I had been reading about Palestine and the Israeli occupation for more years than I can count, yet the Olive Picking programme was more informative, educational and instructive than any of the books I had relied upon to gain some knowledge of the conflict. It was not so much the hard factual information that I heard, although this was invaluable, but it was the observation of life as it is lived by people under occupation, that left an indelible impression on me; my mind, my heart, my soul. Apartheid is an accurate term for what I witnessed.
Empathy alone cannot address this, even if it is a good start. I could tell you about the act of picking olives, which is always difficult and sometimes even life-threatening for the farmers. I could say I have heard the most tender references to small living creatures out of the mouths of the same farmers. But instead I will say that I have realised I have a responsibility as a fellow human being, to do what I can to end this state of affairs.