Certain Uncertainty

February 5, 2018

When a house is demolished, a part of its owner’s soul is demolished along with it.

When one expects the demolition of a house that one knows for certain will be demolished, just not when exactly – its owner’s soul is demolished even before the house is.

Indeed, the certainty we possess in life is made up of moments of illusion. But these are a must in order for us to live in a reality that by its very nature is anything but certain.
Life under occupation drains the occupied person of such necessary moments of illusion. One can no longer plan even the most banal things in life.

Life in Area C (Palestinian areas under total Israeli control) reduces such certainty even further, so that one has hardly any more control left over one’s life. It means living for years under an injunction, living in the meantime, until Occupation Empire will rule on the matter – this is an uncertainty that the human spirit can hardly contain. Life under certain uncertainty brings the human spirit to the very limits of its capacity.

The threat of demolitions hovering over Susya residents for quite some time now is an uncertain certainty, whose certainty is gradually tightening around their soul.
Last Thursday, Israel’s Supreme Court of Justice ruled that out of humanitarian considerations, seven structures will be demolished – for the time being – of the twenty structures which the State has instructed to demolish. Since that day, certainty is certain to such an extent that even those destined to be demolished later want to have this behind them already. Now begins the real torment, the hours of grace of the ‘enlightened’ occupier. The ultimate control over the victim – no one knows precisely what will be demolished and when.

Now Susya runs its everyday life with the presence of human rights organizations all day and night, planning how to face impending doom, with a heavy cloud of pressure threatening to burst one’s heart.

On Friday, the demolition bulldozers did not arrive, and on Saturday Jews refrain from demolitions on account of the holiness of the Blessed Sabbath… So we are all prepared for Sunday at dawn.

On Saturday night we came, Nadav and I, ready to spend the night with Abu Sadam and his wife Najah, whose home is on the list of houses to be demolished en masse (one must arrive in the evening beforehand, for if demolition takes place in the morning, the village will be out of bounds, the army closes all entrances). We visit these people on our regular weekly rounds, and they have become dear friends.

Abu Sadam is a handsome, sturdy man, dignified and very ill. Cancer has taken over his face. He has tasted the bitter taste of chemotherapy only under pressure of his children, and decided this was not for him. “I’ll live until I die, but without this suffering,” he told them. His wife Najah, smiling and goodhearted, is a model wife.

We reached them in the evening, dined with them in their tidy tent, and together we watched the news on television, including a respectable item on Susya. Najah was one of the interviewees, and she smiled her gentle, modest smile when seeing herself on the television screen.

In 2011 their home was demolished and they rebuilt it. In 2012 their home was demolished again, and yet again they put it up, and now it will be demolished and they will come back and rebuild. “Where shall we go?” they say. “And what will become of our herd, and the chickens, and our calf?” In the morning we rose before them. Even on nights without certain demolition, Abu Sadam does not sleep soundly because of his illness, so he is not an early riser.

We sat outside in their beautiful fruit tree grove. We listened to the sounds of the morning and watched the sunrise, that daily event that occurs with certain certainty.
Susya rises to its daily tasks. Even Abu Sadam and Najah. They immediately put on their boots and took their flock out of the pen and into a broad yard which Abu Sadam has fenced with old tires. “The sheep must eat”, he said with the simplicity of a veteran farmer. “20 lambs died on us from the cold two weeks ago” he said, taking out the two lambs that survived the storm. Another two lambs were born five days ago, and their mother has no milk. So they carry the lambs to the teats of another sheep. After the sheep were fed, we ate, as if this were a regular morning. Last night, while thinking (they and we) how we face the demolishers if they arrive in the morning, we thought we’d invite them to join us for breakfast. Now, outside, we’re enjoying this delicious breakfast prepared by Najah, watching the road, and Abu Sadam says: “So why aren’t they here? We wanted to invite them for breakfast…” Humor is the highest spiritual level man can reach, says Abraham Maslow…

We look at Anu Sadam’s and his wife’s possessions – one tent for cooking and hosting, another tent for sleeping, a sheep pen, feed storage for the livestock, a lavatory, and a water tank donated by the European Union, and their beautiful yard. So what will be demolished of all of these? Unclear as yet. When exactly? Unclear. It could happen at any moment.

This is a gap on the border of containment, a rift between the idyll of the dawning morning and the tension rising inside one’s mind. Najah says: “I’m doing everything like an automat today. The living want to live. We, the animals. But I keep thinking about this demolition.”

Later, when we’ll sit in the yard of Azam and Wadha, his wife, dear friends of ours, also targeted for demolition, together with Abu Sadam and Najah and Nasser (who is like a son to me), he will steal a moment from the meetings and think-tanks in order to sit with us for a little while. He will quote lines from Byalik’s famous poem – “The sun shines, the mimosa blooms, and the butcher slaughters”. After we translate these paralyzing verses written about the pogroms that victimized Jews many years ago, we will say to each other that the difference is not between Palestinians and Israelis, but between those whose heart refuses to hate and those whose heart is shut and have lost all touch of compassion and love.

Then Abu Sadam will tell jokes, and in between he will say to me: “The worst pressure for me is that I must accept this.”

I repeat the sentence to check with him whether I understood him right. He shakes my hand with the warmth of those who know.

And the encounter with helplessness continues.
And the accumulating pain. Where will they take it?
And the protest, the resentment,
When the master destines you to doom??

Erella (on behalf of the Villages Group)


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