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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.
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.Continue reading
I read that modern Hebrew borrowed the word balagan from Russian or Polish. In all three languages, balagan means utter chaos. But chaos came later in the town of Twaneh. This hot day began quietly in Wadi Jhesch, where we were the only disruption. A man who had been asleep in the back of his truck awoke at our approach and chatted with us in his excellent English.Continue reading
Sometimes trying to find Abu Isma‘il in the hills and wadis of Al-‘Auja is, well, like looking for a goat in a desert. The Rashaidi Bedouins of ‘Auja have names for every rocky hill and wadi, names that no one else knows, that appear on no map; and Abu Isma‘il usually has trouble telling me on the phone where he is with his flock. Finally, not long after dawn, we climb a few hills until we sight him, with his red keffiyeh, surrounded by sheep, sheep dogs, and one very young donkey.Continue reading
The village of ‘Ein Samiya is no more.Continue reading
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.”Continue reading
One momentous event took place during today’s grazing. I’ll tell you in a minute.