This is an essay that I wrote for Arutz7 (IsraelNN.Com) under the title "Harvest of Terror."
It explains the whole "olive harvest" idiocy for anyone who has not been in Israel and seen this first hand, as I have.
By Michelle Nevada
There is a current and perennial fight that happens every year in Israel, and if you don’t know the facts, you may be lulled into the idea that it is simply a agricultural dispute. It goes way beyond agriculture. The annual “olive tree” problem is a significant issue, not just in the rural areas of Israel, especially in Samaria, but for every person who cares about the future of Israel.
Please don’t believe the claims of clueless television reporters and bleeding-heart left-wing people. It is not a case of “those settlers” destroying the olive trees in a mean-spirited attempt to make the “poor Palestinian people” go without an income or food or a job. Anyone who believes those reports has not only bitten at the bait of the Arabs, but has swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. The war of the olive trees is not about olive trees at all. It’s about land and safety.
Olive may be an ancient symbol of peace, but today they are more a symbol of an unchecked Arab land grab. This is how it works: An Arabs come upon an old olive tree near a settlement. The tree, they know, is evidence of how long someone has lived in a place and who owns the land. Most older trees near settlements were planted by Jews, but some of the younger trees may have sprung up from an olive that rolled down a hill.
A lot of people, when picturing this scene, think the olives trees are growing in carefully defined orchards in nice straight lines, but most are not. In fact, unless you know what an olive tree looks like, you might think it was part of the scrub that dots the land of Samaria.
A lot of the trees were planted just outside of small Jewish towns in Samaria in order to define the boundaries of the settlement areas, but some trees are much older—and have been passed down from family member to family member for generations. If you don’t believe the Torah, or the thousands of architectural landmarks that dot the “territories” of Israel as places of constant Jewish habitation, you can turn to these living testaments of family ownership of the land—a fact that has not escaped the notice of the Arab population.
Some trees are marked in to show who owns them, but in many areas it is just a matter of local knowledge who owns the tree—after all, it is on that person’s land, or in their back yard, or it is on the block of land where their grandparents used to live. This doesn’t matter to the Arabs, though.
The Arabs are intent upon proving they own the land—even though they do not. They will mark every small stick of olive tree that pokes from the ground, and they will mark the trees that are the ownership of others as well. If the tree is marked, they destroy or erase the mark. Slowly, they attempt to mark every tree near a settlement in an effort to show that the trees belong to them. The closer the trees are, the better—because those trees can be allowed to grow large and bushy, providing perfect cover for terrorist activity against the Jewish population.
Then, claiming the “orchard” is theirs, the Arabs use the stolen and newly marked olive trees as an excuse to inch close to Jewish neighborhoods where they begin the surveillance for terrorist actions. With easily duped Westerners and soft-hearted ignorant Israeli college students as their accomplices, the Arabs make harvests of terror, reaping Jewish lives and security along with their stolen olives.
They also use these “orchards” to claim ownership of land blocks in strategic areas near Jewish communities. If you have ever been to Samaria, you will see that the Jews live on the hilltops, and the Arabs live in the valleys. It seems strange, at first. After all, the Jews are leaving all the fertile green land for the
Arabs to farm, while they struggle to make rocky and thorn-filled hillsides bloom. But, when you realize that the Jews are there to protect Israel, you understand.
Those who live in Samaria chose to live on the hilltops where Arabs could launch rockets at large cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. When you understand this, you understand why these so-called “innocent” Arabs from the fertile river valleys would trudge up a rocky hillside to claim an olive tree next to a Jewish home on a hillside. They don’t want olives, they want Jewish lives.
After they establish “ownership” of their stolen olive trees, they claim the land for their own. Next, they put simple stone structures there, then homes, and then they build a settlement. The closer they can get to a Jewish population, the better. After all, the Jews are no threat to them—but they are a great threat to the Jews.
It is strange that Secretary of State Rice, President Bush, and the UN are screaming about “illegal outposts,” but never seem to see the huge explosion of Arab homes, communities, and mosques suddenly growing up hillsides near Jewish neighborhoods—all foreshadowed by the stealing of olive trees.
This is why, when I hear that the “settlers are destroying the Palestinian’s olive trees,” or that the “settlers are throwing rocks at the poor Palestinians who are trying to harvest their olives,” I shake my head in disbelief and anger that any news agency would listen to this fiction and believe it.
But, I guess if someone is sitting in an office in downtown Tel Aviv or New York or Chicago, and has never seen an olive tree in Samaria, he might not understand the significance of an olive tree, and he might think that this is just a petty squabble between neighbors. But it’s not. It’s deadly serious business.
When I hear that the people of Elon Moreh or Itamar or Kedumim have destroyed olive trees, I know they have done it out of desperation. It says in Torah that we cannot destroy a fruit tree. These are religious people. The only reason they would go against a Torah prohibition is to protect life. I know that when they chose to destroy an olive tree it is to protect the lives of Jews in those towns. This is not about preventing an olive harvest, it is about preventing a harvest of terror.
So, the next time you are approached by a well-meaning soul who wants to help “rebuild Palestinian olive orchards” in the name of “peace,” or you hear of a mixed up group of people like the Kibbutz Movement thinking that planting olive trees for Arabs is a good thing, please pass on this lesson. I hope they may be educated into understanding what a dangerous thing they are doing. But, if they still don’t get the message, we can still offer them an olive branch, just to be sure.