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Holding on to the land

Two elderly Palestinian farmers live in my heart. I don’t know their names, but I do know what they feel. The first entered my heart last week after bulldozers of Smotrich’s “defense forces” took down and destroyed hundreds of olive and fig trees and vineyards in the Salfit district. Dozens of years of the farmer’s life and livelihood – from the village of Kufr al-Dik – were erased in front of his eyes. His image stayed with me all week - I saw it as the final destruction. The Palestinian farmer’s position attests to his state – he sank down and leaned on the wall on the verge of unconsciousness. He had no strength left, no hope. Helplessness took over this body that would have no more reason to get up tomorrow morning. This image is the silence that follows the words, after the despair and pain. This is the silence of giving up.

This morning I saw an elderly Palestinian farmer lie on his soil, his body blocking the tractor that belongs to the Rotem outpost colonists. Rotem prides itself on being an ecological community, but plowing the Palestinian’s soil is one of its principles. Thus, Rotem colonists headed by their security official invaded the community of Khirbet Al Farisiya, frightened its dwellers, and then went on to plow earth that is not their own. The Palestinian farmer came and lay on his warm soil. He carried out an act of resistance, a heroic act of hope and future and sumud, holding on to the land. Surrounded by soldiers and policemen and colonists, he lay thus, persistent and courageous and calm, and got up only when promised that plowing will cease for today. This man came in to live in my heart next to the man from A-Dik, and I hoped that he inspired him with life.

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