The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday and touted Israeli “perfection” of the cherry tomato:
Israeli knowhow is everywhere. It’s in your computers’ microprocessors and flash drives. It’s in your smartphones, when you send instant messages and navigate your cars. It’s on your farms, when you drip irrigate your crops and keep your grains and produce fresh . . . It’s even on your plate, when you eat the delicious cherry tomato. That too was perfected in Israel, in case you didn’t know.
The New York Times bureau chief in Israel, Jodi Rudoren, promptly echoed the Prime Minister:
Wikipedia (citing Jewish Week) says the most common modern species of cherry tomatoes was developed in Israel in 1973.
The Israeli government, deeply worried about the country’s declining international image, began a campaign on Wednesday to turn every Israeli — and ultimately every Jew — into a traveling public relations agent . . .One main message of the campaign is that Israel is a technically advanced and diverse society and that its government policies are not the source of regional conflict. It notes that a number of important agricultural breakthroughs have occurred here, including drip irrigation and the development of the cherry tomato.
Rudoren’s source was this Jewish Week hasbara tour of a science museum in Israel, cited in Wikipedia:
My guides explained the revolutionary nature of how Hazera Genetics, under the tutelage of two Hebrew University professors, developed a strain of the small tomatoes that ripened slowly, stayed fresh in shipment, turned the tomato into a commodity to be bought in clusters like grapes and brought untold millions of dollars into the Israeli treasury.
And look at this, the Israeli ministry of Foreign Affairs also brags on Hazera Genetics:
Israeli tomato expertise has become legendary worldwide. The cherry tomato was developed in Israel in 1973, and it was here that Israeli seed breeder Hazera Genetics launched the first tomato strain with immunity to a devastating virus . . .
“The Israelis claiming that they have developed the cherry tomato is completely unfounded. As a matter of fact, the ‘regular’ tomato itself was developed from cherry tomatoes as one parent, and reports of the existence of cherry tomatoes appear before 1948. While the Israelis have produced some popular varieties, most commercial varieties were developed somewhere else. The coveted Santorini variety of cherry tomatoes that Rami refers to is still only grown in Santorini-Greece and is largely unchanged. It is also thought that the Santorini originally came from somewhere in Egypt, so the Egyptians can claim that they are behind one of the most famous cherry tomato varieties. Other very popular varieties like Sweet 100 and derivatives have been developed in the US. North Carolina State University (especially R. Gardner), as well as the USDA have developed many varieties as well as the breeding lines that others (like those Israelis) use to develop new varieties. This claim, as with their other false claim that they have developed drip irrigation (which was ‘invented’ in the US), as Rami said, is their usual practice of taking something that they have not invented and slapping their name on it. Of course, as any self-deluding Lebanese knows, the act of claiming a non-existent achievement is itself a practice that the Israelis have stolen from the Lebanese.”
The first signs of cultivation have been reported in 1875. A certain fact is from that day to this, the variety has not changed at all, nor has it been grafted with another string.
The older population of the island maintain the first seeds arrived from the Suez. The Santorinian captains used to stop there for supplies, and after trying the tomatina, they brought the seeds back. The crops were of course successful due to the dry climates of both Egypt & Santorini.
The ‘baby tomato’ went so well, by the turn of the 20th century 20,000 acres were being harvested and 14 processing factories were in operation.
This Geek site supports the Israeli claim to improving the cherry tomato in the 1970s:
Haim Rabinowitch and Nachum Kedar, two Israeli academic researchers, genetically engineered the cherry tomato in 1973. Their goal was to produce a sturdier tomato variety that was easier to harvest, and their success paved the way for other Israeli scientists to introduce virus-resistant and dripless tomatoes.
Of course the real question is why the NYT bureau chief in Jerusalem sees his or her role as piping Israeli propaganda. As James North tweeted to Rudoren:
[email protected] Hadeel al-Haslamoun is murdered at a checkpoint in broad daylight and this is what you tweet about? #PalestinianLivesDoNotMatter