For my bar-mitzvah, one hundred trees were planted in Israel in my name.
Trees dot the landscape on the first part of the drive from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv-Yafo. Forests and clumps of trees are clearly visible from the highway. If you look closer, you can see some stone walls and foundations among the trees. Our guide Said revealed that after the Nakba in 1948, the Israeli Government covered up destroyed Palestinian villages and homes by planting trees and creating national parks in these areas. This action further distances the space from its past inhabitants, changing it both physically and emotionally. Most of the trees that were planted are non-native to the region, eucalyptus and pine, and serve to remind the settlers of their home countries and further disrupt the indigenous geography.
Fayrouz from Grassroots Jerusalem explained that Israel continues to designate national parks as a means of expropriating land from Palestinians in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Concrete walls aren't the only way Israel keeps Palestinians away from their ancestral lands.
The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is one organization that facilitates the planting of trees in Israel, usually in celebration of a life-cycle event such as a birthday, bris, b'nai mitzvah, wedding, or death. Said says that the trees we see along the way were primarily planted by the JNF.
For my bar-mitzvah, JNF planted one hundred trees in Israel in my name. But to plant those roots, who and what had to be uprooted first?