“Ulivo” in Italian,
“Zetun” in Arabic,
and “Olive” in English.
An ode to life passed down from one generation to the next, among the peoples of this earth who feed on its precious juice from time immemorial.
By a freak of nature, in Palestine the olive tree, universally recognised as a symbol of peace, finds the most favourable climate to thrive in.
If peace is a mirage around here, olive trees at the moment aren’t doing all that well, either. As a matter of fact, it’s now on its way to extinction. Since the second Intifada, more than half a million olive trees have been uprooted from Palestinian soil, by hand of the military or the Israeli settlers.
It’s been calculated that the hurdles placed between the Palestinian farmers and their cultivated land are over 500, to which one should sum all the complications connected with the lay-out of the wall of Apartheid illegally built by Israel.
When it will stand, out of nine million trees that were counted in a census, only one million will still be accessible to Occupied Palestine.
If farmers in the West Bank count on the olive harvest to survive, they must then suffer the repeated attacks of the colonists. Here in Gaza it’s the Israeli Army itself that uproots them, as if following a precise criminal plan aiming to aggravate the poverty of the Palestinians. Up to what point, I ask myself, the Warsaw ghetto?
In Palestine, the olive tree is valued for its historical presence, its beauty, symbolic significance and, most important of all, its economic worth. Some of Palestine’s main commercial harvests are olives, and many families rely on them for their survival. Besides the landowning families, the olive harvest directly involves thousands of people, from the harvesters to the millers, right through to those in charge of transportation and sales of the oil, which makes up 22% of Palestinian agricultural production.
Uprooting an ancient olive tree is equivalent to confiscating memory, which is probably why the Zionists and the Israeli Army seem to get a kick out of it. They’re erasing from their memory that the land they're occupying doesn’t belong to them but has been ousted, stolen, and rights have been denied.
We visited the farmers of Beit Hanoun, and picked their olives in their orchards, near the Israeli border, where everything had been razed to the ground by bulldozers and military vehicles twice.
That includes thousands of olive trees, many of which were 50 years old.
I’m sorry, but last time, two months ago hadn't you told us that Gaza was no longer under occupation?
The Palestinian farmers around here have lost from 150,000 to 200,000 olive trees.
We took part in the harvest with them because they often get shot at by Israeli soldiers while they’re planting new trees, whereas other times they'll get arrested.
Mahmoud Darwish wrote:
You stole my forefathers' vineyards
And land I used to till,
I and all my children,
And you left us and all my grandchildren
Nothing but these rocks.
Will your government be taking them too
As is being said?
Put it on record at the top of page one:
I don't hate people,
I trespass on no one's property.
And yet, if I were to become hungry
I shall eat the flesh of my usurper.
Beware, beware of my hunger
And of my anger!
How is it possible that no one in Tel Aviv is aware of this tragic reality?
If the famine imposed by Israel upon the peaceful Palestinian farmers turned into cannibalism, it certainly wouldn’t be by a twist of fate.
Darwish also wrote:
“Here and here our blood will plant its olive tree.”
As it happens, they’ve razed down olive orchards and harvested cemeteries.
They’ve uprooted thousand-year-old trees and hoisted tombstones right into the earth, for those who’ve been fed by this land for millennia.
Now it’s the murdered Palestinians who feed the earth, turning into compost for new olive trees that’ll have to face the creaking of the tanks, besides the tests of time, exactly the way every Palestinian farmer does.
Other olive trees have risen now, feeding on the gangrene, the blood of those who only asked to be allowed to farm in peace, the symboul of the peace.
Let’s do something to stop this haemorrhage, it’s an emergency.
contact: guerrillaingaza (@) gmail.com
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