It’s cold. It’s raining. Aziza serves us hot tea.
Walla, Ahmad’s sister, who has been seen here before, is everywhere
After they leave, we almost forget them. Ahmad, who is studying at the Polytechnic in Hebron, talks about his exam in electricity tomorrow. He studies Hebrew there, too, and takes the opportunity to discuss with Li those pesky Hebrew nouns that are masculine but have feminine plural forms.
So we don’t notice them again until they are close.
In answer to Ahmad he says, with no trace of irony, “What kind of values are you teaching this child?
We are on the other side of Al-‘Auja from Mevo’ot Yericho where we were Friday. On Saturday in South Hebron, it was cold and wet. Two days later, in the Jordan Valley, it is dry and hot. Today, when our presence seems sufficient to keep settlers from showing up to harass shepherds and scare away the sheep, and no police have come by to investigate . . .
The talk is mostly discouraging and only occasionally hopeful, all of it anxious. Everyone knows that today is just a reprieve. Many of the families are tired of constant harassment by settlers and indifference, or worse, from the police.
At one stop it is a woman who gives us tea. She impresses us with her seriousness about our shared mission and goals. As we leave, she thanks us one by one and looks especially closely at the two oldest among us.
“I fear for your children,” she says. In her experience, when a family member opposes the occupation, the whole family has to pay for it. I wonder if she has that in mind or whether this is her usual way of speculating on the future. It is moving but also surprising. Looking at me, she adds, “I am a mother, too.”
text and photographs margaret olin © 2018