1979: The Colonial Exploitation of Occupied Palestine

Sheila wrote a book chapter on the economics of the Israeli occupation:

Zionism, Imperialism and Racism

“The Colonial Exploitation of Occupied Palestine : a study of the transformation of the economies of the West Bank and Gaza”, by Sheila Ryan, in Zionism, Imperialism, and Racism, ed. A.W. Kayyali, Croom Helm (London), 1979.

This research was cited in a Village Voice front-page article:

Middle Eastern Bantustan

Today, 90 per cent of the imports to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip come from Israel, and two-thirds of their exports are marketed in Israel. Israel has efficiently protected its markets in the occupied areas by levying regular customs duties on imports to the West Bank and Gaa strip from all other countries. In her paper on the “Colonial Exploitation of Occupied Palestine”, Sheila Ryan points out that the imports from Israel are predominantly industrial products, also including such basic foodstuffs as flour, sugar, and rive, which had been previously imported through Jordan. The occupied areas also import large quantities of grains, fruits and vegetables, and agricultural produce from Israel, and are now actually less self-sufficient in food supplies than they were in 1967.

Agricultural Colonization

The Israeli occupation has resulted in an almost classic colonial pattern in agriculture. The Israelis have attempted to reduce production of certain crops that are not particularly suitable to the Israeli market and increase harvests of such agricultural commodities as potatoes, vegtables, and field crops, which can be consumed in Israel either directly or used in canning. The process of eroding traditional agriculture in the occupied areas is subtle but effective. Ryan explains, “The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture uses a network of agricultural councils, agronomists, and agricultural-training agents, and incentives of seeds and partial subsidies of costs to encourage farmers to plant the new approved crops rather than the traditional crops the Israeli government wishes to reduce.

An excellent example, cited by Ryan, involves the melon crop. Before the June 1967 War, the West Bank produced three times as many melons as it consumed, exporting the surplus to the East Bank and other Arab countries. In 1967-’68 the West Bank grew 60,000 tons of melons. In 1973-’74 the figure dropped to 4200 tons. In that year the West Bank was importing 50 per cent of its melons, most of them from Israel and a small number from the Gaza strip.

— From “A Palestinian State Is The Only Solution“, by Alexander Cockburn and James Ridgeway, Village Voice, Jan 30, 1978, pp 1, 11.

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