Yehoshua Meshulami, a date farmer from the West Bank, has faced tribulations over the years, but this month, the fruit of his labor was shipped around the world.
A father to 17 children, Meshulami had to leave his poultry farm when the Jewish communities of Gush Katif were uprooted in 2005 under then-prime minister Ariel Sharon.
The following year, his son was killed in the battle of Saluki during the 2006 Lebanon War.
The family was unable to return to the poultry business, but instead built a new home, and a new life, in Mevo’ot Yericho in the West Bank.
The family has 500 date trees with each tree producing roughly 100 kilograms [220 pounds] per year.
It's tricky to pick dates, says Meshulami, because not all the dates ripen at the same time. One has to return to the same tree four or five times to ensure that only the ripe dates are taken, and at the right time.
“Our goal in planting this orchard is to cultivate the land,” concludes Yehoshua. “[The orchard] stands high and shows clear possession of the land. Furthermore, it projects eternal and established ownership. This reinforces the point to both the Arabs and the Jews that we are here to stay.”
Another challenge Meshulami and his neighbors face are boycotts of Israeli goods produced in the West Bank, from activists and more recently, the Irish government.
The farmer teamed up with 'Lev HaOlam' [Heart of the World], which sends baskets of West Bank products to those who support these Jewish communities.
His dates were featured in July's basket, along with wine from Gush Etzion, tehina from Mishor Adumim and dried tomatoes from Tekoa.