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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

976: The olive tree once again serves as a symbol for peace, prosperity, and genuine coexistence

Day 976: Thursday, November 17, 2022

The olive tree once again serves as a symbol for peace, prosperity, and genuine coexistence. Let us continue to pray and work for a just peace.

From Steve Lyman: Dear Sisters and Brothers: The book I referred to last Sunday is:

"Silent Spring Revolution" by Douglas Brinkley. A book I am reading right now about Climate is titled, "Climate Restoration, The Only Future That Will Sustain the Human Race," by Peter Fiekowsky.

Also, there was a request to re-post the link to the Laudato Si movie, "The Letter." Here's the link. Thanks, Steve

by Jonathan Kuttab

The olive harvesting season in Palestine is drawing to a close.

As in every year, but perhaps to a much greater degree this year, the olive harvesting season is fraught with excitement, hard work, and danger. Palestinian families often leave their homes and jobs, for it is all-hands-on-deck when harvesting the olives from their lands, which are often closed off to them year-round. They often need special permission just to access their lands and harvest their olive trees. Labor is so in demand that many landless farmers often offer their labor in return for one third of the crop they harvest.

Schools are sometimes closed, and universities encourage students to volunteer by joining olive pickers as part of their required volunteer service hours each year. Olives are harvested hopefully before the first rains, which coincide with the Festival of the Cross for Palestinian Orthodox Christians.

In addition to the deep cultural significance and attachment to olive trees (a sign of blessing and abundance since biblical times), olive trees also attest to the continued agricultural use of the land by the Palestinians. Olive trees live for a long time. Some are reputed to go back to the times of Christ and are referred to by Palestinians as “Rumi trees” (referring to the times of the Romans). The trees also take several years to produce their olives, and therefore each generation benefits from the labor of previous generations as it plants trees for its children and grandchildren.

Olive trees, which are hardy and require little ongoing maintenance or artificial irrigation, stand as intergenerational proof of ongoing Palestinian use and cultivation.

For that very reason, Israeli authorities prohibit any additional planting of trees (particularly in Area C), even on Palestinian lands that are clearly private. Also for that reason, settlers often cut down and burn olive trees. Palestinians respond by planting trees on their land whenever they can, sometimes as a form of nonviolent resistance and as a method of hanging on to their lands. Foreign and Israeli volunteers often joined in these tree-plantings.

One silver lining in this story is the role of Israeli Jewish volunteers and organizations like Rabbis for Human Rights, who organize to help with the olive harvest and assist in the protection of Palestinian farmers during this season. Recently, these brave Jews have been specifically targeted by the settlers, who attack and injure them as well as vandalize their cars. This is the most effective form of Jewish-Arab coexistence.

It comes from acts of solidarity, respect, and co-resistance to the evil of the occupation. Even though their numbers are few, these brave Israeli peace activists truly provide hope for the future. They stand with Palestinians in their daily fight for survival in concrete terms and often pay a very real price for it. Talk of peace that does not include such active forms of co-resistance becomes nothing more than polite normalization of existing injustice.

The olive tree once again serves as a symbol for peace, prosperity, and genuine coexistence. Let us continue to pray and work for a just peace.

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