Sunday, November 28

The oil pen in Palestine – a Salafi tradition par excellence… What do you know about it?

The meeting to include the oil pen is held at the “mulberry tree”, which is the oldest place in the center of Salfit, and is attended by farmers, the agricultural committee, guarantors, passers-by and anyone who wants to watch.

sulfite- The olive harvest season has come to an end in the city of Salfit (northern West Bank), and Palestinian Muhammad Shtayyeh is waiting for a task no less tiring and miserable than his work. Where he begins to collect the fruits of his olives after he pledged the “oil pen” this year.

The “oil pen” has been known to Salfit for more than a century, and it is like a symbolic fee that the guarantor of the pen levies from farmers after the end of the harvest to spend in exchange for services provided to them throughout the year, especially during the olive season.

A citizen harvests his olives near a settlement south of Nablus (Al-Jazeera)

Through a popular protocol that is usually conducted before the time of the olive harvest; The warranty auction was awarded to Shtayyeh to go through his first experience after 4 previous attempts during which he sought to guarantee the oil pen, and he tells Al Jazeera Net that he feels very proud as he preserves the legacy of his father and grandfather in preparing and participating in this tradition.

The amount of the guarantee and its exchange channels

The amount of the guarantee for the oil pen for this year – an amount owed on his purchase – was estimated at 3850 Jordanian dinars (the dollar is equivalent to 0.71 dinars). While the amount owed by each farmer is set at 3 Jordanian piasters for each kilo of oil he produces (about 5 US dollars per 100 kilos of oil) determined by the agricultural committee in the city and not the guarantor of the pen.

Ibrahim Al-Hamad is a farmer and member of the former agricultural committee in Salfit - West Bank - Salfit - Photo from guest to Al Jazeera Net - Al Jazeera Net 1Ibrahim Al-Hamad is a farmer and member of the former agricultural committee in Salfit (Al-Jazeera)

This committee, which is no less than the age of the oil pen, is also responsible for calling for a general conference before the olive season to elect or recommend a new committee whose first function is to set a date for the oil pen auction, which takes place publicly and all the people of the city are invited to it.

From now on, Shtayyeh began to accompany whoever he chooses to help him in this task by collecting fees from any farmer who finishes his harvest directly, which has become easy compared to the past, in light of the accurate and electronic counting of the names of farmers and their production quantities at the Municipal Council and olive presses.

And there is no one who refuses to pay from the farmers, but one of them may be late in paying what he owes for some time, and there are those who call to invite him to collect the fees at any place he finds in the city.

The guarantor of the oil pen must estimate well the quantity of the crop expected to be produced, and in order to avoid any losses, he must benefit from the experience of farmers and the elderly in estimating the quantity of the season to set the appropriate guarantee value, and what exceeds the amount of the guarantee will be a profit for him.

The “City of Olives”, Salfit, was distinguished among the cities of Palestine by the General Conference for Farmers, which is held annually before the season.

Atef Daghlas - a farmer separating leaves from olives - West Bank - Nablus - Al Jazeera Net 11A farmer separating the leaves from the olives (Al-Jazeera)

The goal is to preserve the tradition

And by imitating my Salafis too; The meeting of including the oil pen is held at the “mulberry tree”, the oldest place in the city center, attended by farmers, the agricultural committee, guarantors, passers-by, and anyone who wants to watch.

The guarantor is the one who pays the value of the highest guarantee between the competitors, which takes place in a civil atmosphere of love and cooperation, and it is stipulated that he is from the city itself and knows its lands well, especially its borders and the quantity of its production.

The elected agricultural committee, according to the words of its former member, Ibrahim Al-Hamad, in addition to including the oil pen, is responsible for disbursing the guarantee funds to serve the farmers and appointing “green people” (land guards) in return for a certain fee to prevent theft of fruits and tampering with the land and building roads to facilitate farmers’ access to their land and reap their crops.

Al-Hamad says to Al-Jazeera Net that the purpose of including the oil pen is not material gain as much as it is a beautiful tradition that they preserve, and for this the Agricultural Committee supports the guarantor of the pen and compensates for his loss if the amount of production disappoints his hopes.

The meeting of the Agricultural Committee with the guarantors of the oil pen and the people of Salfit to include the oil pen - West Bank - Salfit - downtown - photo from guest - Al Jazeera Net2With an old tradition, the meeting of the Agricultural Committee is held with the guarantors of the oil pen and the people of Salfit to include the oil pen under the mulberry tree (Al-Jazeera)

The mayor will be the head of the agricultural committee, and one of the municipality’s members is a member of it, in addition to 7 or 9 farmers, and they discuss together any problems facing the citizens and seek to solve them, and they pay special attention to the olive tree by setting the date and mechanism of picking and supporting the marketing of the oil product.

The guarantor of the oil pen is only required to collect fees and report any violation committed by farmers, while the committee assumes its role by addressing the attacks of settlers and wild boars that they release and filing complaints and lawsuits against the occupation’s confiscation of the land, as well as issuing violations against those who steal the fruits or are early in the season before the appointed time. .

The city of Salfit has an estimated population of about 15,000 people, most of whom work in agriculture, and its land area is estimated at 28,000 dunams, and most of it is cultivated with olives. local ie less productive.

Salfit produces between 350 and 500 tons of olive oil in the good season (Al-Jazeera)

Old era

With this annual tradition, the Salafis preserve their olives and protect their land. For this reason, Hajj Mahmoud Odeh (Abu Ayman) continues to pay the annual fees for his oil production, which amount to about two tons of oil annually.

Since his childhood, the era of Abu Ayman (84 years old) imitated the oil pen, and he tells Al Jazeera Net that he lived with the end of the British rule and during the Jordanian rule of the West Bank, and the old man hopes that this custom will continue to exist and his tasks will branch out throughout the year.

At that time, money was collected and paid to the land keepers, whose job was also to prevent the early harvest of the olives, or to use sticks instead of manual picking, or to leave the cattle to graze on the wooded land to preserve them.

In the face of this, the Salafis hope to follow the example of other Palestinian villages and cities, with such traditions aimed at preserving the land, especially in light of the fierce attack against it at the hands of the occupation and its settlers.

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