From Australia to Palestine: The Colonial Project of Uprooting Trees

Olive trees chopped by illegal Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank. (Photo: via WAFA)

By Margaret Cassar

The Australian Friends of Palestine activists in Adelaide recently waved the Palestinian flag in this grove in solidarity with Palestine.

We have a short post-colonial history here in South Australia. The HMS Buffalo landed at Holdfast Bay in 1836.

We were preceded by the longest-living continuous culture in the world, the indigenous people of the Kaurna Plains.

The brevity of our European history, a mere 188 years, is a blink of an eye compared to the ancient civilizations of Palestine and the Kaurna people.

Still, like people the world over, we treasure our history and many of us dedicate our lives to preserving anything beautiful from the past to uplift, inspire, and educate.

Adelaide is fortunate. We were spared the attention of rapacious and greedy developers during the rampant development in the 60s and 70s so we still have pockets of land that provide historical delight.

One such place is the olive grove planted in 1856 in the parklands on the edge of the city. It provides an oasis of tranquillity and a sense of history amidst heavy traffic. For immigrants from the Mediterranean in the 50s and 60s, it was a welcome reminder of home and also an opportunity to harvest fresh olives.

While acknowledging they are planted on stolen land we would be appalled if anyone dared to suggest taking this window into a different time away from us.

Yet, the world watches olive trees, thousands of years old, in Palestine ripped up not just to provide space for more squatter housing projects but also to deprive Palestinians of their livelihoods and connection to the land.

Since 1967, approximately 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted by Israeli bulldozers and armed forces. 

It is estimated by the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem to have threatened the livelihood of 80,000 families.

Israel controls nearly every aspect of Palestinian lives so there are constant reminders in our daily life of the contrast between an Israeli occupation that seeks to destroy Palestinian lives and livelihoods and our peaceful lives.

The Australian Friends of Palestine street activists in Adelaide recently waved the Palestinian flag in this grove to highlight these differences and to perform an act Palestinians are forbidden, flying their own flag on their own land.

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