by Manal Tamimi : 24 January 2013
When I was a little girl, I didn’t understand anything in the world except for laughter, and playing games. I used to adore my small village that was of one family, united in its happiness and sorrows. I used to adore every inch of that land. I used to adore the season for the olive harvest and waking up early to prepare food for the entire day, since we were to spend our day picking. I adored getting up at 6 in the morning to go with our neighbor and his children to pick grapes and figs from his vineyard, for there is nothing in life which compares to the taste of grapes and figs in the early morning, coated with water from morning dew. I adored going to the spring in the valley to pick wild mint during the winter to make mint pastries. There are no other pastries that even compare in taste to that of a mint pastry.
As I grew up, so grew my love for this land and the large passion for its soil, its trees, and its stones. I grew and so grew my worries as the settlers reached the heights of the mountain that stands before my house. It is the place that contains all my worries. I used to go there to scream, cry, laugh, and then sit under a carob tree and I would look at the valley with its water and wonderful green color. I would gaze at the hills on the opposite side covered in olive, grape and fig trees. Just looking and staring at that mountainous landscape, I would forget my worries and sorrows. It would gladden my chest as though it had been washed with soap and water, restoring me back to life and making me active again.
Today everything has changed. Our land had already been stolen and colonial Zionist settlements have been built upon it. I am no longer able to reach the vineyards and fig trees. They have now been taken by the settlements and we are prevented from going there…but even more than that, they have uprooted and taken down the grape vines and fig trees to keep them from us. They stole our olive orchards and have uprooted the olive trees, which have existed since Roman times (thousands of years). I believe they are trying to kill/destroy our roots from our lands and break our glory. The worst part is that they have planted new olive trees they claim began growing on their land, which they inherited from their forefathers. When I sit on the mountain and look out in front of me, I no longer see anything but hills which have been deformed, robbed of their beauty by the hideous white houses with red roofs. I look into the valley to see the color has turned from vibrant green to pale yellow as if the earth has also felt the disaster that affected us and killed it, so that these thieves can take full advantage of it. When I look at the water, which was once clear and brought back life, I see it has now turned to green as if it too was hit and turned into toxic water that kills anyone who drinks it…as if it now knows we can no longer reach it.
No one can reach it except the aggressive settlers.
Today, at the height of our struggle to recover our land, we drown in our sorrows after we have lost, in less than a year, two of the most precious and dearest of our youth while they were defending their land and their dignity, sacrificing their lives in the process. Now we have received breaking news that settlers are digging up more of the land and have placed/set up 50 trailers for 50 new homes in the settlement.
Fifty more homes means 50 more families who occupy our land.
Fifty more homes means more pain and suffering.
Despite the grief over the loss of land, despite the pain we feel from our separation from loved ones, despite the humiliation, we will stay loyal to our land, we shall hold to the land just as the olive tree spreads its roots deep into the ground. We will raise our issues/concerns/worries high and loud and we will scream with our loudest voices, so that the world can hear us.
We are here and here we will stay. For this is our land and no one will remove us from it.