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At-Tuwani: communion tea

By Diane Janzen

running quickly over the hills
to approach settlers harvesting Palestinian wheat fields
a confusion of angry words, sickles, and wheat churn in the air
police and soldiers use threats of arrest to clear the area
as we walk away i breathe with the images of the last hours in my
mind and on the tape in the video camera slung over my shoulder
the family, who is trying to prove ownership of this land, says
‘come, come to our house and drink tea’

in broken Arabic we ask, ‘where are the soldiers, the house?’
‘just down from that hill over there’
heavy feet as we approach the family sitting next to the rubble of
their house that a bulldozer and bagger demolished in fifteen short minutes
‘sit, sit on a mat that we managed to take from the house, and drink tea’

another dash through the hills to document
settlers harvesting more Palestinian wheat fields
this time with a combine that is allowed to leave the field
with the harvested wheat inside
police tell the Palestinian family to make a complaint at the police station in Hebron
something that takes time, and often feels pointless
‘come to our house. eat.’
‘drink another glass of tea after you finish eating – it’s good for you’

a visit to the village of Mufakara to see how things are the conversation moves to the devastating event of two months ago when settlers poisoned Palestinian grazing land
‘Ali, how many sheep have you lost from the poisoning?’
‘three large sheep and two small sheep’
we talk about the loss of other families in the village
‘Mahmoud has lost twenty-five adult sheep and twelve lambs’
for all a loss that so far has not had any compensation
i finish my first glass of tea
Ali tells his daughter, ‘quick, pour her more tea’

these are the times when drinking tea feels like taking communion
a symbol of brokenness, pain and confusion
drink, and remember what you see
drink, and remember how you feel

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