Here are several photos that go with these chapters. Pictures can’t really capture the beauty or the atmosphere of the places or the people. But it’s a start.
Jayyous on its hilltop
Jayyous, surrounded by olive groves
The view at sunset, all the way to Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean
The Fence / Wall, just outside Jayyous, that isolates 75% of the village’s land from its owners
The Fence / Wall — note the trenches and piles of razor wire that border the army access roads on either side of the Wall
MORTAL DANGER (sign posted on the razor wire piles surrounding the Fence / Wall)
An “agricultural gate” with opening hours posted: 7:40 – 8am, 2 – 2:15pm, and 6:45 – 7pm. And that’s only if the soldiers actually show up on time, if they are in a good mood and remembered the keys, and if the owners / farmers / workers / guests / equipment in question have a permit to cross the gate.
Waiting around to be checked and (hopefully) let through
The massive scar of the Fence
The village in the valley (to the left) is Falamya, a neighbor of Jayyous. On the hilltop above Falamya is an illegal Israeli settlement — one of many in the area.
Everything to the left (west) of the Fence is Jayyous land isolated from its owners. It includes citrus and olive groves, greenhouses, and all of Jayyous’s water resources (wells, cisterns, and reservoirs).
All of this land, owned by Palestinians, can be bulldozed and/or developed at any time by the Israeli authorities, settlement construction companies, or settlers themselves. There is very little recourse for Palestinian farmers who lose land and property in this way.
A map that shows the route of the Wall in this area. Jayyous and Falamya are in the upper right. The dark blue blob on Jayyous’s land is an illegal Israeli settlement called Zufin that’s already been built. The area with a blue mark around it is where 650 olive trees belonging to one Jayyous farmer were destroyed by the Israeli authorities in December 2004, ostensibly to build a new settlement called Nofei Zufin. The city of Qalqilia, home to 40,000 people, is completely surrounded by a concrete Wall, with only one entrance/exit that can be closed at will by the Israeli army.
In Chapters 2 and 3, I got through the Wall most of the time and had an amazing time harvesting olives in this beautiful land.
Combing the branches of graceful and generous olive trees
Lots of kids running around playing while we harvest.
Gorgeous glimpses of Jayyous through the treetops
The flowering bush that marks the turn to get to the mayor’s house.
Jayyous’s little mosque
Apparent charity flour. Palestinians don’t want charity — they want freedom.
Sniper towers and checkpoints are littered throughout the West Bank, many put in place to protect illegal Israeli settlements built on expropriated Palestinian land.
Sniper tower. You never know if they’re manned or not, if you have a gun trained on you or not.
Traffic snarls are common in the West Bank due to both established and “flying” checkpoints. Notice that although this picture was taken in the West Bank, the sign is in Hebrew first, and it points to an Israeli town called Beit Shemesh and a settlement called Alon Shvut. Nearby Palestinian cities and towns aren’t mentioned. This is common on West Bank roads.
Sometimes the traffic jams go on for a long time
A looooong time. Sometimes hours. Sometimes you just have to turn around and go back.
The Euphrates River in Deir al Zour, Syria. I always dreamed as a kid of seeing the mighty rivers of the Fertile Crescent. This is one of only two photos from my Syria / Lebanon / Turkey trip after I left Palestine. Both were of the Euphrates River. I wish I had taken more.
The text of Chapters 2 and 3 didn’t change much since they were first written in 2008. Just a few tiny passages were left out:
On p. 15, after “Into the West Bank”:
“You know what my last girlfriend said she liked about me?” asked Rami.
“Your nose?” said Yusif.
“Girls like my nose. They say it turns them on.”
“No, not my nose.”
“What, your eyes?”
“No, it’s not what you’d expect.”
“Your hair?” I offered. He had nice hair.
“Nope. Give up? My neck.”
“Yeah, isn’t that strange? My neck. Of all things. She said my neck was sexy.” He shook his head atop that irresistible neck.
It was the next morning, and Rami was treating us to breakfast at a hilltop restaurant owned by a friend of his…
On p. 46:
Baarafish means ‘I don’t know’ and Maa al salaama means ‘Good-bye.’ Al yom means ‘today,’ bukra means ‘tomorrow.’ Tisbah ala khair means ‘Good night’ and Sabah al khair is ‘Good morning.’ If someone bids you good morning, the proper response is Sabah al noor, or ‘Morning of light.’
On p. 47:
Amjad went in and grabbed one of his engineering textbooks, which was in English. Dan seemed surprised. Amjad explained, “Yes, we have to study many things in English because we don’t always have textbooks in Arabic for them.”
On p. 48:
As we were driving out of the West Bank, I said, “So, what did you think?”
Dan just looked at me, eyebrows raised.
“Come on, what did you expect?” I asked teasingly. “A bunch of bearded masked maniacs with a Kalashnikov in each hand just waiting for you to cross the Green Line so they could shoot you?”
He laughed. “Yeah, pretty much.” I laughed, too, because I’d halfway suspected the same thing not long before. We felt almost giddy. How little we knew!
P.S. For more olive harvest stories (and pictures), see the post called “Olives and Rabbis” from my visit to Palestine in 2009.
You can click here to read a Brief History of the Conflict (from the first Zionist congress to the second Intifada), written by me but left out of the book to save space.
To learn more about the book (Fast Times in Palestine), click here.