The settler to the unarmed Palestinian: Have I ever humiliated you? Or ever hurt you
Palestinian Jordan Valley – the Roi settler-colony and Al Haididiya Palestinian shepherd community area
I found myself standing in a field with two Palestinians, a father and son, owners of the land, and two men from Roi Jewish settler-colony – Moshe the community manager, and another wise-guy whose name I still don’t know, who was armed and said he was the place’s security official, two army jeeps filled with male and female soldiers. For a moment there the woman-officer also emerged, whom I know from a previous harassment in the fields of Al Hadidiya, and there was also the policeman who came and went. All around an Israeli tractor that was hired by the Roi people to sow a field owned by a Palestinian.
The Palestinians brought a Jordanian document proving their ownership of the plot, and also claimed they have an Israeli paper showing ownership, but it was forgotten at home. The Jews claimed the field as theirs. They didn’t need to provide any documentation, apparently. The policeman arriving on the scene tried to bring order and said that until the Civil Administration decides to whom the land belongs, no one will do anything with it.
As we know, it is now plowing and sowing season. The Palestinian claimed that the land was his even before the settler-colony was founded in the early 1970s. He said that back then a small triangle was taken from him, and every year he sows the land and waits for the harvest.
The Jews claimed that their relations with the Palestinians was great until “you came”. I remembered hearing this statement from the red-headed Jewish settler-colonist at Rashash, as well. Later on I realized exactly what their meant.
The guy with the rifle – waved in front of our faces and at times hitting my leg – has a sense of humor that works only with the thoughtless soldiers, and tries to show off with his Arabic so that the Palestinian would smile at him – has he any other choice? – and agree to words such as: Have I ever humiliated you? Or ever hurt you?
What could the unarmed Palestinian say? That you stole my land without humiliating or hurting me? No! He says, rightly. You never humiliated nor hurt me… He won’t dare calling him robber, thief, liar - to his face, the way I do. He only sneaks me a thankful look, secretly.
And then the community manager yells at me: No photos! I ask why not. Are you afraid of something? And I don’t take pictures. And decide to record him. But I’m clumsy. They see that I’m trying to record. Not that I’m trying to hide it. I’m just concerned that I wouldn’t remember their words and might miss some important information. They whisper behind my back. Look, she’s recording… Then the soldier yells to the policeman: Isn’t this violation of the law? That stipulates that you cannot record someone without them knowing? The policeman waves him off impatiently. And I no longer feel like recording anyone. What would they say, after all, this nasty bunch. Clearly I explain to the Palestinian that all three arms here serve the same purpose (Israeli settlers-colonists, soldiers and police). And he agrees with me. What can he do, after all. And I guess that the Civil administration will rule that the field belongs to the Jews. When has it ever ruled differently? Right, faith.
It was the same Jew to whom I address a letter a week ago asking why he closed the fence and would not allow the community living to the east of it to come out to the main road. And I ask him why he didn’t respond to my letter. What do I owe you? Who are you for me to respond to? He answers. I say to him – you don’t let people get to their destination. You restrict their movement. There’s no obligation to answer me.
In the morning I went in to check whether the gates were open. I found an open gate near the greenhouses, but further east, on the way leading to Hadidiya there is another gate and – wonder of wonders – it is closed. The southern side is closed off too. The way that T. was proposed for me further south of the southern track is not fit to travel. There remains only the track to Makhoul, which is only accessible for vehicles with large wheels. Not mine. My chassis is low-slung… (I have a blurred picture of the closed gate).
At some point most of them left and I remained with the humorous fellow, the two Palestinians and soldiers. We waited for the Civil Administration’s reply. A woman-soldier standing next to us and listened to us talk. I meant to speak quietly with the humorous fellow. But couldn’t. He quizzed me on history. Soon enough we reached the point that he compared the settlers’ deeds to those of the Zionist pioneers who founded the kibbutzim, and then he had a problem facing a woman (me) who is not an avid Zionist and is able to face his solid claims, and says that we can only fix the situation together. The method of throwing “them” to hell will not work forever. The woman-soldier listening quietly, identifying with the humorous guy’s rifle, said at some moment: “I’m Muslim”. “An Arab from the Galilee”. I was shocked. Why are you here, in uniform?? “Because I wish to defend my state. The state that gave my mom so much as me too. I want to defend it.” I wanted to die.
Later we realized the DCO would not arrive on the scene. They promised the soldiers a reply by phone. The forum broke up.