Counter 'Olive Harvest' Libel

Tired of libelous anti-Israeli reports during the annual olive harvest, Samaria residents create a website to show their side of the story.

Maayana Miskin , | updated: 9:09 PM

Olive harvest
Olive harvest
Israel news photo

The annual olive harvest in Judea and Samaria has become an annual media event – and its fruits are usually virulently anti-Israeli. The fall season is now a time when international media outlets are filled with stories of Israeli Jews clashing with Palestinian Authority Arabs, with the latter group portrayed as the victim.

Members of the Samaria Residents Council, sick of the propaganda, decided this year to set up a website that will include evidence of Arab and leftist assaults on Jewish farmers during the harvest. The site, which is currently available only in Hebrew, is titled, “Getting through the Olive Harvest together.”

Site operators are calling on Jewish farmers who have fallen victim to PA Arab violence or vandalism to send in their evidence for publication. The site also offers free advertising to Israeli farmers seeking Israeli laborers to help with the harvest.

This year's olive harvest, like many others, has been accompanied by headlines accusing Jews of violence, often with little supporting evidence. A recent Associated Press (AP) headline proclaims, “Extremist Jews damage Palestinian olive trees.” The article, written by Nasser Ishtayeh, is based on testimony from a PA Arab man living in an unidentified village.

Another AP story refers to the olive harvest as the “Palestinian olive harvest,” ignoring the many Israelis who will be harvesting their olives as well all over Israel.

A Washington Post article published Wednesday opens with PA Arabs accusing Jews living nearby of destroying their olive trees. The author apparently did not question the story or speak to the Israelis accused of vandalism; their story is not included and they are referred to only as “militant Jewish settlers.”

Reuters mentioned alleged Jewish violence in an unrelated olive harvest story. While writing about the accidental deaths of PA men working during the harvest, a journalist for the agency added, “risks of injury are usually linked to clashes with Jewish settlers over access to olive groves.”

The harvest has provided an opportunity for PA leaders and left-wing Israeli groups to get their names in the paper. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh both took part in photo shoots this week in which they wore traditional Arab headscarves and were pictured picking olives.

The Israeli leftist groups B'Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Yesh Din have all been interviewed by Israeli and foreign media, and have used the opportunity to accuse Judea and Samaria Jews of stealing olives or harassing Arabs. The three groups are all funded by the extreme-left New Israel Fund.