Olive trees are integral to life in the West Bank. According to OCHA , around 183,000 hectares of land in occupied territories are cultivated for agriculture, nearly half of it for olive trees, mostly in the North and Northwest West Bank. “Between 80,000 and 100,000 families are said to rely on olives and olive oil for primary or secondary sources of income and the sector employs large numbers of unskilled laborers and approximately 15 per cent of working women.” Olive trees connect the Palestinian people to their land and their ancestors, provide income and substance for generations, and are an important symbol of Palestinian culture.
Tragically, year after year, trees planted and cultivated by Palestinian farmers in Area C are uprooted, burned, poisoned and chopped down by extremist settlers. In 2016, over 1500 trees were vandalised according to OCHA. Palestinian farmers also face physical intimidation, violence, threats, and attempts to take-over their land or block their access to it by these extremists. Despite the fact that the army has been mandated by Israeli law to ensure that Palestinians are able to safely complete their agricultural work in Area C, it is not unusual for the army to turn a blind-eye to this abuse, or even participate in it themselves. For many Palestinians, the only interaction they have with Israeli Jews is with extremist settlers, or with the army.
This extremism, injustice and discrimination is not our Judaism. For that reason, every year, Rabbis for Human Rights donates thousands of olive trees to Palestinian villages that have experienced or are at risk of violence and property destruction as a result of Israel’s military control over the West Bank. In addition, on Tu B’Shevat as well as on other occasions, we join these farmers in the field, bringing with us tens of volunteers to work alongside them to put these “trees of hope” into the ground, together. Recent photos from our Tu B’Shevat 2017 planting in Turmous Ayya are here.
In a powerful show of restorative justice, hope, solidarity and fellowship, we demonstrate a different face of Judaism — one that unequivocally expresses our condemnation of the injustice perpetrated against Palestinian farmers and their agriculture!
Just $10 purchases an olive sapling. We’ll make sure it finds its way into the ground. Go here to donate, and be sure to choose “olive tree campaign” in the pull down menu titled “projects.”