a tree named olive

1. it’s easy to remain still and silent when the rain is telling you to do so. today has come and gone without so much as a glimpse of participation; except for the splash-filled tinker around the corner to try and find some homely rooibos tea and to get some milk but picked up yoghurt instead because of the label in hebrew; i laugh because i do not expect to be in a foreign land and have things to be spelled out for me; so i’ll no doubt enjoy the yoghurt.
today was a sick-day – of rubbing kokotha bush medicine on my throat – of smells from that earth and plants so faraway from here, of not feeling sorry for myself and mostly remembering to be slow sometimes…

toherz shoes_recpt

Again and again the settlers
Attack Palestinian olive pickers.

The army and police look on
Or declare a “closed military area”
And drive the Palestinians out.

Soldiers and policemen who dare
To Confront the settlers
Are themselves attacked
With no backing from their officers.

If we don’t end the occupation –
The settlers will occupy us, too.

URI AVNARY
http://www.gush-shalom.org

2. a tree with a name
due to the 680km separation wall built around the West Bank “and in some cases due to violent settlers assaulting palestinians and denying them access to their land”(The Other Israel, Nov 07) many people no longer have access to their communities, schools, crops or businesses – some olive growers have been separated from their fields and have to get special permission from the army to harvest; this is possible yet they’re often only allowed themselves and and their partner to help with the work. There are various political and non-political organisations within Israel that help Palestinians with their olive harvesting. I joined a Fair Trade group ‘Sindyanna’ (http://www.sindyanna.com) who works with Israeli-Palestinians within Israel’s borders in the Galilee to 1.ensure Fair Trade sales of Olive products mostly to a middle class European market. 2. To raise the status of Arab women in their society. This time we went to an Arab village whose name i have shamefully forgotten, not far from the Sea of Galilee, which if i were christian, i would have had many a moment imagining Jesus walking on water and other biblical references..

And so as i am looking from the window of the bus through these arab villages i am looking at myself looking out the window of the bus at these arab villages and thinking of how i could not have imagined this reality before – and how much that reminded me of living in a bubble of selfishness within only one reality. and it reminds me of the un-easy-ness of life for some people, and also to contest the ‘divide’ some people/governments/societies work so hard at creating.

druze village, galilee

druze village, galilee

druze village

druze village

arab village, Galilee

arab village, Galilee

3. last trees for this year’s harvest
at the start as the group walks up the slope to where the olive trees line the hillside asfarastheneweyescansee and across the valley far over there is a druze village and it looks like a model and im looking and looking and looking because this is what i do.  and so. at the start there is not much introduction, just some words spoken in arabic, some words spoken in hebrew, some family, a lot of young people arrive, they’ve got food and laughter and then allofasudden everyone is at work. i feel like an outsider, so an outsider grabs her camera and states this to be obvious and so i am clicking away and away and away and then i stop and put it away and begin to pick olives from these beautiful trees that could be so old to have been named. perhaps. i do not know. and so many are falling to the ground on to the canvases placed there for easy collection, and people are singing and people are shouting and kids are running amok and i climb into the tree and focus on removing these fruits from the branches and this is all i am doing and i forget about everything else.

olives_02

olives_05

olives_03

childpickingfromcanvas

fields

olivepicking02

4. of rights of land.
self-determination; so i can think not only in theoretical terms now about this global concept. i’m slowly connecting this land to the one back home. the same ‘kind’ of struggles – in some ways, in other ways so different, but ultimately the same. “Sindyanna of Galilee is also unique in that it relies on cooperation between Arabs and Jews, based on a mutual belief in equality and in the Palestinian right to self-determination.”
so from arabic to hebrew to english whispered into my ear i learn of the divide between arab israelis and jewish israelis; theoretically all Palestinians living within the state of Israel (arab-israeli citizens) have all the same rights as Jewish Israelis, however, as you can imagine, this is not the case; They do not get nearly the same water rights, and so their harvest cannot be as big, (luckily olive trees do not need much water), they do not get the same rights to land, and Jewish settlers are encroaching further and further into arab areas…”we are much larger in population than they [jewish israelis] are in this area, yet they are given much more land..” the owner of this olive crop tells us.

olivepicking03

olivepicking04
5. brief
and so i say; thanks for showing me something i have never seen before. not a mere thing to say, this. but i suppose everything i am doing here is something i have never done before or never seen before – yet i am yearning for familiarity in the difference. we wait for the bus to repair itself on the highway outside the israeli version of starbucks next to an expanse of torn earth and hills inclining with crumbling architecture of homes and lives and history. there’s honking, the sun is glowing fading away tonight and i am quiet. i am learning not to understand the language; not only because i simply cannot understand the language; but it makes me think of how much i actually listen to the chatter around me or if it is more just a state of familiarity. to begin with i was thinking [they] must all be talking about such interesting things, perhaps its about me too! ha. i like to laugh at myself. and how egocentric we can be at times. its a fear no doubt. i am learning about a whole new breed of fear in this land. my own, and others’.

olivepicking05

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