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5 micro incidents of hope

Israel/Palestine
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Shepherds in Umm al Amad, from David Shulman in 2013.

Shepherds in Umm al -‘Amad, from David Shulman in 2013.

The Israeli writer David Shulman sent out the following note to his friends in Ta’ayush today. Much of his report appeared first at that site. He allowed us to republish it. 

Dear Friends,
    In light of the grim, indeed savage situation in Israel-Palestine this summer, I have decided, on principle, that my report today will include only good news. As a result, it will be rather short.
     However, there are the following not insignificant points.

1. Umm al-‘Amad. Many of you will remember the long struggle to reclaim this fertile valley, the Maraga Lands, for their rightful Palestinian owners, after 12 years or more in which they had no access to them. The wadi at Umm al-‘Amad is situated just beneath the large, cruel settlement of Othniel, whose settlers are sitting on the lands of Umm al-‘Amad and neighboring villages; these settlers have done whatever they could to drive the owners away, often attacking them physically and subjecting them to the usual regime of insult and terror. The owners had given up on ever setting foot again on their lands. For over two years we went with them week after week into the wadi, fighting the soldiers step by step, meter by meter, to extend their grazing grounds and cultivated plots and to achieve access without having to coordinate with the Occupation authorities. Today the owners have access to the whole long stretch of the valley, extending for hundreds of dunams. The army has also issued an order forbidding Israelis (meaning above all Israeli settlers) to set foot there. It was thus with deep satisfaction that we watched from a spot halfway up the slope as our Palestinian friends grazed their goats and sheeps and started clearing one large chunk of land of rocks and weeds in view of sowing a crop when the heat diminishes.  This is an achievement: one spot where the remorseless processes of expulsion and land-theft have been reversed, partly through our efforts. When I got up before dawn to leave for South Hebron, as always the skeptical, weary voice inside me was rehearsing its insidious phrases:  “It feels so futile, look what we’re up against, look at the system that crushes us again and again, we are hardly more than a pin-prick in that harsh reality, why keep going down there?” And so on. At Gan Hapaamon, before we got onto the transit, my friend said to me: “Off we go again tilting at windmills.” But for today Umm al-‘Amad has put to rest such doubts. One acts without thinking much about results, one acts because it is the right thing to do, and every once in a while there is something tangible and good and durable that happens after all.

2. Tekoa V.  Two weeks ago we went with the Palestinians of Tequ’a to the site of their stolen lands, where settlers had erected the new (of course illegal) outpost of Tekoa V and put in place the first caravans and water tanks and flags. It was, they said, the “appropriate Zionist response” to the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers six weeks ago. For some people, violent theft– or worse– is always the appropriate response. I am happy to report that Tekoa V was demolished on Wednesday night by the Civil Administration, with apparent backing by the Supreme Court. The lands revert to their true owners. It’s an unusual– almost unique– exception to the general rule.

3. Harrassment. The crude soldier who made obscene gestures and sounds at Zohara and Neriya two weeks ago at Umm al-Ara’is was hauled before his commanding officer, interrogated, and, we think, rebuked. OK, it’s not much. Still, the complaint wasn’t simply ignored or whitewashed. I know, this micro-incident pales when compared with the massacre of innocents, and so on.

4. I think we can include with the good news the cool mist that clothed the hills at 7 AM, before the sun got serious about burning everything alive, and then there’s the gentle soulful sound of the bells tied  to the sheep as they graze over the slopes, wandering from thorn to thorn in the stillness– what could rival that music?

    Blessings to all of you, David

David Shulman
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14 Responses

  1. Marnie
    Marnie
    August 16, 2014, 2:23 pm

    Not to be nitpicky but I see 3 incidents, not 5; may there be many, many more.

  2. ritzl
    ritzl
    August 16, 2014, 3:40 pm

    #5 might be that Mr. Shulman took the time to write this.

    Thanks, David. Sumud.

    • just
      just
      August 16, 2014, 4:05 pm

      Well said, ritzl.

      “4. I think we can include with the good news the cool mist that clothed the hills at 7 AM, before the sun got serious about burning everything alive, and then there’s the gentle soulful sound of the bells tied to the sheep as they graze over the slopes, wandering from thorn to thorn in the stillness– what could rival that music?”

      That is certainly some of the most beautiful music I’ve heard. It’s haunting and unforgettable once heard.

      Perhaps akin to the sound of a lost, but never forgotten, loved one laughing with delight.

