“3, 2, 1, to Jenin (Palestine) Yalla Run!”

At last! The Run Across Palestine arrived Wednesday at Canaan Fair Trade headquarters near Jenin in the Palestinian West Bank following an ultra-marathon that covered over 100 miles in five days.

Six Michigan runners, Claire Everhart, Meryl Marsh, Randi Lyn, David Gardner, Timothy Young and Chris Treter — and media team including Aaron Dennis, Jacob Wheeler and Aubrey Parker and musician Joshua Davis — battled nagging injuries, mountainous terrain, fatigue, and hassling by the Israeli military on Day 1, but made it. A joyous celebration ensued Wednesday afternoon between the American runners and their Palestinian hosts.

But the struggles suffered by the Americans paled in comparison to the daily hardships endured by Palestinian olive farmers who continue to harvest the trees planted by the grandfathers and great-great grandfathers while living under occupation.
Their land and right to plant olive trees and build homes is often threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Thus, the Run Across Palestine was merely a vehicle by which to tell the story of Palestinian olive farmers.

The Palestinian oliver farmers stories

“The olive tree means everything to me,” said Khadir Khadir, who’s been an olive farmer for six years, since the day the Palestine Fair Trade Association was founded. “My livelihood completely depends on the olive tree. It’s my source of sustinence, and it’s patriotic. When I grow trees, I keep my family’s roots in the ground here.”

Here’s the sixth video in Aaron Dennis’ and Jacob’s Wheeler’s seven-part web video series, “The People and the Olive” which has been produced during the ultra-marathon. Watch the other videos here: http://onthegroundglobal.org/tag/the-people-and-the-olive/

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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