As this year’s olive harvest season in the Holy Land comes to an end, the World Council of Churches (WCC) airs a closing webinar, entitled “Uprooting identities or planting just peace?”
Speakers candidly share both hopes and concerns about the situation for Palestinians in the Holy Land. The webinar is the conclusion of a WCC Olive Harvest Initiative that highlights the spiritual, cultural and economic significance of the olive harvest, and the challenges faced by Palestinian communities in that context.
In his opening remarks, WCC interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca reiterates the WCC’s commitment to a just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis: “The story of the olive trees is the story of all people in the Middle East whose culture, history, identity is threatened to be uprooted. It is the story of Palestinian people today. The world needs to hear and see this story so that silence is broken. One cannot build lasting peace without hearing the truth.”
Bishop Hosam Naoum of the Episcopal Church in The Holy Land elaborates on the biblical and spiritual importance of the olive tree, which he calls “the evergreen tree, symbolizing life, sustainability and growth.”
Rabbi Raanan Mallek of Rabbis for Human Rights reflects on how to begin to plant a just peace: “Palestinians are the people of this land who have planted the olive trees over centuries,” says Mallek. “The land remembers, it requires justice to be done and it belongs only to God. It is up to him to give it to who he wishes. How he decides who the land is given to is whether or not we stand up and are just in the way that we act towards the other. It is closed minds that have kept two peoples apart for over a century. We can seek a way to change that; salaam and shalom between Palestinians and Israelis must be achieved. The core of what this land is all about is that there should be justice and equality for all.”
In her closing words, Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC central committee, thanks all those around the world who have helped mobilize and highlight the deep meaning of the olive harvest. "As we now look ahead, the efforts for peace for all people in the region will continue unabated," Abuom concludes.