Page 30 - Presbyterian Connection
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FALL 2021
 JAI Olive Tree Campaign: Keep Hope Alive
   By International Ministries
The olive tree is a symbol of peace, wisdom, prosperity and happiness. For many, including Palestinians, it is also an ancient source of basic live- lihood and nutrition. However, since 2001, Israel, through its military and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, has uprooted, burnt and destroyed hundreds of thousands of olive trees belonging to Palestinian farmers in order to expand settlements, build roads and build walls. Most of these trees were hundreds and thousands of years old.
In response, the East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI) launched the Olive Tree Campaign in 2002. They invited par tner churches and organi-
zations around the world to sponsor an olive tree for USD $20 (CAD $30). Sponsorship covers the cost of the young plant, transfers, wood sticks and plastic covers distributed with the trees, the production and distribu- tion of plaques with sponsors’ names placed in each planted field, JAI ad- ministration costs and other miscel- laneous implementation costs of the project. Two-year-old, solid, young plants, in agriculture tubes are used in order to optimize survival potential.
In the first year of the campaign, 2,000 olive saplings were distributed among farmers. Since then, the cam- paign has helped 15,000 Palestin- ian households plant 200,000 olive trees. This sign of solidarity and sup- port has allowed Palestinian farmers to continue to stay on their land and earn a living. It has strengthened their resilience and kept alive their hope for a better future.
Maher Salem Hasan from Jorit Al- Shamaa village, south of the Bethle- hem area, is one of many Palestinian farmers who has received support from the Olive Tree Campaign. His land is next to an Israeli bypass road controlled by the Israeli military. Even though he faces constant threat and harassment, he is determined to maintain his land. “They do not al- low us to rehabilitate the water well and we cannot use it to collect water. Neither are we allowed to build stone wall cladding panels. And they keep
harassing us. Every time we get a tractor to cultivate our land, the Is- raeli army confiscates it. We will re- main (steadfast) in this land no mat- ter what they do and with freedom we will live on it. What needs one year, let it be three-four years. The most important thing is that we maintain our land and the field remains planted while we keep eating from its fruits.”
In 2022, the Olive Tree Campaign will celebrate its 20th anniversary. To mark this special occasion, the organizers hope to plant 40,000 olive trees with the help of support- ers. In asking partners to promote this campaign, Nidal Abu Zuluf, Director of Joint Advocacy Initiative, said, “All the indicators show that we can make it, especially since we have information from partners that they have already allocated some 25,000 trees. I hope you can jointly with all the OTC partners worldwide realize this goal. Thank you for your contin- ued support and solidarity.”
The celebration will include col- lecting and distributing olive trees to eligible farmers, organizing an international Olive Tree Planting Ac- tivity (Feb. 5–14, 2022), hosting five
Olive trees planted in the Bethlehem area.
international youth delegations to participate in planting activities and organizing an international olive pick- ing program, Oct. 15–24, 2022.
The Presbyterian Church in Canada has been suppor ting this life-giving campaign since 2018. Donations are sent every January in time for the planting season. Since 2018, PCC congregations, mission groups and individual donors have sponsored 1,002 olive trees. These donations have helped Palestinian farmers like
Maher Salem Hasan and his family protect their land and keep hope alive! If you would like to be part of this campaign, donations can be made by sending a cheque to the PCC’s national office designated to the olive tree campaign or online at
For more information about the project, contact Lily Ko, International Ministries Program Coordinator at or 1-800-619- 7301 ext. 254.
 Stories of Mission: Living Faith
Read stories of people from Canada and around the world sharing God’s love, hope, peace and justice with those around them. Each of the nine stories includes a scriptural reection, discussion questions, hymn suggestions and a prayer. Share them in study groups, newsletters, sermons or on social media.

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