Thursday, February 4th. On a sunny morning we get on Hamed’s jeep at Susya and travel up the road leaving to Havat Yair settler outpost and from there, descend to the Jinba valley. On the way, Ehud and Dani argue over the beauty of Jibba versus that of Toscana. For me it’s a first visit. On the way back I think that but for the occupation, this could be an amazing tourist-friendly village.
As we reach the center of the village, some 9-12 year-olds come out to welcome us. Dani is happy with their English. We follow Hamed to the ruins, piles of rubble of what – until two days ago – had been someone’s home. Ali comes out to greet us and tells us of his misfortune. The Israeli occupation forces demolished three structures belonging to him and his immediate family. Even the ownership document (kushan) dating from Ottoman empire days which Ali presented them did not suffice to prove to the occupation forces that his family has owned this land since his great-great-grandfather’s time. At the side, his two-year old grandson recognizes us and bursts out crying. He has not been able to sleep at night since the demolitions. Every noise startles him. Even the balloons that Dani hands him do not calm him down. Even his mother, a student of education at Yatta University, cannot sooth him, and only his grandmother hugs him and cries along with him… each trying to console the other in their misfortune.
On Sunday evening Hamed tells us that the Israeli authorities and the local inhabitants could not on agree on an exchange of land. Forty years ago the Israeli army declared the site a firing zone. Since then it has wanted the cave dwellers who have lived there for many generations to “get out of its sight”.
Monday morning the demolitions begin. What efficiency!
If bureaucracy inside Israel-proper were so efficient, the whole world would love to watch and learn…I don’t read/hear/watch the news., and I still cannot escape knowing that every single day something in our state happens based on the friction and frustration resulting from the Occupation and the shabby relations we established with our Arab neighbors, relations that unravels more every day, and if we don’t wake up soon, we will go blind. With sad eyes I look at the beauty and sadness of Jinba and wonder – is there not a single wise leader who would take a deep look at the state of things and see how this little child who has now experienced such irreversible trauma and will likely experience more to follow, will one day just give up and, in desperation, commit an act that will be reported on the news and bring on further punishment… Only last Thursday I met Odeh of Umm Al Kheir in the South Hebron Hills. He wants to learn Shiatsu, so at the edge of the football field we learned the touch, how to connect and open the heart. If we begin to act for peace and growing closer, together we can generate change. David, another member of the Villages Group, once told me his dream is for every Israeli to have one Palestinian friend whom he could call every day, and ask “How did you sleep, Mohammad? How is the family? Is everyone well?” I already have several such “Mohammads” and not only do I call them, they also call me (one even invited me over during the Gaza assault because he feared I was within missile range). What about you, have you a Palestinian friend?
May we all be able to experience peace and true calm in our present lives.