New Masafer Yatta Project: Planting Olive Trees

Dear Friends,

I wanted to let you know that I will be returning to Palestine soon for the September 6th  trial of the settler who assaulted me and fractured my skull this spring.   I also wanted to let you know about an exciting new olive planting project in the village of Tuba.

I am so grateful to everyone who helped me recover – to all of you who helped me pay for medical care, for the excellent care I received in Palestine, and the friends who cared for me so well after the attack.

Now, as I return to Palestine, I am asking once again for your help, encouragement and support — not only for myself, but more importantly for the people there who I’ve grown to love and admire. All too often as I check Instagram and Facebook, I see the faces of  people dear to me — not celebrating births or weddings, but being viciously attacked by settlers living illegally on stolen land, or violently arrested by the Israeli army just for farming and  going about their daily life ON THEIR OWN LAND.

Just days after I was assaulted,  settlers from the same Illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on attacked a shepherd from Tuba village as he grazed his sheep, beating him as he lay on the ground and spraying pepper spray directly into his eyes and face. Over the summer settlers have stolen sheep, crops and land, broken, burned  and uprooted olive trees, forced their way into homes, broken up furniture, destroyed personal belongings, destroyed the village’s well, assaulted shepherds and generally waged a campaign of terror aimed at forcing residents to abandon their village.

None have faced legal consequences, making it abundantly clear that it is only my US citizenship (and your pressure on our elected officials to make that citizenship mean anything) that has resulted in any charges at all against the settler who hit me.

It is especially painful for me to see that in the many online images, in the background or even holding the camera, are the children I have watched grow up and the new generation that has followed.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO: Israeli settlers and soldiers prevent Palestinians from using their water well, located on privately owned land in the village of Tuba.

As I head back to Palestine, the new school year is about to begin in Masafer Yatta. Once again what should be a source of joy for children from Tuba and Maghyer al Abeed  will instead mean a terrifying daily walk through lands newly stolen and colonized  by the same settlers who have violently attacked their families throughout the summer, watched by the same soldiers who have repeatedly invaded their homes and arrested their fathers.

Students in Sfai and Jinbah will likely attend class without a school.  Last spring the children of Sfai watched  Israeli bulldozers destroy their school and then the tent put up to replace it. As I write this, Israeli authorities have announced that the Jinbah school could be demolished any day. Indeed, all of the villages within Masafer Yatta are facing complete demolition to make way for Israeli Firing Zone 918 and  Israeli settlers who are moving so aggressively to establish new outposts.

These children need to know they and their families are not alone.  As I get ready to go back, I’m inviting you to help me send that message by sponsoring an olive tree to be planted in Masafer Yatta in the coming growing season, as a practical act of solidarity, and a means of helping families to hold onto their land.

Along with friends from Tuba, I’ve partnered with the Dutch organization Plant An Olive Tree (Plant een Olijfboom) to plant a grove of trees on these lands. In this short video you can see the trees, and hear from my friend Ali on the importance of keeping the olive trees on the land.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO (Text is in Dutch, but audio is in English)

Israeli law allows for the seizure of land as “state land” if the landowner cannot prove the agricultural use of it for three years.  The planting of these trees, with international involvement, both replaces  trees destroyed by settlers, and creates proof of cultivation that can help private landowners keep their land in court. Plant An Olive Tree has been working with families in Palestine for decades to replace some of the one million olive trees destroyed by Israeli settlers and soldiers since 2001. I’m grateful to them for helping us to create the Madison-Masafer Yatta Grove and send a living message of support for nonviolent resistance. 

Sponsoring a tree costs 20 euros or about $24 US Dollars. You can use PayPal or a credit card.  Plant an Olive Tree will send a lovely printable certificate of sponsorship by email so you can gift your tree to honor a friend or relative who cares for both freedom and the planet. If you prefer, you can send a check made payable to Palestine Partners or Cassandra Dixon and marked “Olive Grove” to 3579 County Road G, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965. You can also donate through Palestine Partners online HERE .

Finally, I also plan to visit the talented women of Women in Hebron Cooperative, and my dear friend Laila while I am there. WIH provides women in the Hebron area with a way to earn money for their families through the sale of handmade jewelry and traditional Palestinian embroidery. I’m happy to invite you to purchase their lovely products in the US HERE, or click the link below to shop for wonderful gifts for yourself or a friend, and support these hardworking and talented Palestinian women. If you’d like to offer their handmade products at an event, please contact me and I would be thrilled to bring them.


Laila looks on from the entrance to Women in Hebron’s shop as Israeli soldiers fill the streets of Hebron’s Old City market. Photo by amer_shallodi #شاهد_صور

Thank you so much for your care, support and solidarity, and for caring about these people who have become so dear to me,

Cassandra

PS: If you would like to donate towards the cost of travel to Palestine, you can use this go-fund-me link, make a tax deductible donation to Palestine Partners HERE, or use the links below. If you prefer, you can mail a check, made out to either Palestine Partners or Cassandra Dixon, to Palestine Partners, PO Box 8414, Madison, WI 53708.

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