabling the herbs to be grown all year round. As a result Israeli herb produce is the only one in the world to be marketed all year round. The growers have to meet the stringent standards of the export agencies, with a stress upon completely bug-free crops, controlled usage of chemicals and strict requirements for packing houses and refrigeration.
Other agricultural crops include cherry tomatoes, eggplants, flowers, citrus fruits, olives, and pomegranates.
Successive dovish labor governments of the late 60’s and 70’s sent their finest pioneers to struggle for survival in the Jordan Valley against all odds. They succeeded beyond all expectations. It would be wholesale betrayal of these pioneers and a stinging slap in the face to deport them from their homes and bulldoze their decades of accomplishments.
Jordan Valley- Looking East
Let us embrace the Jordan Valley for its beauty and splendor and salute the pioneers who made this region the success that it is today.