A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Raspberries and Politics

Recently, one of my coworkers invited me on a trip to pick raspberries with her family in the West Bank. Before the trip I had to receive approval from our host organization but this proved to be simple thanks to the quick action of a staff member. My coworker, first of all, is someone who has reported on Israel and the greater Middle East for more than two decades and has received many accolades. I actually grew listening to her on the radio, so to have the opportunity to hear her insights into the settlements, the wall, the tunnels, checkpoints etc. all while traveling through them was amazing. On the way to the raspberries, before leaving Jerusalem, we stopped at the store so that one of her kids could buy whip cream, we then ventured into the West Bank. In reality, it’s not much of a “venture” at all it’s really quite simple. The way the roads are set up it facilitates the easiest experience for the driver traveling from Jerusalem to the settlements.  We were close to places we had visited during the seminar on our tour of some of the settlements, including Gush Etzion and had we continued further on the road we would have gone to Hebron. Shortly after the second tunnel there was a large yellow sign that read something like “Handing over your car for repairs in the Palestinian Authority is illegal.” I learned that many Israelis had previously sent cars to be worked on the in the West Bank because it was a lot cheaper than repair places in Israel.

The landscape leading up to the farm is quintessentially biblical with green shrubs and empty hill tops save for lined stoned terraces. The raspberry patch itself is perched on a hillside with a great view looking west over hills.

View looking North-West from raspberry patch

The farmer had opened especially for us (it was the end of the season), so we were the only ones there. Despite it being the end of the season there were many wonderful berries to be picked. We focused mostly on the raspberries but there were also some blackberries but most were not ripe yet.

At one point I was off picking from a patch by myself and I could not hear or see anyone else, for what was the first time this summer. It was beautiful and peaceful and the irony of this moment existing in one of the most contested spaces was not lost on me. I felt conflicted about the location of the berries and still do but as a student I have the ability to say it was a learning experience which indeed it was. To make a slight tangent, being a student and an international one at that, gives you the ability to have experiences not many people can have without having nine billion strings attached or harsh repercussions. Particularly, in a politically charged environment I am very aware of the privileged status I have. The privilege includes more than just my “student” status but also my skin color, nationality, language, lack of religion (which this summer has allowed me to breeze through some things but in other ways actually been held against me).  There have been many moments of beauty this summer which I must admit have surprised me. Likewise, there have been many moments where I have witnessed some dreadful things. It seems that the political is rarely void in any situation including picking fruit but this view is also informed by my status as a student.

Organic raspberries

On the farm we picked and ate so many berries, chatted and even competed to find the tastiest ones. I had the lovely job of eating and rating the berries. The berries are organic and you payed a small entrance fee so you could eat as many as you liked. After finishing we made our way back to the top of the hill where one of my coworker’s children, who is an aspiring chef (and only 11), put together berry arrangements with mint leaves and whip cream. I was pretty impressed. On our way off the farm we stopped to pay for the containers we had filled. After weighing the farmer removed three percent of the berries and read a prayer and then threw the three percent on the ground. This tradition is preformed for fruit grown in Israel, as my coworker explained this to me she said in the “biblical definition of Israel, not modern day Israel.” It was nice to pause for a moment and listen to the prayer, which was in Hebrew.


The fruit here is absolutely amazing and I had been wanting to pick my own since we arrived and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity. Picking fruit is an immensely satisfying and fun experience. I would think this enjoyment and satisfaction I experience is related to my own background except that most people I know seem to enjoy it as much as I do, including my coworker and her family.


1 comment to Raspberries and Politics