Our Visit to Wadi Jheish

When we get to Wadi Jheish (the southern part of Palestinian Susya) I leap at Tamam. Our hug embodies all the tenderness in the world. Today it is also enveloped by the soft breezes and fragrances of autumn. Even on the news, their soft part, we were told that at noon first rains would fall. So the soft colors of the morning wrap the tenderness of our embrace, as does the caressing smile of Haj Khaleel, heading towards us from the hill. How the heart longs to surrender to this softness, even as it knows how fragile it is in these areas.

Into all this tenderness, a Civil Administration off-road vehicle bursts from the ravine. Tamam and I tighten our hug and sense its softness tensing up. Haj Khaleel and Nadav tense up as well. Nothing special will happen now. No blows, no bloodshed, no one will be arrested, no heads will fall. But the soul is to be beheaded. A chronicle foretold of Civil Administration presence.

An official disembarks. Climbs a few meters up the hill towards one of the structures and photographs it. Tamam, Khaleel, Ghaliya (wife of their son Hisham) and we – are all dust at his feet. No. Not even that. Insects. Not even. Simply nonexistent. Transparent. It is an incredible sight. The second official disembarks. In an unusual act he mutters “Hello”. (When Nadav says to them in a moment, “But we can talk, can’t we?” he will say, “What, didn’t I say hello?”).

The first walks over to a new caravan, built with the help of an international organization for Hisham and Ghaliya whose dwelling was demolished by the Civil Administration in June, at the beginning of the Ramadan month of fasting.


He produces a form ordering them to halt all work (the precursor of demolition) and has Haj Khaleel sign it. I try to prevent the Haj from signing without knowing precisely what he signs, but he does, experienced and familiar with the process. In a few moments, when the Civil Administration officials will leave the place, the details of the familiar form will be rather strange. But we are not there yet.

The tenderness stood on its hind legs facing the stiffness of those who are right – a tight stiffness, flawless, dripping contempt and hatred. Tenderness – born of love – does not wish to give up its essence, the right to proper respect of all God’s creatures, including those of the species called human. So I stand there with my tenderness that will not cease and softly, tenderly putter towards the first official: “Monster!”

Nothing happens to him for, as I said, I am transparent for him. But it helps me contain the borders of the wound I allow their right stiffness to leave in me.

They leave. We enter the caravan that as of today is destined for demolition, with the right to appeal with will surely be rejected (a fictive procedure of the stiffs in order to protect themselves. From Whom?)

We go over the form that is named “halting all work” and notice essential details that are not true. (Perhaps this will serve their attorney in the ridiculous game whose rules are set only by the master).

We see how the soft expression of our beloved friends is mixed with the familiar shade of helplessness – a tremendous pain that has no outlet and becomes anger that has no outlet and reaches the dangerous junction where it might turn into unlimited aggression.

And I tell them how I said “monster” and invite them now, sitting inside the home, to shriek “monster!” (in Arabic: ghula). They eagerly comply and everyone let out their ghoula. Rather polite, but still freeing some of the inner suffocation that paralyzes the soul.

I asked (a question I have already posed in the past and still emerges authentically):

Where do you get this power to experience all of this over and over again without going numb and becoming aggressive? The Haj said: what can we do? Tamam and Ghaliya said this was from God. Ibrahim (a neighbor and Khaleel’s nephew who has come to support them) said: When the settlers beat me up four years ago next to my own home at 6 a.m., I felt how I was being filled with a power that came to me from the outside”. Perhaps this was what the women had meant when they said: from God. Some cosmic power that watches over good souls not to lose their godliness. And they do not. They do not become aggressive, but nor do they lose their godliness into the victim apparatus. When I expressed my revulsion of the Civil Administration official, and said: “”He was so callous and stiff that even his eye didn’t move”, Haj Khaleel added: “But when he wrote some words on the form, still his hand trembled”…

What a tremendous heart this man has, how much independent dignity, what persistent trust. 

Thank you, my teachers, yet again.

And to our dear readers, I apologize that our letters repeat themselves, and contain no refreshing news. 

Such is the reality that inspires them. These stories need to emerge from us in order for us to remain sane. So I thank you too for your cooperation.


Erella (and Nadav and Ehud)


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  • Accompany Me  On November 8, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    Thank you for this inspiring account of courage. Their story, your words and thoughts touch my soul. I spend time in Wadi J’heish in 2011 with EAPPI. I know the family and Ibrahim and Alia somewhat better. Please give them my blessings. I will share your blog.

  • chrisrushlau  On November 9, 2016 at 3:28 am

    The official was not right. He was racist. Racism is by definition illegal. Racism is a slightly inapt term for arbitrary distinctions among person under color of law. I presume you’re saying there is a web of statutes and regulations under which this structure is not right, a web which is not racist on its face. I always say, people do not call Israel a Jewish state for nothing. Somewhere in that web you will find an arbitrary distinction which works its way through to this official with his trembling hand.

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