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YWCA-YMCA joint Olive Tree Campaign

July 29, 2005

Greetings from the Joint Advocacy Initiative of The East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine. We are glad to introduce a new Olive Tree Campaign Newsletter format. It will be sent quarterly on the 15th of the month featuring current news and recent updates, new information on the campaign, and upcoming events.

As the third planting season is over with about 6,600 olive trees planted, preparations are underway for the next planting season that should start in December of 2005. The gained experience from the previous seasons should help us function more efficiently. Our objectives are to exceed the number of trees planted last season, allocate new fields, strengthen the bond with our existing sponsors, and approach new sponsors.

On Saturday April 16th, a group of Israeli soldiers invaded a newly planted olive field east of Bethlehem, destroyed a number of trees, and smashed a plaque that was placed in honor of Rachel Corrie, a 23 year old American peace activist who was run over and killed by a caterpillar bulldozer on March 16th, 2003. The olive trees and the plaque were donated by friends of Sabeel – North America through Sister Elaine Kelly. Friends of Sabeel – North America has provided us with additional funds to replace the destroyed trees and smashed plaque. We are grateful for their support and solidarity.

Following last year’s success, the Joint Advocacy Initiative of The East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine and in coordination with the Alternative Tourism Group and the Environmental Education Center, has planned a program for Civil International Solidarity with Palestinian people and farmers through organizing an olive picking program. The program will take place in Bethlehem area and will run from the 21st until the 30th of October. Besides picking olives, the program will feature introductory presentations about the organizing institutions, current situation in Palestine, effect of the Apartheid Wall, tours in the old city of Jerusalem and the nativity church in Bethlehem, a tour in Hebron, and cultural evenings and social gatherings.

Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture show that 456,389 olive trees were uprooted since the beginning of the second Intifada on 28/09/2000. This amounts to a loss of $17,363,592 in the olive sector.

The new Joint Advocacy website will be launched in September. It will contain detailed unified information from both organizations concerning our campaigns, activities, upcoming events, photo galleries, and most important of all, an online database allowing olive tree sponsors to check the status of their trees, preview photos, and even sponsor a tree online.

Finally, we are grateful for your support and we do hope that the simple act of sponsoring an olive tree will be the beginning of an ongoing solidarity relationship with the Palestinian people in their struggle for peace with justice in their homeland.

Joint Advocacy Initiative
The East Jerusalem YMCA
YWCA of Palestine

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