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Olive picking and community action

Friday 30 October 2015

Saturday 17th October was one of those days that will stay in our memory forever. In a region where everything, even the olive harvest is politicized, it was very moving to see the Palestinian and Jewish pupils of the primary school picking olives together, in a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. The sun was shining and the air was scented with the delicious smell of fresh olives just picked from the trees. Meanwhile, members of the village came together to clean the school grounds and other public areas like the basketball court, the sports hall and the volunteers’ house. After their work, everyone shared a delicious lunch at the Guest House.

These community activities emphasized the importance of living together while sharing the land and its treasures peacefully, despite the current political tensions.

A correspondent for the Palestinian webzine Bokra.net interviewed some of the participants to learn their reactions to the current violence sweeping the region. Many of these mentioned that the violence can only be understood in terms of the causes that gave rise to it, such as the lack of hope within Palestinian society, the lack of movement on peace negotiations, the expansion of settlements, religious provocations issuing from leaders, and the prevailing atmosphere of racism. They said that now is a time to strengthen our determination and remind the world that a different way, based on equal coexistence, mutual respect and sharing of responsibility is possible. It has been the basis of our community since it was founded in the 1970s.

In one of the interviews, Eyas Shbeta says that the current crisis is "not the worst we have seen". The fact that the village has weathered wars, intifadas and an ice-age of political intransigence, while continuing to expand its educational work and welcome in many new members, is proof enough that Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom’s model of cooperation and sharing is the best hope for a peaceful future in our region.

For more opinions see the transcript of the Bokra.net article, listen to the interviews and see more media reports here.

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