The following is a newsletter article that David Sokal, owner of Olive Branch Enterprises, importer, bottler and distributor of Peace Oil, wrote for a Seattle church which is partnered with a church in Nazareth. Peace Oil is a for-profit, ethical business which imports Palestinian and Israeli olive oil to the US thus encouraging the two peoples to work together in a mutually beneficial business partnership. The American product, Peace Oil, should not be confused with a similar but entirely independent product also called Peace Oil marketed in Great Britain. I hope you’ll visit David’s site and make a holiday purchase (I know I’m a little late on that):
Hidden in the hills in the northern
Galileeregion of is the small Arab-Israeli Israel . Raineh is next door to the much better known town of villageof Raineh , Jesus’ childhood home. The Nazareth metropolitan area, which includes Raineh, is home to 100,000 Arab citizens of Nazareth . Raineh itself is home to 15,300 people, 80% Arab Muslim, 19.3% Arab Christian and the remainder Druze Arab. Raineh is also the home to The Holy Family Episcopal Church. Israel
A mere 9,000 miles away is St. Andrews Episcopal Church ensconced in the very comfortable, middle-class American neighborhood of Greenlake. Assuming
is similar to the Seattle in religious composition, it is closer to 70% Christian and 1% Muslim. Quite the opposite of Raineh. US
As different as the climates, demographics, cultures, politics and even flora and fauna may be from
to Raineh, inside the walls of these two churches are a shared set of values and beliefs that link the congregants together across time and space. Seattle
itself, the separation between Jews and Arabs is ever present. In the Israel Galileethere are Jewish towns and Arab towns. In the large cities, there are Jewish sections and Arab sections. Of course there are exceptions. is relatively integrated and there is the remarkable small Haifa where Jews and Arabs live side-by-side. villageof Neve Shalom
This is not to say that Jews and Arabs never have positive, normal interactions in the streets, buses, stores and other public spaces. There are also close bonds between Jews and Arabs who meet through work or in more integrated neighborhoods. Almost half of
’s Jews are from Arab countries and are very familiar with Arabic culture and maintain many of its traditions. It is important to note that to this day, mizrachi Jews, (Jews from Arab countries) are still disproportionately poor compared to their European Jewish brothers and sisters. Israel
The ultimate separation between Jews and Palestinian Arabs is represented by the barrier wall that meanders along the pre-1967 border of
occasionally wandering outside of that line and slicing through Israel West Banktowns, cutting off families from loved ones, neighbors from each other, and farmers from their farmlands. Most Israelis recognize the problematic nature of this barrier, but also point out that since it has been built suicide bombings have stopped almost entirely.
Despite the intractable nature of the conflict, literally thousands of Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs are beginning to build bridges across this gulf. Efforts at rapprochement have been made by the more open-minded members of both cultures from early on in this historic struggle over the land. But now it seems these efforts are expanding more rapidly than in the past.
…Also, there are successful commercial ventures that mutually benefit both communities. Peaceworks, started by a Russian Jew named Daniel Lubetzky has been selling food products made by Palestinian processors since 1994. Their original line of Mediterranean condiments was humorously dubbed, “Moshe and Ali.” Daniel has been heavily re-investing his profits in the One Voice Movement and successfully encouraging other wealthy donors to support this cause as well.
Recently, Fareed Zakaria, host of PBS’s “Foreign Exchange” covered the agreement between Dr. Bonners Magic Soap and two fair trade groups in
and Israel . Dr. Bonners is a Palestine company that was started by a German Jewish immigrant in the 1920s. They make high-quality, organic soap. They have agreed to buy olive oil for use in their soap from Canaan Fair Trade, a cooperative of Palestinian farmers based in the US West Bank, and from Sindyanna of Galilee a group of Arab and Jewish women.
On a much smaller scale, but closer to home, David Sokal has started Olive Branch Enterprises here in
. He also buys olive oil from Sindyanna and Canaan Fair Trade, as well as Green Action Israel. He bottles and sells the oil as Peace Oil. Seattle
Peace Oil has been enthusiastically supported at
St. AndrewsEpiscopal. The outpouring of generosity goes well beyond a love for good olive oil. It comes from the deep yearning to reach out to those that are suffering due to conflict and violence. This yearning has the power to heal and close the gulf created by fear and resentment.
As sister church to The Holy Family Episcopal Church in Raineh,
St. Andrewsin has a spiritual connection to the people of Seattle and Israel . Now with a little olive oil from the Palestine Holy Land, that connection is consecrated.
I hope you’ll visit David’s website, www.peaceoil.biz, and make a purchase. It is an excellent gift for the holiday season or any other occasion. You’ll also enjoy using it in your own kitchen.