Fields of rich clay earth, sprouting vegetables, and citrus trees while a cow grazes in pasture. The mother joins the father in milking the cow, providing an array of dairy products for family's consummation. Olive trees scatter the hillside while other trees blossom in the radiant light.
A cool breeze flows down into the valley as we eat fresh picked oranges, resting from our hands' labor.
Warm lemon tea soothes thirsty tongues, the day has just begun. Work continues through the morning as the father steps away for mid-day prayer. New trees, not yet planted sit in rows upon the field covered with stones large and small. The planting of new trees is only necessary due to settlers burning and uprooting the family's crops which is their only source of food.
Air raid sirens cry out from one of the illegal settlements as Israeli's vacate the roads and paths. Each settlement is surrounded by tall, thick walls, barbed wire and soldiers, striking unnecessary fear into the minds of settlers. Meanwhile there is no warning or protection for the farmer and his family who live in love of their home and fields. The farmer is not a thief, living in peace offering the land to God. While those who invade this place of serenity and beauty, steal and destroy all he and his ancestry have worked to establish.
Upon our arrival the father sat us down and in broken English told us his story and described the world as he saw it.. He said that the nearby village of Lubban has existed as a small village for over 1850 years. Over the last 20 years huge settlements have been built on the hillsides expanding all around the town and his farm. His family has been on this land for 654 years and just in the last four years the Israeli government has said he is living on Israeli property. He has been told to move into town but he will never give his home to Israel. Saying, he is tied to his land, he loves his house and his field, and it is for his family from God.
Here are a few of his words:
"Where Israel loves, I love. Where they no love (he points to the village) I no love!" "Settlers, police, Israel, no problem for me. I will not go. Over big years many have come, police, settlers, I no go!"
When asked about the settlers, this is what he had to say:
"Child throws a rock at a car, you (motions a slap on the face and kick in the rear)... not shooting! Babies, Babies! Settler, he shoots!"
"The boys can be in the street, no problem. But to sleep in the house, they shoot at house." "If they take our house, where should we sleep? In the street? Where you go? Where you sleep?"
This family has been terrorized by people living in the illegal Israeli settlement on the hills above them. The door and side of their home is riddled with bullet holes from settlers firing at his house while his family sleeps inside. The settlers also recently shot and killed their dog right after she had a litter of puppies along with tearing up half of their crops. When his ten year old son was asked if he was afraid of the settlers when they shoot at the house he replied, "No. If they want to kill me, they will kill me, I'm not afraid."
The farmer also had a lot to say about the government. "Nablus, 1/2 million people and one man can shut off water? One man can close road for two cities? No road!"
"Why no man love Arab? Why whole atlas love Israel? Israel does not steal money from bank, he steal your house!" "America strong in power. Why does America still stand with Israel when they steal your land and house?" "Palestine is for whole atlas, all religions."
"Governments love Israel, money, and chair. Israel loves governments. I love house and field, I love my dog and family. No more for me."
"Americans always come and say, 'We love Palestine, we love Palestine. Then they go. Americans always saying they love Palestine. If that's true, why does America still support Israel?"
"I speak my love for you. Nobody speaks for Arabs in atlas, no on television, no with big money. No speak! But you will speak."
A man who welcomes all people to join him on this land, which he considers for all people, except those who come and try to steal it for their selfish endeavors. One house destroyed by the Israeli Military during the First Intifada and the daily harassment and violence evident by destroyed crops and the remaining six hundred and fifty year old house covered in bullet marks from settlers. This family is living everyday and will not surrender to fear or oppression. They live, love, and give with generosity and sincerity.
Winter Team 2013