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Far'ata, 29 September, 2005: Forging unity of purpose, mutual respect, friendship.

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Far'ata, a tiny village some 8 km south-west of nablus, surrounded by olive groves.
 
Once the neighbouring ILLEGAL settlement of Khavat-Gilad is removed, the people of Far'ata will not need Israelis and "Internationals" to accompany them to pick their olives.
 
[All the Israeli settlements on occupied territories are illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Stature. Some are ILLEGAL even according to the Government of Israel (that does nothing to remove them, in spite of repeated promisses to the US president and rulings of the supreme court)].

Area map. Havat Gilad is near the site marked as "Moshe Zar's Mansion".

Was (now prime minister) Sharon involved in establishing this ILLEGAL settlement?
זר היה פעם ידיד גדול של שרון. עד היום קשה לו לדבר נגדו. ביום שני ניאות לספר את הסיפור הבא: "כשהחלטתי לבנות כאן בית שאף מנוף לא יצליח להזיז, קניתי את שתי הגבעות. הסתובבו אתי פה שני אנשים - אורי בר-און ואריק שרון, מפקדי ואהוב נפשי. כשאמרתי שכוונתי לבנות את ביתי על הגבעה הזאת, אריק אמר לי: 'אתה תבנה את הבית שם' (זר מצביע על הגבעה שעליה ניצב ביתו היום); על הגבעה הזאת (היום רמת גלעד) תהיה שכונה של קרני שומרון".

Background
 
April 15, 2005
"The Israeli government (aided by the current U.S. administration, which has changed decades of U.S. foreign policy stands vis-`-vis the settlement issue by promising Ariel Sharon that Israel can hold on to major population centers in the West Bank) has pursued a policy of clouding the issue of the settlements in several major ways. One, it uses the term illegal outpost to differentiate between government-sanctioned settlements and those which have sprouted up more independently. Such nomenclature implies that a) some settlements are legal (as already noted, they are all illegal according to international law) and b) the Israeli government is doing something to rein in these outposts. However, such outposts, some including only four people, automatically receive electricity, water, and Israeli army protection. The Sasson report, commissioned by the Israeli government, recently revealed the extent to which the government has supported and sanctioned settlement activity, even in the case of the outposts. Some of these outposts have committed egregious crimes, such as the Havat Ma on outpost near the Palestinian village of Tuwani, from where masked attackers brutally assaulted Christian Peacemaker Teams volunteers Chris Brown and Kim Lamberty, both of whom are U.S. citizens, in September 2004 while they were accompanying Palestinian children on their way to school. The outpost of Havat Gilad, in the Nablus district near the settlements of Yitzhar and Qadumim and the Palestinian villages of Jit and Farata, is one caravan, 4 people, and has been removed by the Israeli army twice, with no success. It is still there. Nothing but this one caravan and an old school bus, and yet extensive army coordination is required for Palestinian farmers to tend to their fields, as they are often attacked by the settlers. I went to Farata with a small group organized by Rabbis for Human Rights in order to provide some degree of protection to the farmers while they plowed their land. We were also supposed to be with the farmers in Jit, but the army said that they could only provide protection (from the four settlers in one caravan) in once place, and so the farmers from Jit were told to go back home, they were not allowed on their fields that day."

Some of last year's reports:
 
8 Nov 2004
"Today was a difficult day. Our delegation and the people of Faraata barely managed to pick olives from 3 trees. We have also received information about olive trees cut down in the places we are planned to harvest tomorrow (and near As-Sawia only Israelis are allowed to harvest). We are celebrating victory near Havat Gilad today, yet I can't forget that if the Palestinians' claims and measurments would have been accepted two years ago, last year's crop wouldn't have been lost and this year's results could have been 3 tons of olive-oil, not only one. However, seeing the smiles on the faces of farmers who have thought their lands are lost for the last 3 years, and hearing the shout "To Work!" coming out from the chests of Palestinians and Israelis together, make it worth it."
9 Nov 2004
"After yesterday's events, olives in Faraata were stolen during the night. At the end of the day a settler from Havat Gilad approached the group of harvesters with an iron pole, after threatening, together with his wife, the harvesters during the day. The police intervened in the first case, but in the evening only a military vehicle which arrived by chance prevented the escalation of the situation.
Tomorrow we're returning to Faraata and As-Sawie near Havat Gilad..."
 
