August 9, 2016
Demolition again. Another demolition. And again we were there.
A week ago, four people of Regavim (an association of Jewish settlers in the West Bank) “took a walk” in Umm Al Kheir. They roamed around feeling very much at home and took pictures. Old Maliha, who has already stopped counting the number of times her home has been demolished, said that their “stroll” was an omen of demolition. And today it happened. Without any prior notice. Usually the state authorities give prior notice. It does not make much difference, but does provide a moment to get ready emotionally. In such a state of total helplessness and zero ability to thwart injustice, even a moment to get ready emotionally is something.
The demolition bulldozers arrived at 6:30 a.m. Adults and children, babies and youngsters were still sleeping. Regavim activists, on the other hand, were already there with their video cameras across the fence of Carmel settlement (only 5-19 meters separate Carmel from Umm Al Kheir) to document their victory. When Maliha told me about this she could hardly control her voice. Their gloating hurt more than the demolition itself. Five homes were demolished: three – houses put up by the European Union after the demolitions this April, and two – homes built long ago by their owners.
Lords of the bulldozers, lords of the occupation, this many-armed octopus (Israeli government, army, police force, Civil Administration, settlers, their association…): the people whose homes you demolished today have names. These people have hands and feet, heads, faces. They have hearts. A life – Zyad and his wife, who have already had two demolitions since their wedding early this year, Aadel and Aamna and their five children, Maliha who no longer counts the many demolitions she has undergone, innocent Hadra and her only daughter Rima.
As soon as the soldiers came to destroy, they gripped Haj Sliman – Maliha’s husband and the village elder – and held him forcefully so he couldn’t move, and beat him up. As they gripped him tightly, the bulldozers crushed the measly shacks. And the children? See those sights again. Where will they take their own trauma?
Usually the process of writing helps me a bit to cope with my own trauma. Somehow the words manage to gather some of my rage and turn it into pain, and then into something like understanding that is even more painful, coming from helplessness. From realizing “there is nothing to be done”, or “What can we do?” as my friends say when their homes are demolished here and elsewhere and in answer to my question, “How do you hold on?” This time, however, this writing does not help me. Maybe Bertolt Brecht will help:
When Evil-Doing Comes Like Falling Rain (Bertolt Brecht)
Like one who brings an important letter to the counter after office
hours: the counter is already closed.
Like one who seeks to warn the city of an impending flood, but speaks
another language. They do not understand him.
Like a beggar who knocks for the fifth time at a door where he has four
times been given something: the fifth time he is hungry.
Like one whose blood flows from a wound and who awaits the doctor:
his blood goes on flowing.
So do we come forward and report that evil has been done us.
The first time it was reported that our friends were butchered there was a cry of horror.
Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was
no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread.
When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out “stop!”
When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become
unendurable the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.
From: Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness, ed. Carolyn Forché, Norton,1993. Trans. John Willett.
Erella, on behalf of the Villages Group