There is a story in the Talmud of a man who was walking along a road, and came upon an elderly man planting a carob tree. Seeing how old the gardener was, he asked him, "How long does this tree take to bear fruit?" The old man said, "70 years." The first man asked the gardener if he expected to live that long, and the man replied, "What I am planting, I am planting for my children, just as others planted for me."
As reported by Israel Radio, last Tuesday morning the Israeli army demolished an agricultural plot belonging to the illegal outpost of Esh Kodesh. In response, the settlers initiated a "price tag" attack beginning with an assault against a Palestinian family and farmers, and an attempt to uproot olive trees in fields between the settlement and the village.
It has become a regular occurrence: When Israeli security forces remove an illegal structure, extreme settlers take revenge on Palestinians. Such "price tag" attacks have targeted not only Palestinians and their property, but mosques, churches, peace activists (including Peace Now's Hagit Ofran and Yariv Oppenheimer) and the Israeli military.
It is sad to note that such peaceful things as trees are being used as weapons to steal land. The settlers first plant trees in order to make a claim on the land. Then, when the Israeli authorities come to uproot the trees because they're planted on land that does not belong to them, in retribution the settlers punish the Palestinians by damaging Palestinian trees.
Tu Bishvat, the New Year of the trees, is Thursday. On this holiday, Jews celebrate the products of the land of Israel, and plant trees. Like the old man in the Talmud, we are planting today for our children.
What will be the fruit that they gather?
In our recent year end letter, Rabbi Sharon Brous wrote that "Every week brings a healthy dose of bad news from the region - from the stubborn growth of Jewish settlements to distorted history in Hamas textbooks, from Jewish 'Price Tag' attacks on Palestinians to public celebration of Palestinians who committed acts of terror against Jews." It is true that "Those looking for despair can easily amass supportive evidence." But people -both Israelis and Palestinians- are still planting for the future.
By supporting APN, you are supporting the hard work that Secretary Kerry is doing, to bring peace and a two-state solution to Israelis and Palestinians. It will not be easy, but backed by the Obama administration, Secretary Kerry has made much greater strides towards peace than anyone expected. Peace IS possible.
Like the old man in the Talmud, we are planting for the future. Help us.