Palestine, the Olive Tree and its Pain

Palestine, The Olive Tree and its Pain. Angela Glendenning talked with slides about the situation in Palestine. She had visited the area with a group run by the YMCA and YWCA based there. Over 1.4 million Olive Trees have been destroyed, affecting people's livelihoods and she launched the North Staffordshire Olive Tree Campaign that both plants and helps to fund new trees. This Olive Tree campaign soon became part of Sumud Palestine, inspired by Mohammed Mukhaimar, a Palestinian from Gaza, who ended up in Stoke, unable to return to his homeland. The word 'sumud' stands for steadfast perseverance. He is a skilled and experienced psychotherapist, having worked in the West Bank and Gaza, where so many people are affected by the oppression. Sumud Palestine sponsors 6 experienced psychologists who conduct training workshops for the Palestinian Counselling Centre in Ramallah. They also support the Palestinian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy, recently formed and registered as a member of the corresponding European Association. It is very easy for mental health workers there to suffer compassion fatigue, burnout and secondary trauma. People suffer economically, physically and mentally from the separation wall, checkpoints (often having to be present at 4am in order to be at work by 8am), watch towers, military zones, and administrative detention. In addition, the best roads are for Israelis only, home owners have to pay for the cost of demolition, children as young as 11 are prosecuted, people can get 10yrs in prison for flying the Palestinian flag and there are frequent early morning raids. In 1917, Lord Balfour declared the "Her Majesty's Government views with favour a homeland for the Jewish people.... it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." The centenary of this declaration will be marked on 2 November 2017. Israeli historians who have excavated the archives have demonstrated that Israel's intention since the 1940s has been to rid the land of Palestinians. The Zionist movement played a big part in the process and Israel, once established, began by destroying 400 whole towns and villages. One attempt by the UN to bring about peaceful coexistence was rejected by both Jews and Arabs. During the preparation of the Oslo Peace Accords in the 1990s, Israel doubled its illegal settlements and it is still expanding them. This, together with brutal military rule eventually sparked the second intifada (uprising). In 2002, Arab governments were ready to recognise Israel within the pre-1967 borders and both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas indicated a readiness to do the same. There are groups within Israel that oppose government policy, including academics and rabbis. For example, the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions. A group of ex-Israeli soldiers formed in 2011 to expose what is really going on; they call their campaign 'Breaking the Silence'. There is also the international Balfour Project, campaigning to remind people of the promise to protect the rights of the Palestinian people and they have produced a short film outlining Britain's role between 1917 and 1948; look up . A campaign by Israeli scholars is trying to bring home to people that Israel's policy is one of ethnic cleansing. The Palestinians continue to ask "Why must we pay the price of the Holocaust in Europe ?". The discussion raised further points and questions. One said it was simply the result of theology, but others thought it much more complicated than that. Another thought the talk was somewhat biassed in favour of the Palestinians, to which Angela stressed she was in favour of Israelis and Palestinians living peacefully side by side. Further recommended websites are: The Empire Files: How Palestine became colonized The Uprooted - A Tale of Palestinian farmers Burning Conscience: Israeli Soldiers Speak Out ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Nigel Jones Oct.'16

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