A sacred Tree for Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Middle East
On the Olive Route, we’ll make a stopover in the Middle East, in a part of the Mediterranean that is often referred to as the Holy Land. Of course, a visit to Jerusalem is called for, with the districts of the old town and the emblematic religious sites: the Wailing Wall, the Stations of the Cross and the Dome of the Rock. The olive tree is referred to as a sacred tree in each of the holy texts: the Torah, the Bible and the Koran. Only in Jerusalem and its surrounding area do the three monotheistic religions meet in such a poignant way.
In Al-Walaji, eight kilometres from Jerusalem, we’ll meet Salah, a Palestinian Muslim, who is the guardian of a 5000 year old olive tree, now at risk due to the construction of the Separation Barrier. In Bethlehem, we will meet Johnny Handel, an Arab Christian and carpenter working with olive wood. In the North of Jerusalem in the Talmon colony, Chezky Betzalel, a Jewish settler will open to us the door of his house and olive grove. Finally, close to Bethlehem again we will meet a Palestinian Christian, Daoud, whose olive grove is now surrounded by six colonies and his family threatened by eviction. Helped by the Rabbi Arik Asherman, Daoud tries to make the extremists understand that his intentions are just and peaceful.
Meeting passionate olive growers in the Holy Land will help us understand that here the olive tree symbolises a powerful connection to the lans, that planting as well as uprooting or destroying an olive tree is a political act. It is as if the olive tree here has become a hostage, a weapon, and nothing could be further from the one of peace that it plays in the sacred writings of the three religions.
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