Saturday, October 23, 2004

Olive Harvest - part II

It's Saturday. I had to weigh my choices for the Day of Rest. They were to spend it with my cranky complaining family or go olive harvesting with Palestinian. Which would be more day-of-rest-like. I opted for leaving 7:30 to go olive picking. What a surprise. It was a sign from God anyway, I thought, if I woke up at 6:30 am on my day off. Had I not woken up that early, like at a normal hour for a day off like 8:00, I would have taken it as a sign from God not to go. We were a full bus from the start. At mid-point all the people gathered together from Haifa and Tel Aviv at Kfar Qasem and it seemed were we were about 150 people. There were a change of plans as the villages near Nablus/Shechem were berefit of olives. It was useless to go and now we had to find alternative places. We ended up at a place called Zeita - just over the green line. Their fields are over the green line and they had to finish by 2:00 pm today. They had permits to cross over, but the curfew back wasn't good. They needed help. We got off the main road and some began to harvet at a field. I thought how boring this is. I like a village, I like to see the people, I like action, etc. Soon, Hasoun asked for people to help another family. Young people. I went over there to see if I could pass for "young." He didn't throw me out of the line. We were 20 people that I thought would help a family nearby. No. We went off for a 45 minute walk through fields, ravines, saw the barbed wire fence and at one point we overlooked a beautiful valley. We kept on walking and I wondered where the olive groves went. I looked down. Way down the cliff. That's where we were going. No wonder he asked for young people. This was tedious, although the Palestinian woman who wasn't eating or drinking in the heat because of Ramadan made it there without a problem. Don't know how they do it. With helping hands, I, too, made it down the cliff. The whole atmosphere was different. Soldiers watched us from the cliff, but later on they were smiling and chatting with the harvesting villagers, even shaking hands. Apparently they don't have the stress that the other village I went to on Sunday has with the Jewish settlement nearby. Their neighboring Jewish village has good relations with them. so at least that. When we got there to help, the men got on the phone with either friends or relatives and as I understood a bit of Arabic, I understood what they were saying - "Jews had come to help them! From Tel Aviv and even from Jerusalem!" He said "from Jerusalem"
like he was astounded people would come from there to help. Perhaps he thought the Jews in Jerusalem were all religious fanatics who hated Arabs. Who knows. But at least we made them all happy. The women sat with me at one point and said had they known we were coming, they would have brought us food and drink.I'm sure they were embarrassed that they hadn't. "It's ok. It's Ramadan. We brought our own drinks." I told her in a mixture of Hebrew, Arabic and English. But I got through. One of the Palestinian women was holding a very sharp cutting tool. I thought how many Jews would like to see that picture? They'd be scared shitless. It looked like a murder weapon and if she were a wild, Taliban-Jew-hating person, she could have easily hacked away at the 20 of us. But she was just fulfilling the biblical prophecy - and they will beat their swords into plowshares. All the time while she was hackig away at thick branches - very close to me - I thought of that verse. While picking and climbing the olive trees, some of the Israelis were singing a cool mixture of Americana songs - Brother Can You Spare a Dime. And they knew all the words. I was totally impressed. When we were done harvesting we were driven back to the main road by a tractor instead of walking up that monstrous cliff, and I felt like I was on a kibbutz work camp, with everyone laughing and singing. What were they singing? Ukelele Girl. Never heard of the song, but it was cool. We stopped off to pick wild figs and ate them immediately. I was pleased at myself for coming better equipped this time. I wore my hiking boots, brought 2 liters of water, put an ice pack in my thermal bag and wore sunglasses. OK, the shiny socks and makeup were a bit out of place, but I didn't care.


Anonymous said...

I applaud your doing this! We are to help others in any way we can! I do not think it will change the course of history, but it may for some people here and least you are trying...and that should reap some rewards for you personally anyway! And it is joy and celebration isn't it, after such things? Singing!!

apple said...

I'm curious about your views on Sharon's plan to pull out of Gaza. I know there is fierce resistance among some right-wing cronies.. well those more right-wing than Sharon, but what is your outlook? What is your outlook on settlements in general - think you mentioned that you would be classified as a Settler. I guess this is pretty loaded. From what I've gleaned from your writing and beliefs, you don't necessarily support a two-state solution. (I don't either.) What sort of political process would you consider to be necessary to resolve the conflict?

Oh, and with the time left, please elaborate on the meaning of life.