Za’atar 

Last Wednesday too, October 16, 2019, Jaber gave us his heart-warming smile – a smile that is at one and the same time open and mysterious, bitter and sweet. I felt a certain silent longing to hold on to a hidden scarlet thread and follow it into the depths of the man’s soul reflected in his smile.

We first met him three months ago, days after the home of his older brother Muhammad was demolished at the outskirts of their hamlet – Khalat a-Dabeh.

The village is situated alone atop a high mountain overlooking a long ravine, wadi. The ravine (named Massafar Yatta by the Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills and Firing Zone 918 by the Israeli occupation forces) winds its way below cave-dwellers’ hamlets of a-Tuba a-Sfayee all the way to the village of Jinba. – Khalat a-Dabeh is far from the wadi, as well as from the various Jewish settler-colonies in this area. It had never known demolitions by the occupation forces before, nor ever been engaged in some altercation with the Jewish settler-colonists.

In July, without any warning, the Israeli army demolished the home of Jaber’s brother. We came for a visit two days later. Jaber smiled. A month ago his own home was demolished. We came to see him the next day, and he smiled.

As we visited him again yesterday (October 16), there was that special smile of his once more.

It was an autumn day yesterday. The sky was gray and a light drizzle had begun. Jaber opened the tiny tent he raised after the demolition where he could sit with guests (the family has made its temporary home inside a cave) and invited us in.

For a long while Jaber spoke to us of his feelings, his wonder, his pain over the demolished home, the destroyed trees he had planted with his own bare hands. What compassion was visible as his hands caressed the pomegranates that had dried up after a month of being detached from mother earth.

We began to walk towards our car, parked on the main dirt track, trudging among the piles of demolition rubble. Suddenly Jaber stopped, bent down, pointed to the tiniest green sprout making its way among the dirt and stones, and said: “this sprout is za’atar (thyme) that insists on living”.

I looked straight into his eyes and asked to permission to pose a question.

“Ask away”, he said.

“What holds you inside, what keeps you from feeling rage and hatred?” I asked.

“I tell myself that this is how things are under occupation” he answered, smiling with the modesty of those who know…

Erella

 

רימון מיובש בח'לת א-דבע.jpeg

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Comments

  • r.nash  On October 24, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    Thank you so much.RosemarySent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

  • Accompany Me  On October 25, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Thank you so much for this beautiful post.

    Please give Jabar greetings from Canada. It is good although the news is bad, demolition, to see someone so wise, determined and loving.

    In solidarity,

    Lenora Yarkie

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