See more photos of the program.
Lasting from the 10th to the 19th of October, the JAI–ATG Olive Picking Program ended successfully. Around 90 internationals from 13 countries participated, coming to help Palestinian farmers and their families pick olives, accompany them, and provide protection in their threatened fields.
Participants worked with Palestinian families in the villages of Wad Foukin, Beit Sahour, Teqou', Walaja and Beit Jala within the Bethlehem area, and Tantour within the Jerusalem area. This year, the program came under conditions of escalating settler attacks and Israeli army measures, which caused an increase in riots and popular resistance movements by Palestinian youth in various cities and villages through out Palestine.
The program included guided tours in Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jerusalem; opportunities to witness and learn about the wall, settlements, land confiscation, checkpoints, and Israeli occupation measures, as well as to experience Palestinian heritage, religious sites, old cities, and an the olive pressing process. It also included geopolitical presentations from organizations such as BADIL and ARIJ on the issues of refugees and the Israeli measures to continuously displace Palestinians.
Evening presentations and discussions, such as the Kairos Palestine and Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) Campaign, highlighted and further explained the Israeli measures and life under occupation, as well as movements working for change.
Some participants' reflections:
- "Sadly Israelis form of bullying includes murder, ethic, cleansing, apartheid policies and politics, religious perversion and mayhem as official policy. As a citizen of a government complicit in Israelis policies for over 6 decades it is most important for me to witness, watch, warn." – Luke from the United State.
- "This program will hopefully raise awareness and show different realities than we see in our daily news at home. I did not know how serious the situation is till I came here." – Pauline from the United Kingdom.
- "This program gave me an opening view of the situation in Palestine. How Palestine gets attacked is unbelievable and makes me sad. But the people are so friendly, helpful and just amazing. I would recommend the program to anyone." – Barbara from the United States.
- "When I feel like there is no hope I look at BDS or see so much international people working here and I start to believe again in a peaceful solution. We have to help because too many are closing their eyes of this occupation and war." - Jackie from Switzerland.
- "I am just stunned when I see how grateful, friendly, and powerful those people here still are and how they teach us to be patience and peaceful. Even if we help those picking olives, it feels more like learning from them and their ways to go on with this situation." - Liz from the United States.
- "I enjoyed it a lot, but it also makes me very tired" – One of our youngest participants, 9 years old.
- "It is amazing… People have been doing this on this land for thousands of years and we are helping to continue the tradition." – Participant from the United States.
- "I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how to bring these stories back home and share them in ways that people will understand and be motivated to do something." – Participant from the United States.
- "I really had no idea that any of this was going on. It is not in the news back home and coming here and seeing it with my own eyes has made me want to keep learning and studying." – Participant from the United Kingdom.
- "I thought that I knew the situation but seeing it brings it to me personally on a whole other level. Being literally right where everything is happening left a huge impact on me." – Participant from the Netherlands.