Palestine Scientists Study New Uses for Orange As War Hits Citrus Trade
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Palestine Scientists Study New Uses for Orange As War Hits Citrus Trade

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With a citrus crop estimated at 12,000,000 cases ripening and the shipping season opening, most of the scientific ability and business acumen of Palestine is now concentrated on oranges.

It is feared that 50 per cent of the crop cannot be marketed abroad because of war conditions. The German, Austrian, Czechoslovak and Polish markets, which together accounted for a million cases a season, is now closed. The United Kingdom, which ordinarily buys 70 per cent of the crop, nowadays consumes less. Similarly, all European countries are conserving their foreign exchange balances for war purposes. Shipping is scarce and freight rates have shot up. The reappearance of the Spanish crop is also an adverse facto.

Efforts are now being made to utilize a great part of the crop in Palestine itself. The Sieff Institute at Rehoboth, headed by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, has devised a process for mass squeezing, establishing a residue which constitutes nourishing cattle fodder. The juice can be converted into alcohol. This is suggested as a possible outlet for 3,000,000 cases, yielding 2,000 tons of alcohol, which is two-thirds more than Palestine’s yearly consumption, but it is hoped the surplus will be saleable for war purposes.

Another promising outlet is use of orange peel as raw material for acetone, imported for the making of explosives according to the process devised by Dr. Weizmann during the last war. Other by-product use include manufacture of insulating material, plastics, medicines and also conversion of peel into a poison gas absorbent for gas masks.

The war has brought to a head the difficulties of the under-capitalized citrus industry so that today hardly any grower is solvent. Optimists say that if the growers and shippers get together and coordinate their activities, the income from the exported portion of the crop would be not far below that obtained in previous years for the entire crop.

An ideal arrangement would be something on the pattern of the California citrus Exchange, pooling the exporting of the entire crop. The Palestine Government is promoting an agreement between Arab and Jewish growers and exporters, but while the Jews demand 67 per cent of the export quota, representing last year’s proportion, the Arabs demand 45 per cent.

Disaster to the citrus industry would be more telling to the Jews than to the Arabs. Jewish citrus groves have an estimated value of $50,000,000, even at present depressed levels. Three thousand growers with their families and 20,000 workers are dependent on the groves.


The following elections, in addition to those already listed above, were recorded at the meeting:

Re-elected vice-chairmen were George Backer, David M. Bressler, Alexander Kahn, Gov. Lehman, William Rosenwald, and Rabbi Jonah B. Wise, all of New York. Dr. Solomon Lowenstein of New York, William Shroder of Cincinnati, and Judge M.C. Sloss of San Francisco. Joseph C. Hyman, executive director of the J.D.C., was elevated to the post of executive vice chairman. Abner Bregman of New York was named associate treasurer and Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz, assistant secretary of the committee, was named secretary.

Besides the officers, all members of the board of directors and the executive committee up for re-election were renamed. In addition nine new names were added to the executive committee. They are Mr. Dubinsky, Samuel A. Goldsmith, executive director of the Jewish Charities of Chicago; Dr. J.J. Golub of New York; Mr. Held; Harold F. Linder; Hirsh Manischewitz of Cincinnati, noted leader of orthodox Jewry; Prof. Jerome Michael of Columbia University; Judge Morris Rothenberg of New York and Max M. Warburg of New York.

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