19 May 2011 | International Solidarity MovementWith the creation of Israel in 1948, four hundred and eighteen Palestinian villages were wiped out and destroyed, displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinian people from homes they had lived in for generations. This year on May 17, in further commemoration of the Nakba (the Catastrophe), the ISM joined the Palestinian organisation Green Palestine in planting olive trees in the village of Al Tayba, near Jenin in the north of the West Bank. After each tree was planted a laminated tag with the name of each individual village was tied to a branch.
Arwad and Fakreh Adiri, two Palestinian activists for the Green Palestine, put together a schedule of events over the Nakba period, which included 63 horses (standing for 63 years of exile) riding to Jenin, 418 bicyclists wearing the names of the 418 villages cycling for 3 kilometres to the centre of Jenin and an Ambulance alarm sounding during a 63 second silence in which the whole of Jenin observed.
ISM talked with Arwad, one of the organizers of the event.
What has been the aim of today?
To tell the young people that these 418 villages existed. The Palestinian people are patient enough to wait to go back home. We chose Al Tayba as it is next to the 1948 border, the wall has split this village so half of it is in Palestine and the other half is in Israel, leaving families cut off from each other.
This is just the beginning, we are planning to turn this into Haifa’s garden, we will invite other districts in Palestine to come and visit and also put an information board in French, German and English to tell this story so that we raise awareness in the international community.
What is the significance of planting trees?
Olive trees are the strongest trees in Palestine, they last for hundreds of years. This is to indicate that our roots will remain in Palestine, we are going deep in the ground and we will stand tall.
What do you think the future of Palestine will be?
That’s a very hard question but I will be honest… as long as we have internationals coming to Palestine, we see the light coming close. And I don’t mean governments I mean regular people like you. We feel like we have solidarity which is more important to us, it will take longer this way ´[to bring about change] but finally I’m sure we can and we will have change, Inshallah.
I am for having Israel as a state, but living all together. Don’t steal my stuff, let’s share it or leave it alone. Look at this water issue, settlers use 80% of the water available to Palestine and the rest of us have just 20% because they dig their wells deeper. They are stealing. It is not fair.