As olive trees know neither religious nor territorial boundaries and bear fruit even under occupation, and with the annual olive harvest season commencing in Palestine, the World Council of Churches (WCC) launched 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.
The objective of the initiative is to express solidarity and raise public awareness of the constraints and injustices Palestinians endure, along with continuous threats, harassments and vandalism of their land and property, said WCC in a press statement.
“The olive harvest is highly significant for the Palestinian communities of the West Bank. It brings people together in a joyful and festive mood around one of their most important traditional sources of income. Harvesting under safe and peaceful conditions is critical for the lives and livelihoods of Palestinian farmers and their families,” says interim WCC general secretary Ioan Sauca.
The WCC invited all member churches, partners and people of good will to join the initiative and come together in prayer for peace and justice, and a rich olive harvest, said the press release.
While farmers are busy bringing in their harvests, traditionally this is also a time to celebrate and be grateful for the fruits of life that the olive trees provide, added the WCC. What makes this year different is that restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the absence of onsite accompaniers since March, has compounded the vulnerability of Palestinian communities in the occupied territories.
Still, the WCC Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI) and its partners remain firmly committed to promoting peace and justice for Palestinians living under occupation. The situation on ground for vulnerable communities will continue to be monitored and communicated, while physical accompaniment will be resumed as soon as restrictions are lifted, said the press release.
“The olive harvest season provides an opportunity to once again remind the world about the hardships and injustices the Palestinian people face under occupation. In a time dominated by concerns around COVID-19, this initiative sends a clear signal that the Palestinian people are not forgotten and that the Christian fellowship will continue to raise its voice against oppression and violations of human rights. It is a vital part of our Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace,” Sauca explains.
The olive harvest initiative is launched in close cooperation with ecumenical partners worldwide, as well as local churches and faith communities. It begins on 14 October across digital channels.