Hajje Sara – In Memoriam (March 22.2016)

When the phone rings and I see the name “Nasser” on the screen, I tense up even before hearing his voice, and already see and hear bulldozers and soldiers in my mind, and cries of pain and loss in Susya and elsewhere. That is why I begin our conversation with “What happened?” The day before yesterday he called. “What happened?” I ask, and he reassures me: “Nothing, I just wanted to congratulate you on Mother’s Day. Here in Palestine today is “Mother’s Day” he added, and I stay silent for a moment, swallowing a tear that has slid down my throat. I send him a loving hug and kisses to the children.

Yesterday he called again. And I, as always: “What happened?” (After all, Mother’s Day is only one day a year). “There were demolitions in Jinba and in Taban”, Nasser says. I ask him for details in a stifled, pained voice, and he says: “But I didn’t call about that. I called to tell you that Hajje Sara passed away”. I was struck dumb.

I visited her not quite a week ago. She has not been in Susya for some months. I met her at her son’s home in Yatta. She was sitting on a bed in a room prepared especially for her – thinner than ever, constantly coughing up the violent cancer that spread in her lungs and does not let her breathe. We came to see her, Ehud, Danny and I. I went in first. When she saw me, she said: “I’m going”. Meaning: I’m done with my life. The doctors instructed the family not to tell her about her real condition but after all, one knows when the time is near. I hugged her. During our visit she was in full control as always and even got a bit annoyed (I said to her: “Hajje, now I really begin to feel I’m visiting you”). She smiled. Her daughters-in-law and grandchildren gathered in her room and we sat there as we used to in her tent, as she conducted the occasion and urged the daughters-in-law to hurry up and bring us the migele she planned for us as a reminder of the mutabak of the days we used to visit her in Susya and she would bake for us. (Migele and mutabak are Palestinian pastries). Between coughs she asked about my children and grandchildren.

A special friendship was struck between the two of us ever since I first began to visit Susya in 2003.

Hajje Sara was a determined woman, and if I may, I would dare say she was a hard woman – hard as life is in Susya. Hard like the ground she tilled and sowed and harvested, and like the harsh hours of freezing winter cold and exhausting summer heat during which she herded her flock alone ever since she was widowed about 11 years ago. Sara and the earth were one – in her life as in her death.

Sara bravely withstood the unfriendly visits of settlers from the Jewish settlement of Susya who came to her land.  This woman – who, in her youth (1950) experienced her first expulsion from the Gariten region where she was born and raised, and then survived the Susya expulsions – would not agree to be expelled yet again. When it comes to Sara, “holding on to her land” is no literary metaphor. Hajje Sara’s hardiness and obstinacy sometimes affected her human relations. At times she behaved with people close to her in a way that pained them. It would anger me (although it was never aimed at me or in my presence). It was precisely this anger of mine that validated what we both knew – that our relationship was personal and human, neither patronizing nor political.

My last visit was a leave-taking. Sara surrendered to the conciliatory, compassionate massage I gave her stiff back. We had closed a circle between us. This woman was powerful. I see her standing in a brittle, dry field in the middle of a droughty winter, I hear her old voice crack as she sings an ancient prayer to god begging for some rain…

I don’t know if olive oil can be preserved. I would like the bottle of olive oil she gave me at our meeting – knowing it was our last – to last forever as a souvenir…

Rest in peace, Sara. Rest in peace from your life struggles, from your worries, rest in peace from the settlers’ harassments, rest in peace from your loves and hatreds.

Everything is now open and loose like the ground after plowing…

In deep appreciation and gratitude for years of friendship,

Erella and Ehud


A Trip to the “Fresh” Ruins of Jinba

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.




Message and New Year’s Greetings from the Villages Group

To our friends and supporters,

At this time, as the year comes to an end and the New Year is almost here, normally we send you greetings written by our member Erella. This time, as Erella is convalescing from a back surgery, she has requested me to write you in her stead, but since I do not possess Erella’s special expressive gift, I write you instead a short summary of our activity.

