November 24, 2023     Wadi Jḥeish. Text: David Shulman, Photographs: Margaret Olin and David Shulman

Wadi Jḥeish, 2018. Photograph: Margaret Olin

Toward sunset we arrive, Yigal, Koby, and I. It’s my first time in Wadi Jḥeish (probably “Valley of the Mules”):  a tiny hamlet of some 60 souls, all part of the large Nawaja‘ family that we know from nearby Susiya. Houses of cement blocks and stucco with flat roofs of aluminum and plastic. A trellis of dry grapevines. Potted plants and small garden plots of desert flowers. Rock underfoot. Two tall water tanks behind the houses, higher up the hill.  A sheep pen. A few trees, including a small olive grove. Many children. From every spot you stand or sit, a wide-open stretch of the brown, stone-ripe hills. They’ve never been more ravishing. The village has changed since Peg saw it in 2018, when it was mostly tents; it’s more solid now, but no less vulnerable. Someone has drawn and painted red and white hearts, lots of them, on both sides of the door to the kitchen and sitting room, where we are to sleep. There’s also an inscription: baytkum ‘āmir bi’l-afrāḥ, May your house be filled with celebrations.

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Wadi a-Siq, September 14, 2023. Text by David Shulman

The school at Wadi a-Siq in July. photograph: Margaret Olin
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Ein Rashash, September 4, 2023. text: David Shulman

Ein Rashash, 2018, photograph: Margaret Olin

Like so many Palestinian villages in the central West Bank, between Ramallah and Jericho, Ein Rashash is hanging by a thread in the perilous space between life and death. A massive program of ethnic cleansing is taking place before our eyes. Israeli settlers, religious in some perverted sense of the word, have perfected very effective methods to reach their goal. Readers of this blog are familiar with some of them.

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September 1, 2023, Al-‘Auja: Text by David Shulman

avant-propos: Next year Intellect Press will publish The Bitter Landscapes of Palestine, a book of photographs and texts inspired by our work on this blog. Please consider donating to our kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the book. The campaign ends September 27. You can see our video, read our story and donate at this link.

photograph: Rita Mendes-Flohr
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‘Ein Samiya, Al Baqa’a‘, Wadi a-Siq, July 19, 2023. Text and photographs: Margaret Olin


Two days ago occupation forces demolished the school in ‘Ein Samiya.

The school was the only building left standing in May when the villagers packed up and fled. In one of our posts, David Shulman related how, after months of terrorism by Jewish settlers, the occupation forces dealt the final blow by handing over a whole flock of sheep to settlers. I had not seen `Ein Samiya, so in July, when I came to Jerusalem, I asked activist Arik Ascherman, director of the NGO Torat Tzedek, to take me there. He readily agreed. Now feels like the right moment to post these pictures.

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May 19, 2023.  ‘Auja. Text by David Shulman

Photograph: Margaret Olin, 2022

Dawn. Several children still asleep in their blankets, on the ground outside the house. Good desert smells. The older girls are beginning their chores: water has to be brought from the tanker; milk is being churned, or perhaps pasteurized, in what could be a repurposed washing-machine. There is a new baby, two months old, sleeping in her crib. Ghazal, maybe a year and a half old, holds a glass of tea in her hand while her eyes, obsidian black, study Yigal and me with unwavering interest. Then a smile.  Nadia asks if we’ve been well. Yigal answers with the blessing: “‘aishin min shafek,” “We come alive when we see you.”

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Muarrajat, January 20, 2023. Text: David Shulman

‘Auja, May, 2022. Photograph: Margaret Olin

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.

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