Olive-picking season starts at Birzeit University with tree planting campaign

In Palestine, and at Birzeit University in particular, the olive harvest season is a timeless tradition; an intrinsic part of Palestinian culture and heritage. In the 2020-2021 academic year, Birzeit University’s community could not celebrate this annual tradition due to the Covid-19 lockdown. This year, however, the university’s community revives this tradition once more as the Deanship of Student Affairs launched the first harvest season activity on campus on October 9, 2021.

Birzeit University's community, including University President Dr. Beshara Doumani, Head of the Union of Instructors and Employees Dr. Lena Meari, members of the union, and several students, gathered to plant trees near the university’s gates, while maintaining social distancing and Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.

Since Birzeit University was established in 1924, it has always placed a premium on cultural activities, viewing them as essential in the development of dynamic and socially responsible individuals. Doumani, addressing the participating students and faculty members, stressed the national role that the university should play in the Palestinian community. This institution, said Doumani, has always been part and parcel of the Palestinian community, helping document and defy Israeli restrictions and violations against Palestinians.

Activities such as the tree planting campaign, Doumani added, are part of the ongoing efforts that Birzeit’s community should make for the university to become a model to the Palestine we always dream of.

The olive harvest season, which usually takes place between October and November, has always been an act of steadfastness in the face of the Israeli occupation’s land grabs and of protection and promotion of Palestinian culture and heritage. Anan Atteereh, the acting dean of student affairs, explained that olive picking is a form of resistance; an essential tradition in confronting the escalating threat of land loss, house demolitions, and the uprooting of olive trees, in addition to maintaining Palestinian identity and culture.

The tree planting was accompanied by folkloric Palestinian dances and a group traditional breakfast.

Birzeit University has made olive-picking part of its culture, with an official holiday, in the middle of October, to encourage students to participate in harvesting olives with their families and other Palestinians and connect with the land.