Wednesday, September 14, 2016
12:00pm – 1:00pm
McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street Providence, RI United States
Eventbrite is open for registration as of 4 p.m. August 31, and is required.
Please note: Lunches for registered guests will be held until 12:00 noon, then released for those on standby.
Initiative on Displacement 2016-17.
In October 1956, a group of former Palestinian citrus farmers, who had all become refugees in 1948, sued Barclays Bank in a Jordanian court in Jerusalem for £1 million. This amount represented the total value of the citrus crop exported collectively by them in 1947 via the Palestinian Citrus Marketing Board, which was a marketing board set up by the-then Mandatory Government of Palestine to regulate all citrus exports from Palestine.
Since the termination of the Palestine Mandate in 1948, the Palestinian citrus merchants had tried, for eight years, to be paid for their 1947 crop. They had appealed unsuccessfully to the British government, the Jordanian government, the Israeli government, the United Nations Conciliation Committee for Palestine (UNCCP), Barclays Bank in London, as well as to the new Israeli Citrus Marketing Board, which had replaced the Mandate-era institution in Israel. But none of the institutions or governments to which they appealed was willing or able to encash the Palestinian citrus merchants’ cheques, each claiming in turn that the problem was not its responsibility.
This talk will explore this little-known episode in Palestinian history, and use it as a lens through which to understand what happens to an economy when it is disrupted overnight not just by war and violence, but with the abrupt termination of one regime and its replacement by another. What happens to that economy’s institutions? What happens to its currency? What happens to its cheques and bonds and other financial assets which are, essentially, promises to be paid in the future? Most importantly, what happens to the economic lives and assets of the people who have to live through these transitions? How do they fight to defend their assets from expropriation, when they no longer have a state, or a regime, that can protect them?
The talk is drawn from material from Israeli and British archives; from the legal documents pertaining to the case; and from the oral testimony of the survivors of some of the Palestinian citrus merchants involved in the lawsuit.