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Palestinian Christian peace worker yearns for courageous leaders

As the WCC olive harvest initiative in 2020 drew to a close in early December, WCC News met with Nora Carmi, a Christian Palestinian who has worked for peace and justice her whole life, to hear her perspective on the situation in the holy land today, and the role of faith in sustaining hope.

A hopeful, but not optimistic Palestinian ecumenist

With olive harvest season coming to an end, life under occupation returns to “normal” for Palestinian communities on the West Bank. Under that “normal,” which means forced displacements and constant fear of threats and harassments, now also looms a threatening Israeli annexation of large chunks of fertile land owned by Palestinian farmers – a move which would “undermine peace and justice and be in direct violation of international law,” according to a joint ecumenical statement by the WCC and other ecumenical organizations earlier this year.  

As olive harvest draws to a close, who is helping the farmers?

Olive farming should be a peaceful activity, but for many Palestinian farmers the harvest season is a time of tension, violent attacks, and destruction of precious olive trees. Farmers in the West Bank of the occupied Palestinian territories face a barrage of such threats from nearby Israeli settlers.

Fr Jamal Khader: “We need to keep hope alive” in Palestine

It is easy to feel despair of the unjust situation for the Palestinians, who are experiencing daily humiliation, annexation of land, growing settlements, land grabbing and poverty. This year Palestine has been illegally occupied for 53 years. But there are also many people in Palestine cultivating hope, faith and love for transforming the situation.

Rev. Jamil Khadir: “Without faith, there is no real hope” in Palestine

Illegal occupation of Palestinian lands has been ongoing for 53 years, imposing deep injustices on the daily life of local communities. In Nablus, in the northern West Bank, many Palestinians know what it can be like to live with settlements close by, not least in the villages around the city, where Palestinian landowners regularly face settler abuse. Yet there are many in the area who persist, in working hard on a daily basis to foster peace and justice. Below, Rev. Jamil Khadir reflects on what this means for him as a local pastor in Nablus.

In Palestine, “God honored this olive tree”

“Just as you cannot live without water, olive oil is the same for us—and the olive tree is our life,” explains a smiling Abu-Issa under an awe-inspiring 13-meter olive tree. Its umbrella of branches extends over the al-Walaja hills, just north of Bethlehem.

“Olive trees are holy signs of peace, older than anyone”

In a mood of hope, solidarity and compassion, the WCC olive harvest initiative continued on Wednesday with a live-streamed public webinar, addressing cultural, socio-economic and spiritual aspects of the olive harvest season in the Holy Land, as well as highlighting the impact of the continuing military occupation of the Palestinian territories.

 

Olive harvest initiative reaffirms commitment to justice and peace in the Holy Land

Olive trees know neither religious nor territorial boundaries and bear fruit even under occupation. With the annual olive harvest season commencing, the WCC launches a global initiative this week, highlighting the spiritual, economic and cultural importance of the olive harvest for Palestinian communities, and witnessing to the impact of the occupation.