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A Story for the Eve of a Holiday

Rabbi A. hurries down the trail to the flock of black goats gathering under the jujube tree. A warm wind blows, A. hurries on bent a bit forward, his walk shaped by endless energy and devotion. Apparently, he wishes to get to his destination before he will actually be there. He rushes and calls out to the colonist, “Please, go away”. His accent is foreign and the word “please” sounds strange in the brewing incident, but A. repeats the word and adds, “This is not your water, and not your land”.

The water and the land, the two life-sustaining elements in the Palestinian Jordan Valley, are common everywhere, throughout history. In the new chapter of the region’s peoples, the colonists steal the sources of life from the Palestinians. The State of Israel enables this. Like the heat of summer that is now leaping at this desert, Rabbi A. seems to be single-handedly waging a struggle to protect the Palestinians’ land and water.

This land and this water belong to two Palestinian families who have been living close to the spring for over 35 years.

Now the incident begins. Rabbi A. is a tall, sturdy man, and the colonist is a young, think adolescent. But the Rabbi’s age pushes itself into the scene like some evil-minded given. The Rabbi shuts off the water, the colonist boy opens it and screams. He pushes the Rabbi who does not give in. A. trips, falls and gets up immediately to shut off the water again. The wind around them witnesses the scene, the heat of this noontime just before the holiday rises and the desert hills keep silent.

That’s the whole story. Almost. Hours later, already at the eve of the holiday, a band of colonists appears at the encampment of the two Palestinian brothers’ families. They grab the cell phone of the wife of one of the brothers, throw it into the bushes and slap the woman. They go on beating one of the brothers in the face and ribs and order him not to summon the “American” any more. They threaten, they intimidate. They are violent and evil, drunk with the limitless power granted them by the government.

But the American will come back. This elderly Jew, the Rabbi, will not give in. He will continue to guard the Palestinians’ water, it’s his biblical duty. From the most primeval, innermost soul of doing justice. His life is dedicated to the endless work of pushing away the forces of evil. He runs around among these arid hills summer and winter, days and nights.

The colonists understand his involvement with the area. His knowledge of the Torah, of Judaism, his skullcap, his Americanism, he could have been one of them. But he has chosen grace, compassion, law and justice. He is a bothersome figure in the stolen landscape they see.


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