We will be updating this site with our experiences and reflections as a group during our trip to Palestine/Israel in February 2016. We covet your prayers as we embark on this journey and hope that our hearts, eyes, and ears will truly be open to what is in store for us. A little more about what we’re doing in addition to visiting the holy sites…
“KEEP HOPE ALIVE” is a peacemaking mission project initiated in 2008 by three Northern California presbyteries. Since then others have joined this collaboration with our historic Holy Land mission partners — YMCA of East Jerusalem and YWCA of Palestine –in a joint advocacy program to further education, hope, justice, and peace in Palestine and Israel. They send groups to Israel/Palestine two times a year: in February to plant olive trees and in October to harvest olives. For more information see http://www.JAI-PAL.org. The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is also a partner and supporter of these educational trips. This trip is being led by two members of the IPMN Steering Committee.
Our presence and participation in the olive tree planting season gives the Palestinians hope and assistance in continuing to non-violently resist the illegal Israeli occupation. The Palestinian women, children, and men are committed to rebuilding their society and infrastructure without the use of violence. But Palestinian agriculture and well-being has been severely hampered by repressive Israeli policies (roadblocks, street closures, confiscation of agricultural lands for “security reasons”), as well as allowing repeated attacks and harassment by Israeli settlers. Construction of the Apartheid Wall has cut wide swathes through family farms and orchards where the farmers have lived for generations and many no longer have access to their trees. Thousands of acres of farmland have been destroyed and more than 700,000 olive trees have been uprooted since 2000 by the Israeli Army.
While we know the trees we will plant and the lessons we’ll learn on this trip will not bring peace tomorrow, we hope that it will be a step in the right direction and lead to a better world for everyone someday.