Olive tree - resized

Israel, Palestine and ‘Greenwashing’

The genocidal methods employed by Israel against the Palestinians know no boundaries. The degree to which apartheid Israel works to erase Palestine, its people, history and culture is truly extraordinary. One method in use that may not be commonly known is referred to as ‘greenwashing’.
To fully understand this concept, it’s necessary first to understand and appreciate Palestinians’ devotion to, and reliance on, their lands in general, and olive trees in particular. For millennia, Palestinians have farmed the land and supported themselves and their families in this way. The olive tree has a central role in the lives and the very existence of Palestinians.
A newly-planted olive tree takes several years to bear fruit, but most will live for hundreds of years, producing fruit. It is not unusual for such trees to live for 2,000 years. The olives are used in a variety of ways, not only for oil, but in the making of soap, hair treatment and other products, and even to light their homes. Since many Palestinians live on lands that have been in their families for countless generations, there is a strong attachment to olive trees. Some families name their olive trees, indicating the importance the trees have to them.
Israel is not unaware of the significance of olive trees to the Palestinians. The Zionist Jewish National Fund (JNF) has long sponsored a program called ‘Plant a Tree in Israel’. For a small sum, they say, anyone in the world can have a European Pine tree planted in Israel, in memory of a loved one. Who can argue with such a thing? Can anything be more benign than planting a tree? However, there are multiple problems with this:
  • The trees are planted in Palestine, not Israel;
  • Olive trees are destroyed so that the new trees, European Pines, can be planted, and
  • The new trees help to erase Palestinian history.
European Pines are, as the name indicates, common in European countries. They look far different than olive trees, and do not thrive in Palestine as olive trees do. These ‘memorial’ trees are planted not only on former olive tree orchards which have been destroyed to make way for them, but also on bulldozed villages. When orchards are destroyed, the owners are given no compensation; they have no opportunity to appeal the decision. They can only watch in despair as their livelihood, the same means that has sustained their family for generations untold, is destroyed.
Part of Israel’s genocidal practices involves obliterating Palestine history and culture; this is done, in part, by destroying entire villages, bulldozing every building in the village. Again, there is no compensation offered, and no opportunity to appeal. Palestinians must simply quickly remove whatever they can, before their homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, stores and farms are bulldozed. Once that is done, what better way to hide any remaining evidence that this area was once full of families, working, farming, going to school, etc., then to grow a forest on the site? European Pines grow quickly, hiding the tragedies on which they are planted.
In the past few decades, at least 280,000 olive trees have been intentionally destroyed in Palestine by Israel; an estimated 250,000,000 pine trees have been planted, some financed by well-meaning but uninformed people, but most by the Israeli government. It is likely that most of the people around the world who have sent money to have them planted are unaware of their real purpose; who is going to think of genocide, when planting a tree in memory of a loved one?
Israel has many methods of genocide against the Palestinians that are not generally known in the U.S.; reporting on these atrocities seems a bit better in much of the rest of the world. Greenwashing, like many others, is insidious, and must be stopped.
With the re-election of Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu, the only change that can be expected in Israeli policy toward Palestine is an increase in illegal arrests, illegal settlement building, illegal land confiscation, and violence. However, a large crack in the fragile, glass jar of global support has appeared, put there by the campaign promises of Mr. Netanyahu. Even the United States, which for so long has been Israel’s willing puppet, is ‘reevaluating’ its policies toward that country, in view of Mr. Netanyahu’s assurance to Israelis that there will be no independent Palestine while he is Prime Murderer. Europe, long impatient with Israel’s continuing violation of international law, cannot be expected to sit quietly now.
What might this ‘reevaluation’ result in? The one aspect that is being whispered, almost in reverential awe, is the possibility that the U.S. may stop its blatantly unfair, constant and unjust defense of Israel at the United Nations. Any time that a resolution seeking to further the basic human rights of the Palestinians, rights that Israel deprives them of with the full support and financing of the United States, is proposed in the U.N., the U.S. vetoes it. Incredibly, it even vetoes it when it agrees with it! Consider then U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s astonishing comments when vetoing a resolution criticizing illegal settlements in 2011: She said that, while the U.S. sees “the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians”. Now, perhaps, the handcuffs which the U.S. so firmly locked in place on the U.N.’s ability to do its job will be released.
What can Palestinians expect in the near term? Unfortunately, nothing good. The wheels of diplomacy turn far more slowly than those on the bulldozers that destroy Palestinian homes and olive trees. Yet there was a turning point with Israel’s savage genocide in the summer of 2014; now that Mr. Netanyahu has stated clearly his intentions regarding Palestine, the age of pretense is over. The U.S., which has never helped Palestine, can no longer hide behind the farce of negotiations. The time to act is now.
Originally published by Aletho News.
Robert Fantina is an activist and journalist, working for peace and social justice. He writes extensively about the oppression of the Palestinians by apartheid Israel. He is the author of several books, including ‘Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy’.
Originally from the U.S., Mr. Fantina moved to Canada following the 2004 U.S. presidential election, and now resides in Kitchener, Ontario. Visit his web page at http://robertfantina.com/. Follow him on Twitter @robertfantina.

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