These past months our activity has been affected by the escalation taking place throughout the West Bank. Consequently we have lately refrained from visiting Salem village near Nablus, where we have been active for the past thirteen years. Still we maintain our contact with our friends in Salem and continue to support the local music education center for children which we helped found six years ago. On the weekend of September 18-19 we hosted the founding team of this center – the director and the main instructor – in Tel Aviv and Kibbutz Shoval.

In the South Hebron Hills, the second and major region of our ongoing activity, the recent escalation has led to the blockage of roads connecting the outlying localities and the main cities of Yatta and Hebron (see photos attached). As a result of these blocks, free movement of the South Hebron Hills villagers has now been restricted and deteriorated to a state similar to what they experienced during the Second Intifada, in the first half of the previous decade.

This year, as in recent years, with your kind help we continued supporting different programs for the inhabitants of the South Hebron Hills: continued studies of college students, professional training for women, kindergartens, children’s summer camps and small development plans for local farmers. A precedent for us this year was our affiliation with the American organization Rebuilding Alliance as a diplomatic activity for the villages of the South Hebron Hills, and especially Susiya. In view of the severe threat of demolitions posed against Susiya, Rebuilding Alliance obliged our call and organized two delegation – with our participation – to political power vertices in Washington DC in June and September. The second delegation included two families – one from Susiya and the other from Umm al-Kheir. The joint effort of the Palestinian villagers and their supporters in Israel and worldwide, an effort to which our participation in the delegations was our modest contribution, led to the suspension of the demolitions in Susiya, which the Civil Administration had declared ready to carry out in the summer.

Even in the present state of escalation that affects life’s reality in our parts, we persist in our weekly visits to some of the tiny hamlets of the South Hebron Hills. The routine of these weekly visits focuses on maintaining ongoing personal ties with the inhabitants for over ten years now, and is the core activity of our tiny group. Our other activities, including those that reach even Washington, always begin from the cave and the tent and go back to them week by week. Over the years we have had the pleasure to have quite a few of you join us once or more in these weekly visits. Joining the visits is the most effective way of familiarizing oneself with the reality of life in the South Hebron Hills area and to the way we connect with it. We are always glad to have you join us there. Please see photos of the visit we held lately, joined by guests from the Quaker lobby, in the following linkhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/7399630@N03/sets/72157660985907170

A few words from Erella:

From the very fountain of our strength, with and despite emotional, mental, spiritual exhaustion, we persist and repeatedly bring to our connection with our Palestinian friends  – for that is the right thing to do –

our loving greetings and blessings for Christmas and the New Year. 

Ehud, on behalf of the Villages Group (Erella, Hamed, Dani, Eyal, David, Fiona, Nadav, Ophir and Limor)


Eyal Shani’s Reflections on the Current Situation

My Feeling on the Current Situation

To All my friends

to my International friends,

to my Israeli friends

and especially to

my dear Palestinians friends.

I returned home this evening after the first Shiatsu class this year. We were a group of good people; there was a good atmosphere, a sense of purpose and goodwill, caring and kind: something that is so lacking now in the Israeli-Palestinian reality.  Instead of “love your friend as yourself”, there is a developing over-reaction among individuals and groups who are trying to eliminate anyone who is not “one of us”.  Where are we going? How far can hatred and evil reach in the world? How do we stop or transform the avalanche?

I was going to go tomorrow with members of the Villages Group to visit Palestinian friends at Susiya, Umm al-Kheir and al-Twane – but, I got a call from Erella who told me that Nasser requested that we not come tomorrow.  He said, “the situation is calm at the moment, but could change at any moment. And if misfortune stumbled upon the wrong place at the wrong time – it can end badly.  We need you to live.”

“Life!”  I think the question is “what kind of life”?  Right now everyone is under tremendous pressure to entrench themselves, and for each group to take comfort in itself, separating itself from others and destroying anyone who tries to say something, protest, or show emotion.  Right now I feel the need to visit my Palestinian friends even more urgently than before.

