Pressing Olives for Peace
An olive grove in the foothills of the Carmel Mountains is situated in one of the most beautiful and loved yet conflict ridden parts of the world.
However, in contrast to the newsreels of war and hatred, Peace Oil is just one example among many of peace and cooperation in the region.
Jews, Arabs, Bedouin and Druze are working together on this family-run olive grove to press olives for Peace Olive Oil, an initiative of the Charities Advisory Trust.
“People have this view that everyone is at war, but they’re not,” said Dame Hilary Blume, who founded the project after tasting the delicious olive oil while staying in the area.
She went in search of an olive farm that employed people of all communities on an equal basis, with a fair wage and health insurance.
Peace Oil slots into the region’s long-standing tradition of olive oil production. Amos Straus who runs the olive grove has been growing olives for 25 years, carrying on from his father before him.
“Traditionally Arabs, Palestinians and Bedouins have worked together to do the pressing,” said Dame Hilary, “and the pressing for Peace Oil happens in a Druze village.”
For olive oil buffs, the olives are pressed using a Rapanelli press, which carefully decants only the highest quality oil, separating it from the water and husk. Then, the idealistic olive oil is taken to the press within 3 hours of picking, to produce oil of the highest quality.
The press is called the Chalabi Daliat El Carmel and has existed for over 65 years.
“Everybody is friendly and gets on,” said Dame Hilary, speaking of her visit to the producers, “most people want to live in peace because the alternative is so terrible.”
Profits from Peace Oil are used to support peace and reconciliation work in the Middle East.