14:00 We left from the Rosh Ha’ayin train station with Shosh Chen, Hadas and Sarah, who teach in Jurish.
A group of 6-7 Border Police soldiers stand in the compound. A traffic police vehicle parks on the side. A few settlers at the bus stop.
We reach Jurish, our colleagues who teach English, music and yoga get off, and we continue with Nadim to the village of Al-Marayyer, south of Jurish.
The first people we meet are two locals busy placing bricks on a wall under construction, a small boy beside them. They’re examples of a phenomenon we’re familiar with: many Palestinians expelled from their homes in 1948 and 1967, or who’d left because of the occupation which didn’t allow them to live honorably and safely, built new lives in Europe or the United States and created communities there. But their homesickness doesn’t ease. In many villages (such as Turmus Aii) you can see grand homes the emigrants who succeeded economically in the new land built for their families. When they visit during the summer they live in them. Their relatives who remained in the village, most of them elderly, live there the remainder of the year.
But that’s not all. Many families who live abroad come with their children, or send them alone to live in the village for a few years with relatives so they’ll come to know their homeland, the tradition, will learn Arabic and know where they belong. And that’s how the ten-year-old boy who’s lived in Chicago his entire life, where there’s a large Palestinian community, arrived in Al-Marayyer to live five years (!) with his uncle. He looks happy to participate in construction, something he probably didn’t do in Chicago. What does he miss? “American food, like hamburger, French fries, football…” he answers in perfect English. Sayed Kashua, the Palestinian-Israeli writer, the creator of “Arab Labor,” who left Israel (temporarily, so far…) because of the physical and verbal violence against Arabs following the war in Gaza, said in an interview published last week: “Many years ago the Jew was wandering. Today it’s the Arab.”
We meet A. near the grocery, a member of the village council, who has worked for six years in Israel, and his Hebrew is fluent. A number of residents gather, including H. and his son, who are visiting from New York for the summer. H. is an example of an emigrant that America has been good to. He owns two successful restaurants, in Queens and in Manhattan. What will he and his son experience, and the ten-years-old who’ll live in his family’s home village for five years?
Like many other villagers in the area, the 4000 residents of Al-Marayyer suffer badly from their proximity to the hostile settlements nearby. Adei-Ad is not far away. The council member tells us of the endless harassment: last year and two years ago the settlers set two mosques on fire and wrote hateful slogans on their walls. Incidents of cutting down or burning olive trees occur repeatedly (the council member says the terrorists use special material that burns the trees very quickly). The loss of the olive trees causes not only economic damage. It is a serious emotional attack. “Olive trees are like our children. They’re sacred to us,” says the council member.
A few months ago the settlers set a home on fire. The two old women and children living there were saved by a miracle. The settlers burned two vehicles two months ago.
And what happens when villagers call the Palestinian DCL for help? They call the Israeli DCL, who in turn contacts the army. And what do the soldiers do when they arrive? Block access to the village, fire shock grenades at the residents.
And that’s not all. Last week soldiers invaded homes and arrested four villagers. The night before last they arrested nine more people. The Jewish employer of one of the villagers gave him a ride to the unpaved road to the village. Soldiers who were there saw him walking and arrested him also. They’ve not yet been able to contact any of the men. If they’re lucky they’ll be sentenced “only” to four months in prison and a fine of at least NIS 2000 will be imposed on their family.
Unlike in other villages, only 20 dunums were expropriated for the settlements. But even though most of the land remained in village hands they’re unable to earn a living from agriculture because they’re permitted to plow only one or two days a year, and to pick olives only 4-5 days a year.
And that’s the bleak reality to which the sweet ten-yeas- old boy, who misses American food and football, will have to get used to. His former life is so different.
16:30 Back to Jurish.
Dvorka meets with A., the coordinator of women’s activities, to organize the beach day for the women and children.
17:00 We leave Jurish with Shosh, Hadas and Sarah to return.
At the turn from Highway 5 to Harth is a military jeep with soldiers. There’s no leakage from the sewage treatment plant at Barkan.
18:00 Back to Rosh Ha’ayin.