November 10, 2004
"... today the RHR delegation harvesting in Faraata was attacked by settlers from Havat Gilad. Mohie Hasson, field coordinator, was attacked physically..."
 
23 November 2004
"... Soldiers from the Israeli army together with an armed man from the nearby settlement were waiting for us towards the top of the hill and we were informed that we could go no further. They pointed to the mud track where they had parked their army jeeps and said that this was the boundary line beyond which the Palestinians could not cross. The soldiers pointed to the trees that we had passed on our way up and said that we could pick the olives from the trees there. Well, that would be fine, but those olives had already been picked and the reason that we were there was to help with the olive trees closer to the settlement. I’m sure that I don’t need to spell it out, but we are talking about access to olive trees on land that belongs to the Palestinian farmers. Land that they are being told they cannot go to because it is too close to an illegal Israeli settlement..."

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The Olive harvest this year is poor. The bad news is that there will be scarcity of olive oil. The good news (for the producers) is that the prices will be high. They already are.

?פעמי משיח

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It appears that the statement made by the army to the supreme court, promising that it will cease cooperating with the illegal settlers in harassing the olive-picking Palestinians, is (for the time being?) implemented.

We had a lengthy discussion with two of the soldiers, who had a very distorted perception of the history of the Israeli occupation of the west-bank and who kept referring to the Bible as the document that justifies each and every attrocity towards the Palestinians. The ideas of peaceful coexistance (whether within the framework of the TSS or that of the OSS) and of international legitimacy, were entirely foreign to them.
 
[TSS = Two-state solution;
OSS = One-state solution].
 
On the other hand, we were successful in persuading their officer that we would be happier returning to the village (to meet our transportation) without him "escorting" us. We were visiting friends and didn't need his "protection".

With our host and two of his grandchildren:

Leftmost: Orly, Columbia graduate in Yiddish

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It is for the sake of this young friend that our joint struggle is worth-while:

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A lesson in Chemistry: We were shown some pieces of soap, home-made from olive oil and caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). On our trip back I had an eager (or perhaps captive) audience for a talk about the constitution of oil, (introducing the concepts of alcohol, glycerol, organic acid, ester, etc.), as well as on the surface chemistry involved in the interaction between soap and oily materials.  

Suzy, friend and mentor on peace activism, non-violence, containing one's anger:

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Today's mission to Far'ata was organized by Rabbis for Human Rights (רבנים שומרי משפט).
From a recent email by Rabbis for Human Rights:
"The Olive Harvest season has started. Please let us know when you
wish to join us (period or dates). We remind you this is intensive daily work from early morning to dusk. Fridays we return two hours before Shabbat.
For details and registration call Diana at our office 02-5637731.

AN EVENING WITH HAIM GURI AND PROFESSOR AVI RAVITZKI AND OTHERS ON OUR RELATION TO NON-JEWS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE OLIVE HARVEST.  Congregation Yedidya at 19:00 on Sunday, October 16h.  Please call the office for details."
I have already expressed my belief that their head, Rabbi Arik Asherman, is one of the thirty-six righteous (למד-וו הצדיקים).
I have yet to be convinced that the other thirty-five really exist.

From a recent email by Rabbis for Human Rights:
"The Olive Harvest season has started. Please let us know when you
wish to join us (period or dates). We remind you this is intensive daily
work from early morning to dusk. Fridays we return two hours before Shabbat.
For details and registration call Diana at our office 02-5637731.

AN EVENING WITH HAIM GURI AND PROFESSOR AVI RAVITZKI AND OTHERS ON OUR
RELATION TO NON-JEWS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE OLIVE HARVEST.  Congregation
Yedidya at 19:00 on Sunday, October 16h.  Please call the office for details."

Olive harvest begins on Wednesday, September 28th. We expect intensive work from September 28th - October 3rd (The eve of Rosh HaShana and Ramadan) and then a letup until October 10th.  Many farmers will wait until November (after Ramadan).  The first harvest will be with the farmers of Farata near Khavat Gilad (An area where there was olive theft and attacks last year.)

For all who have missed the dialogue, the work and/or the mitzvah, we will see you soon.