Please note that I am against any bloodshed, violence and other means to hurt someone. On the contrary, I condemn all manifestations of violence whatsoever, but we also feel the fuse runs out and there is no pause. Anyone who challenges the status quo – even in conversation, poster, condemnation or demonstration where violence is not part of the protest – is met with a disproportionate response, which perpetuates the cycle of violence.

I feel exhausted from the realities we live in now.

Lucky I have friends from the “other Group “. We can talk to them eye to eye and say what hurts each other, to empathize with the pain, and together we can hope for better days for everyone.

May the coming days bring peace to all.

Would that we can accept ourselves and others equally?

May we open our hearts so we can bypass “labels” and “headlines” and arbitrary decisions that recycle the history of hatred that takes root and prevents us from sharing a good life together in the “Holy Land – the land of milk and honey”.

May it be quiet here.

I wish there will be peace now!

I Wish you all a quite Night.

Love with a tear,


14 October 2015

South Mount Hebron Delegation to the US

Below are several reports from the visit of several villagers, villages group representatives and Rebuilding Alliance team the DC and NYC. All reports courtesy of Fiona Wright.

Six residents of the South Hebron Hills will travel together with two members of the Villages Group landed today in the U.S for a tour in Washington D.C. and New York City. Their ten-day trip is organised by our friends in the US ‘Rebuilding Alliance’. Fatma Nawajeh and her son Hamoudi and nephew Aysar from Susiya, and Ni’meh and Eid Hatheleen and their daughter Sadeen from Umm al-Kheir, will spend a week meeting with Congress men and women and Senators in Capitol Hill to tell their stories and represent the residents of South Hebron Hills and their struggle against demolition orders and the actions of the occupation authorities. Aysar and Sadeen will present the ‘Pinwheels for Peace’ project in these meetings, in which children from Susiya and Umm al-Kheir took part in June 2015.
The visit corresponds with International Peace Day, September 21st, and so we will take the chance to get the attention of policymakers and media in the United States about the struggles in the South Hebron Hills region. Apart from meeting with politicians there will be chances to talk with supporters and community members in Washington and in New York City, as well as a little time for sightseeing and having fun together in the two cities. The group will be accompanied by David Massey and Fiona Wright from the Villages Group who will help to present the work of the group in the region and to report on the tour.

On Monday we woke up early to get ready for the briefing in Capitol Hill at 12.00. The briefing was an open meeting in one of the house offices to which staff members of representatives of congress were invited, as well as members of the public. We had an hour to present and about 50 people attended – a mix of congress staffers, campaigners and friends in DC. Each member of the delegation, including the kids Aysar and Sadeen, talked during the briefing, each explaining a different part of the story of South Hebron Hills and the demolitions and expulsions. Naima told the crowd about what happened when her mother’s house was demolished in Umm al-Kheir and how her daughter Leen suffered for months after that day and what she witnessed there. Her talk was incredibly moving and later she explained that she feels a responsibility to represent the women and families of her village and region and to explain to the people she is meeting in the US about what these experiences do to people in her community. Fatma spoke about Susiya and how her childhood was marked by her family being expelled from the archeological site area in Susiya in 1986. She explained how her family and community have been affected by the demolitions happening over and over again. Eid spoke about the wider situation in South Hebron Hills and how so many Palestinian residents in the area live with the constant fear of demolition and the feeling of insecurity and anxiety that brings. He said how the reason they came to America was because they understood that the intervention of the State Department was crucial in postponing the demolitions in Susiya this year. He wanted to ask that Americans continue to ask their representatives to put pressure on Israel to stop the demolitions. David then spoke as a member of the Villages Group and explained how he was inspired by his friends in the South Hebron Hills and that where he finds hope is with them, and that he had come to ask that people from countries like the US and Israel use their privilege to demand that their representatives put pressure on Israel to stop the demolitions and not destroy the lives of communities in the South Hebron Hills. Aysar and Sadeen stole the show with their talks when they explained how they just want to live without the fear of settlers, demolitions, and seeing their families suffering. Sadeen said at the end of her talk that what she wants is ‘hurriya’, freedom. Kelly from Rebuilding Alliance explained for the briefing the current situation in Susiya and the negotiations with the Civil Administration, how the events of the last few months have played out, and what they are now asking happen in congress in terms of pressure on Israel.

