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Double Life – Orange Juice

fubiniBy Daniela Fubini*

The gates of hell have been kicked open again, and it’s hard to say exactly when or why. We are not at war, not in the middle of a new Intifada, but we are not at peace either. People walk fast and look around with more attention than the usual. It will pass, hopefully soon, but in the meantime, damages are caused, on many levels. Israel is not in any imaginable way a segregated society: thousands of Palestinians work in every city, move around the Country from north to south from east to west, every weekday, often travelling for several hours in order to check in at work. After the first week of attacks and riots, those workers are among the people more affected by the tensions. In mixed cities like Haifa and Acco, Arab restaurants and markets were desert over the past weekend. And in the Old City in Jerusalem, where every two stores in the narrow streets sell freshly squeezed fruit juices, working with a knife is becoming a problem. Knives scare people, who walk away from the beautiful oranges.

But it is on oranges that Israel was built, back in the Twenties and Thirties, prior to becoming a state. Before any hi-tech, before the highways, before the war of independence, before 1967 and “Ar habayt beyadenu” (“we got the Temple Mount”), before Efrat had a University, before every attempt of a peace was even needed with the surrounding millions of Arabs, Jews mainly focused on growing oranges. And thanks to the sophistication they reached, they succeeded, exported outstanding amounts of oranges all around the world, and that was the first sizeable jump in the economy of the area in decades.

Eighty years later, we all drive using Waze gps, we have Intel in our computers, and a small box with an Israeli flag (SpaceIL) is about to be sent up to the moon. Yet, if every Palestinian youth turns every orange-cutting knife available in the Country into a weapon, all our technology and our futuristic entrepreneurship goes back straight to 1929. And since that is a matter of choice, we need to convince them to drop the knife, and that requires a lot of work.

*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.