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.”