Sunday, February 8, 2009

Welcome to the West Bank - Olive Tree Planting

On Friday, I went with RHR to plant Olive Trees in the West Bank. Why olive trees? Three reasons:
  1. Olive Trees are the symbol of peace
  2. It is a good productive way to bring Israelis and Palestinians together
  3. The picture below:
Along the horizon, is a Jewish settlement. Technically, these settlements in the West Bank are illegal, however - it is complicated. (As is EVERYTHING here)... and... well, they are there. And they are not supposed to expand, but... well, there are plans to expand this one. Is it illegal? Rabbis say yes. Is it unethical? The Rabbis say yes. But - the real issue - is that the land that is being marked for expansion is land that Palestinian families believe is their land.

So........ without further getting into the complicated political mess - let's talk about the proposed solution: olive trees.

Olive trees take about 10 years to mature to the point that they produce olives. Olives are the main source of income for Palestinians in this part of the West Bank, so the trees are prized enormously. Also, planting them means that the land is claimed - and in some way that I don't understand - it keeps people from being able to just take their land. Check this picture out: this is a Mennonite Christian and a Muslim planting a tree together.

Here I am super excited to stick that thing in the ground.

This is when I decided not to be a farmer, and began to wonder how in the world there was ever civilization on this land:
Here is the leader of a local mosque, beside Rabbi Yehiel - they worked together to create the event. They are both amazingly inspiring.
My first olive tree:

However - it got a bit more complicated. Apparently, soldiers had been ordered to plant some other kind of tree in the same area that we were planting - and apparently this kind of tree sucks the water and would kill the olive trees - so they pulled them out.
And sure enough - soon some soldiers were sent to check up on us. When they walked by, the mosque leader said to them 'someday i hope you put down your guns and work for peace with us' - and one replied 'i do not hope that - i am here only for the security of my country.' A feisty elderly Jewish woman next to me yelled after him 'in time you will understand!' The entire interaction was amazing to watch - there were all spectrums, all sorts of understandings of the situations - all sorts of people doing what they believed was right...

The almond trees began to bloom the last few days. It is beautiful.

Hopefully, in 10 years... our baby trees will grow into this:

1 comment:

Victor said...

I can't imagine how violence is ever right or ever helps the situation. McLaren in "Everything Must Change" imagines the role of a military in a healed society to be one that responds to natural disasters, for instance. I like that.