The JAI/ATG Olive Picking and Planting Programs are run for 10 days, in October and February of every year. The programs aim to provide assistance and a protective civil international presence for Palestinian families to help them overcome the restrictions imposed by the Israeli military occupation and settlers during the olive harvest and tree planting seasons. It also aims to give participants opportunities to develop their social, cultural, historical, religious and political understanding of Palestine, and experience life under the Israeli military occupation.
In June 2014, JAI concluded a study to find out what the impact of the Olive Picking/Planting programs were on past participants. This involved discovering whether or not past participants of the program had felt the need to advocate or be active in light of the program, and whether this translates to people having been or currently being involved in advocacy or activism on Palestinian issues. We also sought to discover what issues and problems these participants had with the program, to see if there is anything we could change to make the programs more effective. To do this, we sent an email survey to 498 of our past participants (all participants for whom we had an email and whose email address was still in service), with the response rate giving us a sample size of n=164. The data was then analysed using SPSS 20.
Our results show that the program does have an influence on the extent of the advocacy/activism of the sample. While 48.5% of our respondents were already active on Palestinian issues before they came to take part in the program, 86.4% stated that they have participated in some form of activism/advocacy since they took part in the program. This being said, only 69.9% of respondents continued these advocacy or activism activities, with 30.1% of respondents either having ceased these activities or not participating in these activities to begin with.
96.3% of respondents said they felt the need to advocate due to their participation in the program, and the majority of participants rated that the program had a positive or extremely positive impact on them, with 123 people rating the impact as extremely positive and 32 rating it as positive. These two variables, both the impact of the program and asserting that the program made them feel the need to advocate, were shown to have an influence over whether or not the participants engaged in advocacy/activism, and to what extent.
From our results it is clear that those who did not engage in activism within the first six months of their return from Palestine were less likely to engage in it afterwards. Only 3 of the respondents began advocating after 6 months of their return and advocate today, where as 104 respondents began advocating within 6 months and continue to advocate today, and this relationship was shown to be statistically significant. Of those who had not begun or had ceased to continue advocacy, there were a number reasons given for this, including personal/unforeseen circumstances, lack of time and other commitments, the fact that it is difficult to keep up momentum, difficulty finding the right outlet, seeing advocacy as ineffective, and one participant stated that they simply did not want to advocate.
There were problems identified by our sample that should be addressed if the objective is to be fully achieved. The most striking issues were those involving problems with speakers and tour guides, and problems with home-stay accommodation.
Read the full study results.
This study was prepared by JAI volunteer: R. Reynolds.