Olive Tree Donation

October and November are the season of the olive harvest in Israel. With the beginning of the harvest, the olive presses celebrate the “Olive Festival”. Those celebrations could have been held in all of the JNF forests if its plan to plant olive forests in Palestine had succeeded.
Document about olive tree donation of Lilienblum, 1913In contrast to Europe, which is covered in forests, the lands of Palestine were deserted in the early 20th century. Theodor Herzl visited Palestine on 1898 and noted the absence of a forest landscape. Other figures in the Zionist movement thought the same, and in 1904 it was decided to launch a forestation operation in Palestine with the help of donations from Jews around the world. The JNF allocated land for this purpose and the olive tree was selected for planting due to the profit its fruit would give. The fundraising was conducted by the JNF in collaboration with the “Olive Tree Fund”.
A year after the death of Theodor Herzl, Otto Warburg declared at the seventh Zionist Congress that the forests planted in Palestine would be named after Herzl. Warburg managed to increase the amount of donations to the fund. The “Olive Tree Fund” began implementing the plan, but encountered problems. A suitable location for the planting of the “Herzl Forest” was not found, and attempts to plant olive trees in various locations (Hadera, Hulda and Ben Shemen) did not succeed. The delay in the planting of the “Herzl Forest” led to public criticism regarding the fund and the way it handled donations. Subsequently, the JNF was given authority over the fund.
The head of the JNF, Max Bodenheimer, arrived to Palestine in 1912. He realized that planting olive trees was not financially worthwhile; nor was it suitable agriculturally. Therefore he decided to change the policy of the JNF: it would plant trees that did not bear fruit, instead of olive or other fruit-bearing trees, and give up any future financial profit. Bodenheimer believed that improving the landscape of Palestine was more important, and that a public company was needed to achieve this goal.