Today we come back to the place where we were yesterday. We learn that this family lives from the produce of their trees alone, they do not have any other source of income. We ask them about the price of the olive oil. Last year the price paid to the peasant per kilo was 10 NIS, (New Israeli Shekels), about US$2.20. Some farmers were better off just saving and using the oil, because with that price they would have lost money on the transaction. I guess that, like all raw materials producers, specially food, they are at the mercy of the fluctuations in the international markets. They can sell very little to Israel, we are told, because the Israeli state is blocking the entry of Palestinian products into Israel; it is also another way to squeeze them further. And, on top, there is the internal political situation.

Some internationals think that Arafat was not carrying a good policy on this matter; for instance olive oil was being imported from Jordan when the Palestinian farmers were already in this bad situation. This year the price is over 20 shekels per kilo; at least it is worth it to produce it.

More people come with the family to help out today and the task is a lot faster. Whatever they do not pick up today, will have to stay unpicked.

The bulk of the conversations are done in English among the internationals. Some men can speak a bit of English. In general women do not speak, I suspect they can speak English but they do not speak with us. Apparently the correct thing to do when you speak to a couple is to speak to the man only. In any case, it is quite frustrating to try to speak to the women or the children and not to be able to.

We spend much of today sitting down putting olives into the bucket. There is no problem with settlers or soldiers in the whole day and at about four we go back to ‘the base’. We all agree that this business of picking up olives is like an oasis of peace in the dessert of war, at least for our eyes, because there on the mountain the feeling is very nice and peaceful, while the reality of the situation is all oppression and war against the oppressed, which, being more silent and low intensity, I think it is more cruel.

We come back to the refugee camp where we are staying. It actually looks like any poor neighbourhood of any city. People can already recognise our faces and we can already recognise some of the kids that shout and follow us, saying “hello!” and “what’s your name!”. Some times they say “shalom”, which is the greeting in Hebrew. We are told the Jew is the only foreigner these children have seen, or recognised, so they assume that every foreigner is a Jew.

In the internet cafe from where I send these tales, the manager asks us what we are doing here and we explain. He then gives us a special price, in solidarity.