An olive tree symbolizing hope and peace was planted at Israel’s Gush Etzion Winery in memory of a beloved deceased Palestinian worker.

By United with Israel Staff

Israel’s Gush Etzion Winery memorialized a Palestinian worker who died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage two weeks ago. A group of Jews and Palestinians joined forces to plant an olive tree, a symbol of peace, in front of the winery.

Shadi Assad, 25, from the village Khallet Sakariya in the Gush Etzion region outside of Jerusalem, had worked at the Gush Etzion Winery’s restaurant for five years as a cleaner.
Last month, Assad complained of head pain. He was taken to a medical clinic in Bethlehem, where he was told that nothing serious was wrong. One week later, Assad died of a brain hemorrhage.

Following a condolence visit by the winery’s owner, Shraga Rozenberg, to the Assad family, his colleagues decided to plant an olive tree in his memory.

Biblically, the olive tree represents peace and comfort. However, presently, the olive tree is often portrayed in the news as a point of contention between Jews and Palestinians.

In Israel, planting trees (usually olive trees as they grow well in hill country) establishes squatter ownership rights on property. This creates a “land grab” between Jews and Palestinians.

Assad’s olive tree is meant to symbolize hope for peace between the clashing cultures. Alongside the tree is a large stone with both Hebrew and Arabic inscriptions.

The inauguration was attended by local rabbis, staff, family and friends from both the Jewish and Muslim communities.

Following the event, one winery employee wrote, “I don’t know what peace would be like and how to bring it, but I know that a few hours ago I experienced a moment of peace. I feel the crazy complexity, the anger — but also neighborly and humane feelings.”

In a video, Rozenberg and Muhmad Assad, the father of Shadi, sit together and explain their feelings about Shadi and the tree planting.

Muhmad said that he witnessed the love that the winery staff had for his son, noting that they cried along with him. Rozenberg shared that he wanted to comfort the family with the memorial.

The video ends with both men expressing similar sentiments, hoping for peace in their native languages.


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