After the briefing finished, although we were all very tired and happy with how the briefing had gone, we went to visit the offices of the 11 representatives who signed a letter in support of Susiya that was sent by Representative Anna Eshoo to Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Kerry in July of this year, and that played a role in the State Department’s urging of Israeli authorities not to go ahead with the demolitions. We spoke to staff members in each of the offices and explained that we had now come to Washington to ask that US representatives continue to intervene and to support Susiya and other threatened villages in the South Hebron Hills. The visits to the offices were important to keep up relationships with these representatives that have spoken in support of Susiya and were also very interesting for us to see a little bit of how congress works.

We finished all these meetings at around four o’clock by which time we were all very tired and for the rest of the day we just relaxed and had some dinner – a very tasty falafel restaurant run by an Iraqi in Washington!

Another highlight of the day was when Aysar met an American cowboy on the way back to the guest house. See attached photo

After our time in Washington D.C. we arrived in Manhattan late on Thursday for some more relaxed days, although still of course very exciting and busy for the group. We had a couple of meetings with journalists who will hopefully write about the time of the delegation in the US and the situation of the South Hebron Hills villages (watch this space). On Saturday evening we were invited to a potluck dinner house meeting with members of Jewish Voice for Peace. This was a nice opportunity to connect with friends of the group and to meet some new faces and talk about what groups like JVP can be doing to support the villages. Apart from these meetings we saw some of the amazing sights of the city (thanks also to Chaim, Erella’s cousin, who lent us his tour-guiding skills) – walking across the Manhattan Bridge and looking back at the city at night, a trip across the water to the Statue of Liberty on Saturday afternoon, a visit to the site of Ground Zero and the memorials there, and of course some pilgrimages to the city’s temples of consumerism. The best moment came when, on Sunday evening as we happened to be walking on Fifth Avenue, suddenly there were a lot of police and all the cars were blocked from the street to make way for the entourage of President Obama, who was in town for the UN General Assembly – the group were delighted to have seen him drive by. We had hoped to have a face-to-face meeting to tell him about Susiya and Umm al-Kheir but this encounter came a close second.

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Summer Camp in Umm al-Kheir

Officers of the civil administration of the occupation army came recently to Umm al-Kheir cluster near the fence of Carmel settlement. The officers said to the locals that they intend to to demolish in the short run, most of the structures in the place that were built in replacement for the structures demolished last October (check: https://villagesgroup.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/house-demolitions-in-umm-al-kheir/). In the meanwhile in the same cluster, Na’ama Hadhalin, a  teacher and local activist, organized, with the help of her husband Eid and high school students,a summer camp for the children who experience, since they were born, the anxiety and uncertainty of those whose houses are been demolished again and again. The summer camp was sponsored by the British Shalom-Salaam Trust (http://www.bsst.org.uk/). Eyal Shani of the Villages Group held Tai Chi workshop for the children in the summer camp. Below is a report by Na’ama – the summer camp organizer and some photos she attached from the summer camp’s activities.

Ehud, on behalf of the Villages Group

Letter from Na’ama Hadhalin, in charge of the Umm al-Kheir summer children’s camp


To begin, on behalf of myself and the villagers of Umm al-Kheir, I would like to thank all of you who helped this summer camp in which our children spent an enjoyable and delicious time this season.

We began our activity on the third day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, July 19, 2015. On the first day, the camp’s outfit were distributed and the children were divided into three groups led by the three volunteers of the camp, according to their age groups – from 4- to 15-years old, aimed at their respective activities. We began by preparing holiday greeting cards. Activities were geared for fun, learning and the arts. We also enjoyed some drama, puppet theater, singing, drawing, puzzles and more, alongside talks about morality values, tolerance, honesty and cleanliness.

On July 27, a trip was held in which the villagers of Umm al-Kheir participated. It was a special occasion in which we- including the adults among us – breathed some enjoyable free air and holiday spirit. On July 28 the camp’s ending ceremony was held with the parents from Umm al-Kheir attending as well as a group of young people from Sweden. School bags were handed out as well as writing materials for the children who had taken part in the camp.

