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Avocados Are Only Half the Story
Artist: Unattributed
Publishers: The General Union of Palestinian Students and Welsh Labour Students
Dimensions: Approximately 24” x 18”
Circa 2001

This poster depicts fruit crates overflowing with avocados and oranges, respectively. The Carmel and Jaffa brand labels identify the produce as Israeli-grown. The caption, “Avocados are only half the story,” attempts to draw attention to a less appetizing truth behind Israel’s agricultural export industry. That part of the story is told through the stickers plastered on the crates — a collage of scenes of Palestinians being questioned, arrested, and beaten. The crates are superimposed upon a larger scene of Israeli soldiers wearing gas masks and subduing a Palestinian civilian with billy clubs.


Israel’s economy has, from the earliest days of the Zionist movement, depended in large part on its agricultural production, which it developed via the kibbutz system (Hebrew: farm collectives). Early Zionist propaganda romanticized the taming of the desert by dedicated chalutzim (Hebrew: pioneers) and its transformation into a cornucopia capable not only of supplying Israelis with all their staple crops, but also into an economic engine producing substantial export crops to provide Israel with desperately needed foreign exchange.

Since independence in 1948, Israel has been granted many beneficial trade arrangements with the European Union. In the wake of the Al Aqsa intifadah (Arabic: uprising) and the increasingly harsh policies of the Sharon government, many of these agreements are now endangered. Trade unions across Europe are calling for their termination. In some countries such as Norway, dockworkers are refusing to unload ships bearing Israeli produce. Student groups around the world have organized to boycott Israel’s agricultural products and wine industry and discourage tourism to Israel. European citizens are lobbying their governments to vote against welcoming Israel into the European Union. There is also a growing movement among universities in Europe and the U.S. to divest from funds that invest in Israel.

These anti-Occupation protests draw their inspiration from the international grassroots anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, which helped force the South African government to reconsider, and ultimately abolish, its racist policies. Speaking about the intellectual and moral cohesion of the anti-apartheid and anti-Occupation movements, Nobel Laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said:

The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the last century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure. There is no greater testament to the basic dignity of ordinary people everywhere than the divestment movement of the 1980s.

A similar movement has taken shape recently, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. We should hope that average citizens again rise to the occasion, since the obstacles to a renewed movement are surpassed only by its moral urgency.

Source: “Build Moral Pressure to End the Occupation” — International Herald Tribune, June 14, 2002

Few Europeans expect that the simple act of purchasing oranges grown in Morocco instead of ones grown in Israel or canceling their plans to spend Christmas in the Holy Land will result in an immediate Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. However, they know from the experience with the battle against apartheid that millions of small, individual decisions taken collectively and persistently can have a monumental effect.

© 2003 Liberation Graphics. All Rights Reserved.

Questions for A New
Democratic Discussion

1) How has Palestinian agriculture been affected by the efforts to create and maintain Israel?

2) What percentage of Israeli produce is grown on land that the international community considers occupied and therefore is cultivated in violation of Geneva Conventions and other international laws?

3) What is the effect on the Palestinian economy of international boycotts on Israeli goods, produce, and services?

4) What is the official U.S. policy regarding boycotts of Israeli goods?

5) What are the specific economic and political parallels, and differences, between the anti-apartheid boycotts of the 1980s and the anti-Israel boycott of today?

6) Do free trade policies recognize human rights issues?



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