From Ed Crouch, a member of the United Church of Christ, Voices of Palestine, Palestine Task Force and INOC (Interfaith Network of Concern for the people of the Middle East). Published in the Sept-Oct 2014 issue of Hospitality, the newsletter of the Open Door Community of Atlanta.
An evening breeze whispers through
the ripe olive grove, “Ashes to ashes.”
Magnificent, thick, twisted trunks, rooted in
poor soil, withstanding drought for centuries,
are ignited by settlers, leaving
crackling torches in the night,
incinerating an entire crop –
tended for generations – forever!
Wind wafts the wailing.
More than 300,000 Israelis have occupied 150 settlements on the West Bank since 1967. This is on private land cultivated for generations by Palestinians. Eighty thousand families depend on the income from the olive crop, oil and soap products for their livelihood. Trees can be productive for hundreds of years.
Attacks come from settlers who often torch one field to distract farmers and firefighters from total destruction of a larger, distant field under the protection of soldiers. The military sometimes declare Palestine hilltop groves as military areas, and fence them off. Later the ancient trees are bulldozed for eventual highways, walls and new settlements. From 1967 to 2013, approximately 80,000 olive trees have been burned, bulldozed and destroyed.
Continuous water, available to Israelis, is often limited to two days a week for Palestinians. Even if the trees get water, severe export restrictions apply to crops, forcing Palestinians to sell to Israelis before crops spoil. Israeli homes are often decorated with confiscated olive wood.
All this is destructive to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that must take place. Since America supports Israel to the tune of over $3 billion a year, we are supporting Israel’s apartheid policies towards Pales- tinians with our tax dollars. Accordingly, America should sanction Israel, as a
start. Oh, for an olive branch!