Olive trees have been cultivated for over 4,000 years and are known as an international symbol of peace. The olive tree and the prickly pear cactus are also traditional symbols of the Palestinian people and their connection to their homeland. This connection has remained strong despite occupation and long years of exile and displacement.
The olive tree has been a target of Israel’s destruction to Palestinian land. The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture has revealed that over 250,000 olive trees have been uprooted. Olive trees have been destroyed as part of the collective punishment policies the Israeli military use on Palestinian civilians. For many Palestinian farmers, the olive trees were a sole income for their families. Many of the trees are also being uprooted because of the building of the wall around the West Bank.
The YWCA of Palestine and YMCA of East Jerusalem, both longstanding partners of Global Ministries, are carrying out a campaign to replant 50,000 olive trees from areas where they have been uprooted. Replanting olive trees in Palestinian territories will encourage Palestinians to “keep hope alive” and to reaffirm their commitment to work constructively toward peace-building. Contributions in the first season of the Olive Tree Campaign have resulted in the planting of several thousand olive trees. Trees have been planted in the Bethlehem area and in the fields of Nablus, Ramallah, and in the Jerusalem area.
A gift of $20 covers the cost of the young tree, distribution, planting, and information for farmers on the best techniques for olive tree care. Sponsor labels are inscribed with the donor’s name and the quote “chose to keep hope alive.”
Update: June 2019
The Keep Hope Alive! Olive Tree Campaign continues to be an opportunity to support and show solidarity with the Palestinian Farmers in Area C (West Bank). The OTC is an educational, solidarity and advocacy tool with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and just peace. In the upcoming 2019-2020 olive tree planting and harvesting season, the Joint Advocacy Initiative has made a goal to plant 25,000 olive trees in Area C where Palestinian farmers have limited access to their land, water, power, and building permits. Beginning in December 2019 through March 2020, trees will be planted in coordination with agricultural committees, village councils, and the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture. A gift of $20 for the Keep Hope Alive! Olive Tree Campaign, provides a young olive tree, protective cover, support stick, and a portion of the costs for transportation, promotion materials, staff time, and a plaque including the name of the donor. In May 2020, each donor is able to look up the location of their tree(s) using GPS, a photo of the land benefited, a brief description of the farmer and family, and a photo of the plaque with the donor’s name.
To read more about the 2019-2020 olive tree planting and harvesting seasons, in addition to travel opportunities to participate in a week of planting or harvesting olive trees, continue reading here.