Saturday, May 24, 2014
War Against the Fruit Trees
Valley before and after bull-dozing of fruit trees
If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you? Deuteronomy 20:19
Here I go again with the fruit tree verse from one of the Hebrew Scripture books called Deuteronomy. It is the biblical injunction not to cut down trees during conflicts, trees which, after all, haven't done anything to humans. I keep trotting it out as a sort of ecological proof text, but it makes such sense to me. Trees are healthy for us whether they are fruit-bearing or not, but so often the destruction of trees and forests is part of war, everything from spreading napalm on the jungles of Vietnam, to retaliatory starvation of communities which have collaborated against invading forces by razing of fruit and nut orchards.
In his book My Promised Land Ari Shavit writes about the prosperity planting fruit trees brought to enterprising Jewish immigrants, many of whom had never been farmers before. But both Jewish settlers and Palestinians have waged war against one another through the destruction of orchards. I blogged about this book and the excellent film The Lemon Tree, which has a high-ranking Israeli official ordering the destruction of a lemon grove owned by a Palestinian widow for security reasons.
Once again, there is a report of Israeli forces bull-dozing hundreds of fruit trees not long before harvest. Who knows what the justification might be, or claimed to be. The landowner posted on Facebook:
Today at 08.00, Israeli bulldozers came to the fertile valley of the farm where we planted fruit trees 10 years ago, and destroyed the terraces and all our trees there. More than 1500 apricot and apple trees as well as grape plants were smashed and destroyed.”
What a colossal mess the Middle East is. Such senselessness at every level. I can't speak for God, but I imagine she ain't happy.