“In the village of Dabouria in the lower Galilee, Hadas Lahav is visiting Mohamed Malsalha, a producer of olive oil who has nearly four acres of olive trees.
“Lahav, an exporter, discusses growing conditions with Malsalha in Hebrew and fluent Arabic. She takes several vials of the oil to run tests for acidity and peroxide. The results will determine whether she buys a ton of Malsalha’s oil for export [sold in Australia, among many other nations.]
“Lahav is one of the founders of the Sindyanna of Galilee fair trade cooperative, a member of the International Federation of Alternative Trade, or IFAT, a global fair trade group.
“The group is comprised of women and stresses better wages and working conditions, Jewish-Arab business cooperation, high-quality and organic products and fair prices for farmers.
“‘We began the Sindyanna project 10 years ago to work with the Arab [oil producing] population in Israel, and then expanded it to buy za’atar and soap from the West Bank,’ Lahav explains. ‘Peace is not just about ending the occupation, it also means giving Arabs in Israel the same rights and opportunities as Jews.’
“According to Lahav, many Arab olive growers in Israel do not have the same access to state-run irrigation as large Jewish kibbutzim and moshavim. With their resulting low yields, the Arab farmers are mostly ignored by the big producers, Lahav says.”
Such stories are more common than the mainstream media reports. It is encouraging that despite years of violence on both sides (and new evidence of ever-expanding West Bank settlements) Israelis and Palestinians can recognise the rights of each other and work together. Not unlike the documentary series “Children of Abraham” – currently screening on ABC TV – years of occupation has led to some enlightened Palestinians and Israelis not succumbing to hate, but finding hope.