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The olive groves
Photo: Ehud Amiton, Tazpit Unit
IDF soldiers keep watch over Palestinian olive pickers
Photo: AFP
Olives of wrath
Op-ed: Journalists, aid workers have interest in fueling conflict between Jews, Arab farmers
In recent years, the olive harvest in Judea and Samaria has been a time of excitement not only for the farmers, who are eager to reap their harvest, but also for international media and NGOs, eager to sow their stories. The press and international "peace" groups are eager to portray Jewish residents harassing Arab farmers, damaging the groves and crops.

 

The validity of these reports is rarely, if ever, questioned, investigated, and re-reported according to in-depth information gathering. Another aspect of these reports that is rarely questioned is the driving force behind the stories. It is common knowledge that for journalists, conflicts in general, and the Israeli-Arab conflict in particular, are the source of stories that will make headlines. Is it possible that the journalists and "aid workers" that report each year on the olive harvest have an interest in there being conflict between Israeli and Arab farmers?

 

The international media are not the only players with an interest in continued conflict. Numerous NGOs trip over one another for the ability to expose to the world the importance of their work protecting the "oppressed". In many cases, the activities of these foreign organizations have proved to be nothing more than staged provocations; ones to which foreign media have been invited to attend before the event occurred.

 

The hard truth is that the foreign media and international "peace" organizations in Israel derive their existence from continued conflict. If the conflict (both on a daily basis, and in general) were to end, they would lose their raison d'etre. Therefore, if there is no conflict to report on or save "oppressed" peoples from, it must be artificially created.

 

These organizations' motivation to perpetuate conflict is two-fold. Firstly, they have an ideological agenda; they wish to depict the Jewish "settlers" as bandits and vigilantes. This leads directly to the second part of their agenda, to show how important they themselves are in protecting the "oppressed" Arabs. In essence, they are attempting to make themselves indispensable. The academic literature on NGOs clearly shows that in order for NGOs to stay relevant and receive funding, they must be in the thick of conflict. But an even more basic question must first be asked in this "conflict". Whose land is it?

 

Professional provocateurs

The claims of individual Arabs to legal ownership of the farmlands, in a majority of cases, is not proven, and even worse, not questioned by media and international organizations. They are all too willing to accept the Arab claims of ownership at face value in order to propagate their storyline, thereby justifying their existence. This being the case, “rights groups” need only bring an Arab willing to publicly state a claim (on camera) that his rights are being trampled.

 

A brief history of these farmlands is greatly needed. In fact, vast areas of olive groves in Samaria are not private property (of any family or individual.) Historically and currently, Arab culture dictates that the olive harvest is done on a first-come-first-serve basis, regardless of ownership, meaning, there are no disputes between Arabs over harvesting of olives.

 

Only when Jewish residents harvest their olives do Arabs claim ownership, which in many cases is not a personal claim, but rather a nationalist one. In recent legal action, residents of the Samaria community Havat Gilad proved the above claim, resulting in a court order forbidding NGO activists from accessing olive groves around the community that are not privately owned by an individual Arab farmer.

 

The international organizations that claim to be lovers of peace are in fact nothing more than professional provocateurs. They are not based in this region and their activities harm local efforts of understanding and cooperation between Jews and Arabs.

 

A striking example is found in the Jewish community Itamar and the neighboring Arab village Beir Forik. Efforts between these communities to coordinate with and understand one another have been sabotaged by these "peace" groups. The unfortunate truth is, these international organizations have never made an effort to coordinate understanding between Jewish and Arab farmers in Judea and Samaria.

 

The media and NGOs have a vested interest in the continuation of conflict. Locally, organically created understanding and peace would cause the media and international organizations to become irrelevant, thereby losing funding, staffing and their raison d'etre, peace.

 

 

 

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