World Social Forum 2012
Several IWPS team mates attended the World Social Forum-Free Palestine. Held November 28-December 1 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, this year’s Forum was historic in nature as it focused solely on Palestine. Activists from all over the globe gathered to learn more about the situation on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza and collaborate on ways to end the illegal Zionist Occupation of Palestine.
Food Sovereignty in Palestine
The World Social Forum-Free Palestine consisted of hundreds of self-organized workshops. Though spread out over 4 days, at least 10 workshops were happening at the same time. It was difficult to choose which workshop to attend. One of the first workshops attended by IWPS concerned the efforts of an organization of Palestinian refugees in Amman to replace Olive trees uprooted by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the West Bank and destroyed during bombing campaigns in Gaza. The Arab Group for the Protection of Nature has planted a million olive trees throughout the West Bank and Gaza.
Their guiding principle of food sovereignty is much more holistic than defined standards of caloric intake. Food sovereignty is the right of people to define their own agricultural, labor, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate the the unique circumstances of the community. True food sovereignty is impossible in Gaza and the West Bank. The theft of land, water and restrictions of usage by the illegal Israeli Occupation defies even the ability of Palestinians to acquire their most basic needs.
The fruit of the olive trees, as well as the labor that goes into raising them has deep significance to the Palestinian people. Raising the trees is an art that is passed down from generation to generation, going back thousands of years. Farmers speak of the Olive trees as their children.
This past Spring when 2,000 olive trees were threatened to be uprooted by the IOF in the Wadi Qana Valley, I interviewed one of the effected farmers.He lives abroad but travels to Palestine twice a year to care for his trees. He said it makes him happy to tend his trees, like a parent is happy to take care for this children. He comes again every year in the fall for the harvest.
The olive harvest is a community activity throughout Palestine. Though the labor is hard, it is a joyful time when villagers work together throughout the day and share communal meals in the evening. IWPS has helped to coordinate international presence during the harvest for many years. International presence is important because farmers and their families often come under attack by Israeli settlers and soldiers, especially those whose farm lands are close to the apartheid wall or the many illegal settlements in the West Bank.
When the Occupation Forces destroy Palestinian olive trees or disprupt the harvest they are not just uprooting a source of food and commerce, but a way of life. Replanting these trees is resistance to the cultural genocide of Palestine the Zionist regime of Israel attempts.
The people who comprise the Arab Group for the Preservation of Nature (AGPN) are Palestinian refugees who live in Amman, unable to visit their occupied homeland. They raise money for the trees and collaborate with Palestinian Agricultural relief Committee, the Palestine Ministry of Agriculture, Union of Agricultural Committees,and the Palestinian Farmers Union. With funds raised by the AGPN groups purchase seedlings from nurseries in the West Bank and Gaza. Thus their work not only replaces trees, but also benefits the Palestinian nursery industry.
IWPS looks forward to continuing the relationships made with the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature!
Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth
Kairos Palestine held several workshops at the WSF. Kairos Palestine is a movement addressing the injustice of the Occupation from a theological perspective. Like liberation theology, born in the darkest night of injustice and repression in Latin America, Kairos Palestine emphasizes the Biblical call for justice to denounce the injustices of Zionism and Israel’s agregious policies of Occupation and Apartheid.
Said one of the KP presentors, herself a native of Brazil, “There was a saying in Brazil, ” we have five seasons… Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall and Massacre, so the people of Brazil understand the plight of the Palestinian people.” They understand the struggle and they recognize that the people of Palestine must be reconciled with their land.
The Kairos Document, originally developed by the South African Christian clergy in response to Apartheid in that country, has become a part of Muslim, Christian and Jewish voices of conscience against the Occupation of Palestine. Though rooted in Christian theology, Kairos Palestine recognizes that the issues at stake are not a religious struggle but rather a struggle between the occupied and the occupier.
Kairos Palestine addresses 4 groups of people: all Muslims-asking all to stand in solidarity with Palestinians; Christians in Palestine-acknowledging their struggle and strength; all Jews-asking them to acknowledge and speak out against Israeli apartheid; and, to the global community.
The Kairos document calls on the global community to join the Kairos Palestine call. Stand in solidarity with Palestine, hold your lawmakers and governments to account. Be aware of what you purchase. AND VISIT PALESTINE.