A desperate need for an olive branch


This isn’t a political blog and I usually keep my strong views to other forums but I can’t keep silent about what is happening in the Middle East at present. I’ve written before about my concern for the lives and livelihoods of the Palestinian people. When this blog was in another place, four years ago, I posted a short series on the olive tree and its products, ending with these words:

I couldn’t finish this series of posts on the olive without mentioning something which has been of great concern to me for many years – the destruction of Palestinian olive groves by the Israeli army. On the pretext of protecting illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine the army is uprooting thousands of olive trees and making it difficult for Palestinian growers to harvest their crops from others. This deprives families of their livelihood and of decades and even centuries of investment and time which these trees have taken to grow to maturity…..

I can only hope that the election of the new US president may lead to an improvement in the situation in Palestine and the wider Middle East and an end to the policy of subjecting a symbol of peace to an act of war.

Sadly, that US president has just been re-elected and still nothing has improved for the people of Palestine. And now, in an unequal use of violence (which as a pacifist I cannot support on either side, but which is dreadfully unbalanced in this situation), the people of Gaza are suffering bombardment and the threat of a ground war. On the Guardian website today, a resident of Gaza explains the difference for ordinary, innocent people. In Israel there is fear, but in Palestine – for children who know little but are learning terror fast – there is the reality of death:

“We Palestinians don’t talk about fear, we talk about death. Our rockets scare them; their rockets kill us. We have no bomb shelters, we have no sirens, we have nowhere we can take our children and keep them safe. They are scared. We are dying.”

As I write this, talks are continuing to try to get a ceasefire, but at best this will be a temporary respite. A long term solution is needed and I fear that those in power, especially the US president, are unwilling to bring this about. Today I’ve discovered a blog – A Second Glance – that gives an informed view of what is happening in Gaza today and the hopes, or otherwise, for peace:

Should the truce hold, it is only a temporary bandaid on a festering wound; the occupation still exists, there is still an illegal closure of the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip remain seperated from each other. Without a just solution to end this violence, this will be ‘just another escalation’ of violence in the Gaza Strip that took the lives of an X-number of Palestinians, and that will be followed by other ones.

Please do whatever you can to publicise and oppose the terror that is taking place now in Gaza, where young children are being killed, injured or, if they’re lucky, forced to take shelter from the bombs in crowded conditions in schools and other buildings. There are campaigns and petitions to sign, vigils and demonstrations around the world, in France as well as in the UK and many other countries.