Finally, I would like to express heartfelt thanks on behalf of myself – Na’ama, the camp volunteers and all of Umm al-Kheir’s inhabitants and children. Thank you for having enabled us to give our children a chance to spend some very enjoyable time during an especially long summer vacation. Our children eagerly waited for this vacation in order to be able to participate in the summer camp that you supported and helped bring about.

Thank you for your humaneness and love, and your solidarity with us.

Yours sincerely, Na’ama Hadhalin

summer camp3 summer camp2 summer camp5 summer camp4 summer camp1

Take Action on Behalf of Palestinian Susiya

Dear friends and supports,

See in the attached the letter sent by Member of the European Parliament Jude Kriton-Darling to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy- Federica Mogherin. MEP Kriton-Darling wrote this message after the urgent situation of Palestinian Susiya was brought to her attention by friends of the Villages Group and the people of south Hebron Hills from Hexham. MEP Kriton-Darling letter contains the important details concerning the current state of affairs in Susiya’s case. This initiative stand out as a fine example on what can and should be done, in terms of political pressure, for the sake Susiya’s survival. We urge you to take similar steps and apply to your political representative and ask them to take action on behalf of Palestinian Susiya and its residents.
Information about the current risk facing Susiya can obtain in the links below.
Ehud Krinis on behalf of the Villages Group

Yasmin (Ikhlas) Jebara from Salem Village at the Tenth Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony.

Yasmin (Ikhlas) Jebara from Salem village participated yesterday (Tuesday 21st)  in Tel-Aviv in the tenth Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony. The ceremony was organized by the Combatants for Peace movement. You can watch Yamsin’s speech (Arabic with English and Hebrew sub-titles) and harp’s  playing (accompanying a colleague harp player and singer Renana Neeman) in the following link:  http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/61377333
Yamsin’s speech which begin in 21:48 of the broadcast is followed by Renana Neeman’s ensemble playing starting in 29:30.
The initiative of inviting Yasmin to this ceremony came from the musician Idan Toledano upon reading a newspaper interview with Yasmin made during the harp festival in Jaffa last December (check:  https://villagesgroup.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/yasmin-ikhlas-jebara-at-the-hatp-festival/)
Special thanks should be given to Buma Inbar who initiated the tenth Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony in 2006.
He also help in facilitating Yasmin’s visit in Tel-Aviv along with her mother Muna an her sister Asala.
The entry of Yamisn’s other sister as well as her brothers was denied by the Israeli occupation authorities.
Ehud, on behalf of the Villages Group  

A Letter from David Shulman Concerning Susya

Dear Friends

Most of you will remember the long and tortuous story of Susya, the tiny encampment– all tents and shacks– where few hundred people are still hanging on to what is left of their ancestral lands in the face of continuous harassment by the State and settlers, and in the wake of many earlier expulsions. You may also remember that many of their simple homes have had demolition orders issued against them by the Civil Administration, which clearly aims at destroying the entire village and expelling its inhabitants for good. The Civil Administration claims that the Susya shacks were built without permits and without an accepted, official plan for the village; in fact the villagers have submitted such a plan, and, as everyone knows, it is impossible for Palestinians living in Area C to get a permit to build anywhere on their own land

The Villages Group and Taayush has been involved together with the Rabbis for Human Rights and other organizations, for the last several years in the legal struggle over the fate of Susya; the courts have sometimes accepted our arguments for a stay of execution, but they have also at times ruled in favor of the Civil Administration bureaucrats and the soldiers.

