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US-based holistic health center to hold ‘juice fast retreat’ in Israeli settlement

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Tree of Life is a progressive center located in Patagonia, Arizona run by Dr. Gabriel Cousens, a holistic medicine practitioner with a wide following, including several celebrities (actor Woody Harrelson called Dr. Cousens “probably the greatest living health practitioner”).  Tree of Life focuses on vegan lifestyle, peace, spirituality, meditation and many other alternative approaches to body-mind-spirit healing and healthy living.

I once spent a weekend at Tree of Life and very much enjoyed and appreciated the center’s practices and philosophy.

I am on the organization’s email list and received an email announcing a retreat at the Dead Sea –

Tree of Life has an Israeli branch which offers a 9 day de-tox juice fast retreat that Dr. Cousens regularly attends. The retreat is held in Almog Village.

Almog Village  a/k/a  Almog Kibbutz Hotel is located and run by the Kibbutz Almog.  The Kibbutz Almog is located in the occupied territories, which means it is an illegal Israeli settlement. Here Julia Wedgle writes about Kibbutz Almog which she visited as part of a Birthright trip:

The most hypocritical part of Birthright for me was the time we spent in the West Bank. You are probably asking yourself what; I thought Birthright doesn’t go to the West Bank. Wrong, we went twice. We went to the Ahava factory and a Dead Sea beach in the heart of the West Bank. Were we told we were in the illegally occupied West Bank? No way, it was only after that I learned this. I later learned that not only is the Ahava factory located in the West Bank but also it is a major boycott target of the BDS movement I now support. Then, the worst offense came, we stayed in a settlement. That’s right, we stayed in an illegal Israeli settlement, Kibbutz Almog. I later learned that Kibbutz Almog, built in 1977, in the Jordan Valley was built on top of a main water vain serving Jericho. But we were told it was not a settlement, explicitly, because “it is legal under Israeli law and settlements refer to illegal communities.”

It is unfortunate that allies in the quest for peace do not understand that their  well-intentioned actions have adverse consequences for thousands of Palestinians as well as global citizens who advocate the implementation of international law.   It is unfortunate that Tree of Life appears to be oblivious to the BDS movement.

Colleen McGuire

Colleen McGuire has been involved in the Israel-Palestine issue since 1975 when she spent three months there. She was a member of the National Lawyers Guild's Middle East Committee. She participates in Follow the Women bicycle rides for peace in the Middle East.

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3 Responses

  1. seafoid on August 29, 2013, 10:56 am

    I guess some of the people who frequent the courses have reservations about eating meat. It takes something like 15000 litres of water to make 1 pound of beef . Each hour of peace at that settlement requires at least 15000 man hours of human rights abuses.

  2. Pamela Olson on August 29, 2013, 11:32 am

    Ugh. I sent them an email at their contact page:


    I just want to register my displeasure with your decision to hold a week-long event at an illegal Israeli settlement.

    I was lucky enough to live in Israel/Palestine for two years, in part working with Palestinian farmers and Israeli peace activists. Your decision, which legitimizes a major violation of international law that enables countless human rights violations, is troubling to say the least for anyone who supports peace in Israel/Palestine.

    I attended a week-long meditation retreat in the West Bank at a school called Talitha Kumi that was very healing to many involved — including an Israeli ex-soldier, who was welcomed and embraced. This is a much healthier way to spend time than either embracing or being in denial about human rights abuses and international law violations happening in part because people like you help normalize a brutal occupation.

    I urge you to reconsider, if not this year than as soon as you possibly can. It is sad and ironic for a healer to help keep open a deep and festering wound.

    Thanks for your consideration,

  3. PeaceThroughJustice on August 30, 2013, 5:23 pm

    A question on stylistics:

    In stories like this I’m always curious why an author would refuse to identify the protagonist’s ethnic identity. To my way of thinking it’s like telling a joke and leaving out the punch line.

    But I suppose there could be possible reasons for the reticence: 1) Everyone at this site would already assume it; 2) Cousens’s chosen identity has no relevance; 3) It may be relevant, but it would be “antisemitic” to mention it; 4) Even if not “antisemitic” in itself, mentioning his Jewishness might unleash antisemitism in others with weak minds.

    I’m curious, what is the consensus here at Mondoweiss?

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