For centuries the image of an olive branch has symbolized peace.
The Greek and Roman cultures used the symbol as early as 2500 years ago. The dual image of a dove with an olive branch, has been a Christian symbol of peace since the end of the first century C.E. This in part comes from Genesis 8:11 which tells of a dove being sent from Noah’s ark, returning with an olive branch in her beak.
The symbol continues today. In Palestine, olive oil is the primary source of income for about 75,000 farmers. As well as olive oil, olive trees produce olives for food, soap, jewelry, wood-carving and fireplace logs.
Under the military occupation of Israel, Palestinian farmers have suffered the destruction of their trees – bulldozed and burned to make way for illegal settlements. They are often cut off from their farms by checkpoints, roadblocks or the imposing thirty foot high concrete `security fence’, suffer water restrictions, curfews during peak picking season, or need a permit to go to their own land.
Zatoun, the Arabic word for olive, is a company that markets fair trade Palestinian olive oil, soap and the wonderful aromatic herb mix called za’atar.
With every purchase of Zatoun, you support the farmers of Palestine in the struggle for their livelihood and land. Farmers are paid fair trade prices. As well, a share of proceeds supports Project Hope, an education and art therapy program for youth in Palestine. Another portion is donated to Trees for Life, a project to plant tens of thousands of olive tree saplings to replaced trees destroyed by the military occupation.
I ordered an `Advent Peace Box’ a case of Zatoun olive oil, herbs and soap for my little congregation at Sicamous United Church last November, and sold out on the first Sunday of Advent!
With the arrival of Syrian refugees in the Shuswap, I took the last of my za’atar and gave it as a gift to our first refugee. He held it to his heart – it was a taste of home. I knew then, that I needed to get more.
Several refugee sponsor groups have already purchased a welcome gift of oil, soap and za’atar from me, and I am happy to continue as the local distributor, as long as the need exists. If you are interested in purchasing any of the products for yourself or as a gift for someone else, please give me a call, and together we can support peace and justice for Palestinian farmers.
You can contact me, Juanita Austin, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 250-832-6385.