My Turn: Bulldozers leveled a dream of Mideast peace

Last modified: 5/29/2014 9:21:34 AM
At the beginning of this week, Israeli Defense Force bulldozers rolled onto the Palestinian farm of Daoud Nassar near Bethlehem in Palestine, where they uprooted and buried approximately 1,500 apricot and apple trees. Four generations of Daoud’s family had lived and farmed this land for almost a century. The family has deeds of ownership for the land dating back to the Ottoman Empire, through British rule, and during the time when the land was part of Jordan.

In the Palestinian territories, this type of demolition of farms and orchards is not an unusual occurrence. Oxfam and other internet sites report that approximately 800,000 Palestinian olive trees and thousands of other fruit trees have been destroyed since 1967 by the Israeli Defense Forces or Israeli settlers living on occupied Palestinian land.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that in 2012, during an eight month period, 7,500 Palestinian trees were damaged or destroyed by Israeli settlers.

The destruction of this particular farm is particularly saddening given that not only was it a farm but was a center for teaching peace and nonviolence. The farm, called Tent of the Nations, appears to have genuinely attempted to be that broad tent for all people, including Israelis, who wanted to unite around a dream of peace. Next to the entrance of the farm there is a large stone with an inscription which reads, “We Refuse to be Enemies.”

(Gray Fitzgerald lives in Concord.)

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