Well, they are.
I spent much of June running around the West Bank looking at the regulatory environment for agricultural exports. (Yeah, it's taken me a month to get around to blogging about it.) This involved visiting farms, greenhouses, packing houses, and even a date processing plant. Up until then, I didn't even know that dates needed processing. I thought -- insofar as I thought about it at all, which I guess I didn't -- it's a fruit, it comes off a tree, you eat it. Turns out, no. Lot of stuff has to happen first.
Anyway, dates. The things that look like giant raisins, yah? They grow on date palms, which are medium sized palm trees that like a hot arid climate. Popular across the Middle East, growing in popularity in the West as a healthy snack food. Nice little hit of tasty calories, lot of fiber, some vitamins. In Muslim countries they're a traditional food for Ramadan, of which more shortly.
Date palms are desert plants, but dates are a thirsty crop: if you want to grow dates commercially the palms will soak up astonishing amounts of water. That's because the date palm adjusts its output of fruit to match the availability of water. Palms can survive perfectly well on very little water, but then they won't produce a lot of dates. So whenever you see a date palm plantation -- and they're a very common sight in Israel and Palestine, especially along the Jordan valley -- you're looking at a lot of water.