The Olive Tree Essay

The Olive Tree Essay

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The olive tree is more than a tree. It is more than wood and leaves; to the Palestine they are the Palestinians themselves. Olive trees are not the grandest of trees, not the tallest, strongest, or most beautiful but they have the utmost importance and significance to Palestine. It is an economic staple and the center of the holiday of harvest season in the fall. Their origins begin between 3150-1200 B.C.E. but are traced to Palestine starting around 8000 B.C.E. However the true beginnings lie with the farmers of Palestine.
The terraced orchards of Palestine have been lovingly and dedicatedly tended for centuries. These terraces upon which olive trees spend their years are built by hand and circle the hills and mountains of Palestine. This form of farming demands a lot of care and attention to insure the soil continues to hold and the land does not erode. This practice is the continuation of long-lived traditional practices as modern equipment cannot operate on the fragile terraces. The trees that grow here have spent centuries upon the hillsides. Olive trees live to be over 400 years old but many have been recorded at 700 years even as old as 1,000 years of age. Those centuries of life are the result of careful attention provided by families as the trees are passed down through the generations. New trees are often planted for exactly that reason, to be passed down to the next generation. Most often the older farmers are the ones who plant the new trees. The planting is not for economic gain, but of cultural importance. Farmers are guided by the old proverb, “They [past generations] planted so we ate, and we plant so they [future generations] eat,” (Abufarha). It is a practice of reciprocity. Farmers repay the blessings of the p...


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...e also plays a significant role in the economy of Palestine, with olive oil being the second largest import of the country. It has begun to play an even bigger role in the economy, as increasing unemployment has left only the olive trees to provide sustenance for families. Even as Palestinians retreat into their communities to farm their orchards, the orchards are being destroyed; victims of a larger game. Many Jewish settlers believe Palestine is their land and in order to reclaim it the olive trees of Palestine must be removed. A symbol that once stood for peace is now being used to make war. Despite this, the struggle for the olive trees only creates a deeper connection with the tree and the land. The conflict instills an even deeper symbolism within the hearts of Palestinians. The olive tree is more than just a tree. It is a symbol of a people rooted in a land.

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