Umm Rashid, the most intrepid of the ‘Auja shepherdesses, has sold off most of her sheep and goats. I don’t have all the details; a close friend of hers sold her herd a few months earlier. I assume she couldn’t take any more of the ceaseless harassment, beatings, and threats from the settlers. But I don’t think this is the end of the story.Continue reading
Jibrin says, “I hardly ever sleep. Maybe an hour in the night.”
“Because of the settlers?” I say.
“Yes. I’m afraid. A thousand times they have told me they will slaughter me.”Continue reading
Just after dawn, the air still cold; Umm Rashid tells us on the phone that she plans to take the herd deeper into the hills, closer to the big settlement, where there’s more edible green on the ground. Good, we say, we’re with you. But it takes some time before we find each other in the open spaces of the desert. A second herd, Nawal’s, is just visible on the top of the ridge.Continue reading
Sometimes reality reveals itself in a few stark images.
By 8:00 when we arrive at Simri, some twenty soldiers are already waiting for us.Continue reading
Umm Al-‘Ara’is. We must see at least twenty soldiers. The first few are friendly. They say they’d been stationed in the territories for four months. When Zev asks them to describe their duties, one of them answers, “stopping people randomly from going to work.” This sets a pattern for the day.Continue reading
“Why are these children so wild?” the soldier asked me.
“Could it be because their father has just been arrested?” I answer.
“And do you know why he was arrested? Because he was in a closed military zone.”
“But he was on his own land.”
“You are making me laugh.”
“So who’s land is it?”
“Have you never heard of Abraham? When he was here thousands of years ago, there weren’t any … Palestinians.” The pause before the word “Palestinian” seemed to express a certain distaste.Continue reading
Remember Sa’id and his many children who accompany him every week to the fields? I hadn’t seen them for nearly three years, but I could recognize them at a distance from Jibrin’s pastures (if you can call a rocky patch with a few scrubby thorns a “pasture”) as they arrived for their weekly visit on the ridge far above us. Then they descended into the next wadi and disappeared.Continue reading
Until the police came and started barking orders and pushing people, or rather until the first stun grenade set everybody running, the morning in the South Hebron Hills seemed reasonably peaceful.Continue reading
The laundry gets to me, its bright colors neatly arranged by size. French theorist Roland Barthes might have called it a “punctum.” That’s the heart-stopping detail in a photograph whose personal connection pierces you and holds you. And who doesn’t relate to laundry? But the “punctum” is not limited to photographs. To walk through these ruined households is to feel the same combination of dismay and recognition over and over again.Continue reading