      Thanks David.

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        August 16, 2014, 4:18 pm

        That is certainly some of the most beautiful music I’ve heard. It’s haunting and unforgettable once heard.

        {{eyes closed, listening through childhood’s ears, smiling}}

        Beautiful thought. Thanks.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        August 16, 2014, 5:55 pm

        “the gentle soulful sound of the bells tied to the sheep as they graze over the slopes, wandering from thorn to thorn in the stillness– what could rival that music?”

        Perhaps some Djivan Gasparyan, from over eastwards , shepherd music too

      • just
        just
        August 16, 2014, 6:11 pm

        mesmerizing.

        thank you for the introduction, seafoid.

  3. gracie fr
    gracie fr
    August 16, 2014, 4:55 pm

    Farther afield and as Noam Chomsky has observed…..
    But as the U.S. government backpedals to reconcile its unconditional support of Israel with basic principles of human rights and Europe waffles, one region stands out in its opposition to the siege of Gaza: Latin America. Leaders from across the region have condemned the Israel Defense Forces’ attacks on Gaza as excessive and unfair. “I think what’s happening in the Gaza Strip is dangerous,” Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff told the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. “I don’t think it’s genocide, but I think it’s a massacre.”
    Chile, currently a member of the U.N. Security Council, stated that the Israeli government “does not respect the fundamental norms of international humanitarian law.”
    http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/8/latin-america-israelgazahumanrights.html

  4. seafoid
    seafoid
    August 16, 2014, 6:09 pm

    I can’t see any grounds for hope as long as Yossi Israeli refuses to get with the program.

    I would airdrop 5 million of these into Israel with the right financial backing. It might just work

    http://www.northernsun.com/Wake-The-Fuck-Up-Sticker-%285125%29.html

    • just
      just
      August 16, 2014, 6:12 pm

      It might work if 1/2 are in Hebrew– not so sure if it would have the same impact, though. On the other hand– why not, what could it hurt?

  5. dudu440
    dudu440
    August 16, 2014, 9:25 pm

    Having been there with Ta’ayush and the shepherds one Saturday in June (I only wish I’d had the chance to meet you, David S.) and having spent just about every other day since July 1 shouting about Gaza and the occupation at street corners back in California … I’m catching up on reading a bit today, seeing this and finding tears on my cheeks. Only three pieces of good news? It’s our job to make more.

  6. michelle
    michelle
    August 17, 2014, 5:33 am

    .
    is it true i read that the aid to
    Palestine goes through Israel first
    and that Israel keeps 40% of it
    if this is true it has to change
    Palestine voted and has its own
    leadership any aid toward Palestine
    should be given directly to Palestine
    Israel needs to step back and ‘allow’
    the people of Palestine direct access to the world
    Palestine would prob. like someone/anyone other
    than Israel involved in the rebuild process
    Israel must stop abusing the rights/freedoms of Palestine
    btw Palestine has the right to have underground ‘tunnels’
    most everyone else has underground structures of some sort
    Israel needs to backoff
    .
    do sheep need bells
    mine don’t have bells
    but they are my first ever ‘flock’
    would they be happier/safer
    ????????
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

    • just
      just
      August 17, 2014, 7:22 am

      I don’t know if your sheep will be safer– the bells are usually for locating them. You might be happy to hear those tinkling bells though. ;)

  7. just
    just
    August 17, 2014, 7:36 am

    Apartheid/miscegenation raises its ugly head:

    “The Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court on Sunday granted a right-wing activists group permission to hold a protest 200 meters from the wedding hall where a Muslim man was marrying a woman who was born Jewish and converted to Islam.

    The couple, Mahmoud and Morel, earlier petitioned the High Court of Justice to prevent the right-wing protest outside the hall where they plan to marry Sunday night.

    In their petition, the couple asked the court to stop members of the anti-Arab organization Lehava from harassing them, including at the reception.

    The organization, whose name is a Hebrew acronym for “preventing assimilation in the Holy Land,” has used Facebook to call on supporters to demonstrate at the banquet hall.

    The couple lives in Jaffa. They met five years ago. Sunday night’s event will only be a celebration; a Muslim wedding has already taken place.

    “We’ve been together for five years, but we’ve never encountered such racism. I always knew there were racists, but as long as you’re not affected by it, until you feel it in your own body, you don’t know what it is,” Mahmoud told Haaretz.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/1.610943

    Best wishes to the couple.

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