Olive Picking – 2005 Tentative Schedule
This year, 34 participants from various countries of the world joined the Olive Picking Program. Countries included: Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, UK, USA, South Africa, and Palestine.
Participants expressed their satisfaction with the program and the fascinating experience and information they gained, as well as being with the farmers helping them picking their trees and listening to their stories of struggle and their dreams.
Click on daily activities and reflections
In Palestine, the last ten days of October in Palestine are marked by the celebration of the olive harvest season. This agricultural event is of special significance to the Palestinian economy where all energies and efforts are mobilized during this period.
For the past five years, the olive harvest has been overshadowed by the Israeli policies of repression, closure, blockage of streets, confiscation of agricultural lands, as well as repeated attacks against Palestinian farmers by Israeli settlers. Now with the construction the Apartheid Wall at the expense of the agricultural lands, many farmers are separated from their lands.
This year, the Joint Advocacy Initiative of The East Jerusalem YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine, in coordination with the Alternative Tourism Group and the Environmental Education Center, had planned a program for civil international solidarity with Palestinian people and farmers. The objective of this program is to mobilize as many people as possible for olive picking, especially in areas that are situated in proximity of Israeli settlements, and by-pass roads in order to help Palestinian farmers harvest their olive trees that they might be unable to harvest without international support.
Picking olives in Palestine is considered to be a remarkable experience because Palestine is the country of olives; about 13 million olive trees grow in Palestine on more than 70% of the agricultural lands. The olive tree in Palestine is an ancient source of basic livelihood and a great symbol of peace to the Palestinians. It is considered a holy tree being mentioned sixteen times in the Bible and eleven times in the Qur’an.
This program was designed to break the isolation of Palestinian villages and to bring about an effective help to the Palestinian farmers through international solidarity.
The program took place in the Bethlehem area, primarily in villages and areas that are threatened to be confiscated or are close to Israeli settlements that they are difficult for Palestinians to reach alone due to the current situation.