“Gaza death toll rises above 200, Israel suffers first casualty.”  That’s the first news that comes up on my screen. Pretty awful times in Palestine and Israel too right now, the airstrikes and deaths and destruction, and the terrible racist rhetoric, and lots of violence against anti-occupation Jewish activists as well.  And the sirens and anxiety in Israel itself.

Peaceful people watching this situation are anguished — ones who can imagine different scenarios of justice and resolution and a politics that recognises multiple points of view.  Might does not make Right.  But Might can demand an echoing vengeance of trauma through generations, through the souls of people who lose loved ones, family, friends, properties, trees, gardens, homes– and turn that despair into revenge and rage, or not.

I feel a sense of muddled hope in how hard Jewish anti-occupation activists work.    Jewish Voice for Peace in California does amazing analysis, education and organising.  Jews for Justice for Palestinians does similar work in the UK.  There are lots of church groups, development groups, and solidarity organisations, imagining a better present and future, and least of all an end to the immediate violence let alone the ongoing violence of military repression and resource commandeering.

All this is the background of distress in my mind when today I read this moving article about agriculture in Palestine and the IDF destruction of fruit and olive trees and enclosure of common grazing land to military and settler needs. Yet farmers continue to tend trees and land and somehow, through all the violence, connect their history to a sense of hope for the future.  Leave my blog and read this article– it’s important.

If you see trees as a way to give root to peace and a future with hope, you can donate money for olive trees in Palestine.

Meanwhile, a Wales-Palestine friendship group (kind of Twin Towns/ Sister Cities- ish) where I live stocks a shop where I work with Zaytoun Fairtrade items from Palestine — olive oil, almonds,dates, za’atar, couscous, and  freekeh (green wheat).   These products are traditional and really delicious and help support livelihoods in various parts of Palestine, and ensure a market in Britain.

I’ve found myself really enjoying the toasty taste of Zaytoun Fairtrade almonds,  having read about the outrageous water profligacy of California almonds .  God knows Palestinians growing almonds in Palestine are not going to be wasting much water, and these almonds are of a variety that can thrive in arid conditions.  They are yummy– that’s important too obviously.

It’s a small gesture to support people in Palestine growing food, but it feels like something, maybe small but possible to do.  So I’m writing this blog and sharing recipes with readers.

I just found this beautiful blog called Kitchen of Palestine, which has this recipe for Freekeh Soup (with organic Freekeh, a roasted grain green wheat that might be easier on one’s wheat-sensitive digestion than other wheats? ).

And this recipe for the Palestinian couscous called Maftoul.(Read about “Justice and Couscous” here.)

Then there’s the Za’atar, an amazingly savoury flavour you might just start madly sprinkling on everything, from popcorn to flatbreads to scrambled eggs to roast chicken to Homity Pie.  What’s so magical about this spice mixture is the slight sour acidity of sumac that gives a flavour-balance to everything.

I want to to try these Aubergine “Fries” with a Lemon-Tahini Dressing.

And of course there is The Great Ottolenghi who with Palestinian co-author Sami Tamimi wrote the gorgeous, hope-giving cookbook Jerusalem which presents, through food, a vision of cultures living equally, peacefully, in a city shared by history and right.  And totally into cooking and eating as something both cultures share obsessively.  Here’s a recipe for O’s Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini and Za’atar that happens to be on-line.

This, Dear Reader, is my offering into the terrible fray of violence and suffering. may it help somehow.  Somehow. Somehow.


18 July

“No Matter How Many Olive Trees They Destroy, We Will Plant More” in the Ecologist.