This article originally appeared at the Rabbis for Human Rights site where additional images are also available.
Two weeks ago, the orchards at the Tent of Nations, a much beloved Palestinian owned educational and environmental farm outside of Bethlehem dedicated to understanding, reconciliation and peace, were demolished by the Israeli authorities. Despite reportedly having no legal standing, 1500 fruit trees were destroyed during the early hours of the morning on May 19 2014. Valerie Rourke Miller, a volunteer at the farm and a participant of Achvat Amim-Solidarity of Nations, gives her reflections on the incident.
Reflections on an Agricultural MassacreBy: Valerie Rourke Miller
The dogs barked that night. They howled over the sounds of a mechanized destruction as the sun began to rise over the hills of Palestine. No one thought much of it, as they slept through the racket. The barking they had grown accustomed to, sleeping snugly in their caves at The Tent of Nations.
The Tent of Nations farm lies a bit south of Bethlehem on a hill top surrounded by Israeli settlements. The rocky, sloped fields are not only the sight of Daher’s Vineyard Farm, but also house the growth of hope, education, and resistance. The 100 acres cultivates olive trees, fruit trees, and grapevines, but also works as an educational hub for local adolescents and international activists. Since 1991, the land has been under the threat of Israel’s seizure.
That morning, as the family and residential volunteers shared coffee, a phone call brought in the news of what the dogs had been barking at. Down in the valley four fields lay in ruins, the bulldozer tracks fresh on the newly leveled earth. Yesterday, these fields had stood bursting with ripening fruit. In fact, it would be the first season these trees would bear fruit after years of cultivation. Now, they were only mass graves.
The destruction of these fields serves as a greater metaphor for the oppression in Palestine. The educational work of the Tent of Nations is based on the principles of understanding, tolerance, and respectful coexistence. Such work is in vain if their oppressor does not hold these same principles. By destroying these fields, Israel has trampled on the hope that there will soon be solidarity among nations.
Injustice such as this happens every day in Palestine, and all over the world. However, we cannot lose hope, and we cannot give up, for that is letting hatred win. Instead we must take responsibility, and fight just a bit harder for the rights of Palestinians, and of all human beings.
READ: Update on the current situation at the Tent of Nations
Valerie Rourke Miller is a volunteer at the Tent of a Nations and a participant of Achvat Amim- Solidarity of Nations, 5 month Jerusalem based program for young adults focusing on volunteer work, leadership development, humanistic Judaism and language learning.
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