Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dinner in Jerusalem

I have just been forced by the Israeli Defense Force to stay inside the restaurant where I am having dinner - behind barricades - as the occupying Jewish Settlers are rampaging through the streets of East Jerusalem. It would seem this is just another day in Occupied Palestine. Bon app├ętit.

The Malleable Landscape

Greetings from the illegally annexed and militarily occupied East Jerusalem. The olive picking program is now over. I have met fabulously resilient and very kind people who are, as can be imagined, forced to live in a very strange, Orwellian world, where the political landscape they inhabit is ever-changing under the guise of the expanding Jerusalem municipality boundary - which now seems to have gobbled up nearly half of the West Bank. Farmers need permission to enter fields they had cultivated previously for generations, as suddenly they are in a "closed military zone". Reason? Another settlement is expanding onto their land and the colonizing inhabitants, who are now residing on stolen land, apparently need a protective zone around them. If that land contains a three hundred year old Palestinian olive grove - well it's OK to vandalize it with impunity to show
them that it's their god-given homeland. Picking the olives thus becomes an important way to express ones solidarity with the Palestinians' quest to retain their fundamental right to .... well, stay alive on their land while, steadfastly holding on to their culture.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Olive Trees Amidst the Occupation

The olive trees remain steadfast and are thriving this season in the West Bank, even thought they too are forced to endure life under the brutal military dictatorship. This means the farmer can be arbitrarily prevented from tending to his trees, as he must enter his field this year through a military checkpoint. In the ever changing political landscape here, this means that the continual land grab by the Israeli governance marches on. Municipal boundaries are expanded to incorporate traditional Palestinian land into areas previously having been designated as belonging to Israel. Water for the trees are highly restricted under military orders, in order that the illegally occupying settlements in the hillside above the farm - also on expropriated Palestinian land - have unlimited water for their exclusive enjoyment. The amount of time and number of people permitted to pick the olives are also heavily scrutinized. The harvest has been recast as a security risk.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Olive Harvest Under Occupation

For generations Palestinian families have rejoiced during the olive harvest season. With the deepening of the military occupation, farm land has been continually confiscated to make room for ever-expanding illegal and racist settlements. Trees on Palestinian-owned land are uprooted to be replaced by Jewish-only housing projects, or else for the equally illegal Separation Wall. Joy borne of an abundant harvest is replaced by the trauma of life under military rule. Internationals are needed to prevent settler-mediated violence, and of course to help with the olive picking itself. The work is at times hard in the blazing sun. The deep appreciation received for our small efforts is enormously gratifying. Showing the people that they are not forsaken by the world and that in spite of governmental inaction, civil society is united in solidarity with them is vital in countering the hopeless that comes from decades of massive human rights violations.