Why It’s Important to Participate in Planting Trees in the Occupied Territories ~ by Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann (@rhreng)

Rabbis for Human Rights |  Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann ‏| 08.01.13


Rabbi Yechiel Greinman returns from planting in Mureir and Sinjil with new insights into the contribution it makes to Israeli society. Also, we bring you a wonderful letter we received from Gila Avni, who joined us for the planting trip.

By: Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann

Last Thursday Rabbis for Human Rights took a small group planting. For me it was a remedial experience, since the previous Thursday in Qusra we were confronted by violence – by the settlers, by Palestinians and the army. We have unfortunately become familiar with stone throwing, tear gas and coordination between the army and settlers. But our goal was to intervene in this scripted scenario and calm things down by panting 200 trees.

Read more: On the attacks on the farmers of Jalud

This time was different. The day passed without incident in great weather. Our hosts welcomed us warmly and wholeheartedly, and our feeling was that today we’d made an important contribution to coexistence. We planted trees in two villages – Mureir and Sinjil – a small number in each place, but a symbolic step; we planted twenty in each village and left the rest for the farmers there to plant later. We are confident they will take care of the saplings. Planting is very important, especially since the Israeli army has not assumed responsibility for protecting Palestinian farmers. According to a Supreme Court ruling regarding Mureid, the army must protect the farmers’ entrance and exit from their farmlands, but that has only partially happened. All the while their Jweish settler neighbors continue to steal their lands.

We will continue planting

As part of the planting we also left a number of saplings for a third village in which settlers had uprooted trees recently. So far we have planted about 850 trees in five villages, of which only about 60 have since been uprooted as far as we know. We will continue planting as necessity, budget and weather dictate. We will also, of course, plant in honor of Tu Bishvat. Since that date is a Saturday, we will do so on the 25th of January. Please save the date – you’re welcome to join us. Contact us at the office: info@rhr.israel.net and register for the trips.

Wishing you peace, love, brotherhood and friendship,
Rabbi Yechiel

In the photo: Planting in MureirIn the photo: Planting in Mureir

Join in RHR’s planting | Gila Avni
Exactly a year ago, on Tu Bishvat, I joined in the first planting trip of my life in the Occupied Territories. I chose to join Rabbis for Human Rights after I had heard do much about their wonderful activities. That day we came to a village located not far (unfortunately) from one of the hostile settlements. The night before, settlers had sprayed graffiti on one of the cars in the village and on the walls of houses, slogans and provocations directed at Muslims.

As soon as we got to the village a group of soldiers approached us from the settlement. Before we’d had a chance to plant more than two trees, we were ordered to leave – an area that of course belongs to the village farmers, of course using the recurring claim that the area was a closed military zone. To ensure we left immediately, the soldiers took Rabbi Arik Ascheman with them, saying that as soon as we turned the vehicle around he would be released. That difficult experience remains with me, and prompted me to join this year’s trip, which proved a healing experience for me and all those who participated. Under a benevolent winter sun we planted some of the trees we brought and received a warm welcome, abundant words of Torah and a feast fit for a king, including salads and pitot prepared by none other than the mother of the clan.

It is hard to put into words the feelings of satisfaction and enjoyment I got from planting those olive trees, this time without disruption. I hope these trees live long and help fix all the injustice! Thank you for all your incredible work!

Gila Avni

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