About ten years ago, my oldest son and my husband went on a trip to Israel/Palestine.  They witnessed apartheid and its searing injustice and returned home with stories that grieved us all.  But their dominant impression of the Palestinian people was of hospitality – amazing hospitality in some of the worst conditions.  They participated in a Palestinian wedding and the overflowing joy of the entire community in a celebration that lasted for days.  As they were leaving their host family, they asked what we in America could do to help and the answer was for us to support Palestinian businesses so that families could make a living.

A few years later, my sister gave me a bottle of Zatoun olive oil as a Christmas present.  She included the brochure.  I went to the local fair trade store (which is very small) and asked if they could order Zatoun oil.  They weren’t sure.  I decided to order oil on my own and give it as Christmas presents – and that began my commitment to Zatoun oil.

Besides selling wonderful oil and offering the promise of planting trees, Zatoun offers the radical hospitality of Palestine in the way they treat customers.  The first time I ordered the oil, I received the shipment of a box before I had even sent my check!  That doesn’t happen in my country!  I love being trusted as a customer.

For me, buying Zatoun oil is a statement of hope: hope that someday this terrible apartheid will end, that someday Palestinian families will enjoy the freedom and justice they so deserve, that someday Palestine will be recognized as a nation in its own right and will be able to live side by side with Israel as neighbors and friends.  I know that day is a long way off, but with every drop of oil I use, I utter a prayer of blessing for the Palestinian people and a prayer for peace.

Joni Laney has been a long time customer and lives in Tennessee