Today three other CPTers and I were asked to accompany some farmers harvesting their olives. I arrived early, along with a Canadian CPTer named Bod. We walked through the grove. Olive trees are beautifully ugly. They are hundreds of years old and have been weathered and warped, giving them a haunting majestic look, like something from Middle Earth. We walked through, and as we got higher up the hill I started noticing razor wire. The olive grove was within a stones throw from an illegal Israeli settlement (the stones throw part is important to remember), built on what is supposed to be Palestinian land. I call it illegal, not referring to international law (all Israeli settlements are illegal by that standard). This settlement, called Tel Rumeida, was built over an archaeological sight. The Israeli government continually ordered its citizens to stop building there, but when the Israelis did not stop there were no repercussions. So it’s officially not sanctioned even by the Israeli government, although Israel provides soldiers to protect the settlement.
Once everyone got there (some other CPTers, as well as other national and international peace-workers), we split up to be with different farmers, in case any settlers decided to come down and cause trouble. We had been informed that settlers had come down almost everyday since the harvest started. Actually the harvest was started prematurely, because some settlers came down and stole the olives off a Palestinian’s tree. The farmers in the area decided it was better harvest before the olives were ripe rather than have them all stolen.
So Bob and I sat under a tree watching… waiting… which got boring after about a minute, so we offered to help. The farmer, who’s name I won’t even try to spell, spoke little English, and we spoke basically no Arabic. I knew enough to ask “Where?” and he could point me to the right place. The work was self explanatory. It was all done by hand. I joined him up the tree and started dropping the olives onto a spread carpet on the ground. Bob then picked them up, and sorted them into a bucket. In a few weeks I’ll probably be buying them as olive oil from the market in town.
When the tree was almost completely picked the farmer invited us to take a break and have some tea. It was nice sitting in the shade of the olive tree, and sipping sweet hot tea, which his son, who had been helping us, served. The farmer even told us a story. The only words I could understand were ‘settlers’ and ‘rock’. Then he made a throwing motion, and rolled up his sleeve to show a large black and purple bruise on his arm, the impact of a large rock. No further translation was needed.
Surprisingly no settlers came today. I was relieved, and happy for the farmers and their families, that they could do at least one days work in peace. (And with some free labor). Settlers will come again, eventually, and I hope there are some internationals, even if it’s not us, there to help protect the farmers.
Here is a video from a few days ago, a Palestinian organization (Youth Against Settlements), with the help of cooperative Israeli soldiers sent the thieving settlers home empty handed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4Tui3Lj8jI
Praise that there were no settler attacks today
Prayer for safty for farmers throught the harvest season (this month)
A few of us are traveling to some villages in the South to see about getting involved with issues there. I’m the lead on that project. Pray that the meeting goes well, and that we can find ways to be involved. (More info coming soon).
An Israeli court recently awarded a strategic house to settlers. The neighbors are scared that if settlers move in they will be kicked out. Pray for safety and peace in that situation (More info soon)
Pray for peace.