About a year ago I reported on a truly astonishing document prepared by the Civil Administration in which they argue, in classic colonial style, that the impoverished Palestinians of Susya do not know what is good for them and that their opportunities will increase if only they are moved to the city of Yata– in other words, if they are forced to relinquish forever their homes, grazing grounds, and fields (https://villagesgroup.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/white-mans-burden-the-israeli-occupations-civil-administration-version/)

Last week the government gave notice that it will ask the courts to remove the last impediments to carrying out the demolition orders. links to the website of the Rabbis for Human Rights and to the Haaretz article describing the legal situation in detail:[1]http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.649340 [2] http://rhr.org.il/eng/2015/03/update-on-susya-state-opposes-freezing-of-demolition-orders/

We don’t yet know if the court will accept the arguments of the government lawyers, but we can say for sure that what we are witnessing today is an unmistakable move on the part of the government and the Occupation authority to dispossess the entire population of Palestinian Susya and to drive them off the land once and for all. Perhaps the results of the recent election have emboldened the settlers and their supporters; perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a much wider, shameless campaign of mass expulsion, which is, one should remember, the true, indeed the only, raison d’etre of the Occupation.

We have known the Susya Palestinians for some 15 years; they are our friends. We cannot stand by and watch the destruction of their village and their way of life. Those of you who can exert influence of any kind– on your representatives in government, in public office, on the public media, or through any other channel–  might be able to help at this possibly fateful moment.

Yours, David Shulman

Desert Snows

January 9, 2015

This time I am almost ashamed of the story I am about to tell, as the whole world is dealing with the unbearable mega-terror-attack on France, and while here in Israel people – even since before the attack – are still busy with the unusually harsh stormy and snow conditions here at the moment. And perhaps in spite or because of my shame, I should tell it.

I live in a farming community in the northern Negev, where the desert begins. A place not blessed with abundant rainfall or groundwater. The South Hebron Hills, too, lying about 60-70 km east of where I live, is an area even drier than ours. Some of my good friends live there, mostly farmers and shepherds. Year after year, as winter descends, I get a phone call from Nasser, Ali and Eid who live in various hamlets in the South Hebron Hills, asking whether rain has already fallen in our village and how our fields are doing. They tell me about theirs, and about their water holes – the main and sometimes only source of water for them for both human and animal consumption the whole year long – which the Occupation authorities repeatedly destroy, and do not even allow the Palestinians to connect to other water sources.

All of last week we exchanged reports of the plentiful rains that fell both on my village and on theirs. Today Nasser called to ask whether we were having snow. They – at the altitude of 800-900 meters above sea level – have been having snow for two days now, but they heard on the radio that snow was falling even at 400 meters. “We are at 200 meters’ altitude” I answered, “and snow is a very rare sight”. And since we were already talking, I asked Nasser whether Ahmad and Laish (his children) managed to put together the puzzle I had brought them last week. “Yes”, he answered. “It became a family activity”. We continue chatting. I even disclose that I did not take part in our weekly visit last Thursday because my back was giving me too much trouble. “I wasn’t home either”, he said. “I was working. I went to document the cutting down of olive trees in the area”. Shocked at the timing (not at the sabotage itself), I asked: “What!? Even in such freezing weather, in a snow storm!?” “All the better”, Nasser answered.

“Yesterday morning”, he says, his voice sounding as routine as if we are still talking about the puzzle, “during a brief pause in the snowfall, farmers of Qawawis near Susya, and farmers from Yatta whose lands lie close to Qawawis, went out to check the water situation in the water holes of their plots. The holes were filled with water. Then they noticed 42 olive trees, 32 years old, lying sawed near Qawawis on the side of the grove next to Havat Yair settlement, and some 200 one-to-seven-year old olive trees uprooted and broken near Qawawis across the road.” Thus Nasser. I remain silent.

The water in their holes was given them by God. The sawed-down trees they discovered were destroyed by men. With and without a saw. Thus I say to myself after we are done with our telephone conversation which was not at all meant to touch on this subject. One more banal story. Another abnormal episode that becomes normal in a reality where even the complaint about evil-doing comes like falling summer rain.

When the crimes pile up, they become invisible.

When the suffering becomes unbearable no one

Hears the cries any more.

They too fall like summer rain. (Bertolt Brecht)

This attack will not make waves in the media. The attack in France, too, will soon enough fall away like summer rain. They both belong to the blindness of their perpetrators.

And God? He is present in the waterholes. The God of small things…