Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. Standard memberfinnegan
    To the Left
    25 Jun '06
    17 Aug '16 10:01

    This is a fascinating and very postiive article which descibes the creativity of Palestinians looking for economic survival under the intolerable and vicious conditions of Isreal's apartheid system.

    It emphasises their inheritance of a 3,000 year tradition.

    The Oslo Accords, the Two State solution and the current policies of the racist Netenyahu government all deploy a neoliberal economic model which seeks to destroy the Palestinian attachment to their land and replace it with a system of urbanization and dependence on foreign owned commercial projects using cheap, insecure labour in unsustainable enterprises.

    Instead, the Canaan Fair Trade project is buidling on the competitive strengths of the Palestinian environment. Its achievements are already impressive but what is truly significant is the potential it has for success on a far larger scale if the conditions of Israeli occupation and apartheid were lifted from their backs.

    The Palestinians could have a future. The Isreali state is steadily working to destroy this and reduce the Palestinians to a degrading level of dependence. Thier racist policies depend on a vision of Palestinians that is entirely negative and offensively patronising. This article displays Palestinians in a different light and offers the essential answer to racists everywhere: an appeal to our common humanity and to a better set of values.

    “There is a market abroad that identifies with the Palestinians and their struggle, but it is not the biggest one for us,” Abufarha says. “Increasingly, people understand that there has to be a proper relationship between people and land, one that nurtures rather than ruins our planet. We have to be guardians, protecting and supporting the treasure we have here in Palestine by encouraging biodiversity.”

    The name, Canaan Fair Trade, Abufarha explains, refers to the name of this region more than 3,000 years ago, one that precedes Israel’s political claims based on a presumed biblical birthright. In fact, the Canaanite culture is frequently referenced in the Bible. “We have inherited here a paradise that dates back to the time of Canaan,” he says. “We must not live exclusively in reaction to Israel and the occupation. We must draw on our own traditions and cultivate our own strengths. They are to be found in our natural environment, which is why the settlements are so intrusive and corrosive – they disrupt our sense of home.”

    Abufarha emphasizes that it is vital to market the strengths of Palestinian agriculture. “We have hundreds of thousands of people who know how to farm the land. We have a wonderful soil and climate. The airflow is good. We have tasty varieties.” Such self-declared pride reflects a new confidence in Palestine’s global image. Once the small amounts of Palestinian olive oil exported abroad were labeled “From the Holy Land” or even as from Israel. Canaan, on the other hand, proudly declares on its labels: “From Palestine, the land of milk and honey.”

    All of this, however, must take place in the context of a hostile occupation.

    Dozens of military orders are designed to make life as difficult as possible for farmers in Area C, where most of them reside.

    One of the biggest obstacles, says Abufarha, is Israel’s severe restrictions on irrigation. Installing water pipes is illegal without Israeli permission, but the military authorities rarely issue such permits. “The farmers ignore these orders because we have no choice if we are to survive here.”

    Abufarha is equally hopeful about the future, and Palestine’s place in it. “People are tired of the modern world’s garbage, its wars, its damage to the environment and its threats to the social fabric. These things are all connected. People want better governments and policies. Through food, Palestinians can gain a voice in this global movement for change. Palestine is part of these efforts to forge new kinds of solidarity across borders. We have the chance to let people see Palestinians in a different light, and see that we are not ‘the foreigner’. We can be a partner in a wider struggle for global justice.”