Monday, August 3, 2015

Tel Aviv: Old New Land

This post was suggested by commenter Raven.

Tel Aviv.  1909.  Photo from HERE

From Rare Historical Photos website:

In April 1909, 66 Jewish families gathered on a desolate sand dune to parcel out the land by lottery using seashells. This gathering is considered the official date of the establishment of Tel Aviv. The lottery was organised by Akiva Arye Weiss, president of the building society. Weiss collected 120 sea shells on the beach, half of them white and half of them grey. The members’ names were written on the white shells and the plot numbers on the grey shells.

But how did they turn the dessert in a farmed and populated territory? The trick has been known here since time immemorial, first you plant wheat which grows in sand, then after a decade or so you plant hardy root vegetables and fruiting shrubs, then after a decade or two more the sand becomes topsoil hardy enough for basically anything which is when you plant the olives and reclaim the arable land forever. Israel employed this ancient knowledge plus modern agricultural research to basically shove the desert as far south as it wanted to. Once food security was achieved in the late 50’s a small strip was left for future agricultural development and almost all of the rest of the desert was preserved in one way or another.

Of course, it helps to have ample ground water and eager, hardworking immigrants.

Contemporary Tel Aviv, population approximately 400,000.  Image from HERE

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