Sunday, October 19, 2008

Olive harvest

Olive grove at Ni'lin, Occupied West Bank.

Australian growers rightfully pride themselves on producing world-class olive oil, most of which, because it is a young industry and production levels are comparitively low, is sold at premium prices.  It is something of a luxury.

By contrast, in Occupied Palestine olive trees are grown virtually everywhere.  Wherever it is possible to plant and nourish these hardy trees they grow; on barren hillsides, in the valleys and in household gardens.  The fruits of the trees are eaten at every meal - as preserved olives, as a dipping oil, in salads or used for frying.  They sustain life.  Far from being a luxury, they are a basic necessity.  They are also, by far, the country's most important crop.
As in Australia, the olives are harvested once a year, in late summer.  However, Palestinian farmers face a threat which their counterparts in Australia (and Italy and Spain and Greece) do not - spiteful, sometimes murderous, Jewish settlers intent on disrupting or stopping the harvest.  As an encouragement for the Palestinian owners to abandon their lands Zionist thugs from nearby settlements routinely chop down and burn the trees, and attack villagers attempting to harvest their crops.

Despite these religous zealots bent on destruction and a complicit army of occupation, international volunteers go to Palestine each summer to help with the harvest and, by their presence, to discourage the worst of the violence.  I urge anyone who has the time and the means to do so to go and help the Palestinians bring in their crop.  You will be welcomed with open arms.

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