“We Have Only Our Dignity, Our Tents, and Our Sheep”

Shepherds ~ An Nizan Village Photo Credit: Dawn

Shepherds and Sons ~ An Nizan Village
Photo Credit: Elina

Four shepherds and a few small boys sit across from us in the tent ~ mats are laid out for our comfort. The customary tea with sugar and sage is served around in small glass cups. Through our interpreter, the men tell us about the challenges they face in their village of An Nizan ~ a small hamlet in Area C consisting of 4 families ~ about 30 people ~ who have lived on this land for generations. In 2011 the Israeli government delivered demolition orders on all structures. A year later the bulldozers arrived. The families have rebuilt their homes but only to receive new demolition orders. The case is now in the courts.

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Boy and Tent ~ Photo Credit: Dawn

Life is both simple and dire for this community. There is no running water, no electricity, and no health service. Children use donkeys to travel to school. The shepherds have tried to renovate some destroyed cisterns, but there has been no rain and the price of water is extremely high. Fields close to the hamlet are planted with barley for the sheep as the shepherds are afraid to take them very far afield to graze. Settlers from the nearby outpost are very aggressive and regularly harass and threaten the shepherds. We listen attentively. But what can we do?

An Nizan Village Photo Credit: Dawn

Threatened with Demolition Orders
Photo Credit: Dawn

We offer the possibility of protective presence for shepherding which they gladly accept ~ “20 days after the first rain,” they say. If there are enough of us, they might venture closer to the settlement outpost where there will be pasture for the sheep. There is strength in numbers. We offer to contact CometMe which provides electricity to vulnerable communities, but with demolition orders pending, the chances are slim.

Photo Credit: Dawn

Photo Credit: Dawn

We thank them for the tea and for their hospitality and make our way down the hill and back to our car. On the adjacent hill sits the illegal outpost ~ neat rows of houses with their telltale red roofs and green landscape ~ connected to the electric grid ~ clean running water ~ In my ears ring the words of the eldest father: “We have only our dignity, our tents and our sheep.”

Father and Son ~ An Nizan Village Photo Credit: Dawn

Father and Son ~ An Nizan Village
Photo Credit: Dawn

I wonder how this is possible ~ Why does Israel not see that the occupation is cruel, inhumane and not sustainable? That the settlement enterprise is illegal according to international law? That the settlements are an obstacle to peace? ~ Why does the world look the other way as Israel continues this land grab? ~ The questions are stark against the dark backdrop of this father’s refrain: “We have only our dignity, our tents and our sheep.”

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5 Responses to “We Have Only Our Dignity, Our Tents, and Our Sheep”

  1. Fenella Temmerman says:

    Thank you, Dawn, for another succinct and heart wrenching post. As I see your photos and hear of the lives of Palestinian people, I find myself wondering if there is anything we can do or be that in any way will make a difference? As I ask this question, I am wondering if the answer is to make your information more well known. There must be other answers, too. If you know any, I would welcome them. May you and the shepherds know you are not alone, that we hear your voices. Wishing you all peace, Fenella

  2. Marilyn says:

    Cannot imagine being the parents in this village — they only want what is best for their children — like all parents. The basics of water, electricity, security I so take for granted. This posting shows how valuable the EAs are — a presence that makes such a difference. Thanks for doing this, Dawn.

  3. pugmother says:

    I will never understand the Israeli government, but as you wrote, Dawn, what can we do? What can be done? … On a lighter note, it was great to see you on Sunday! When you said that all you could see was the back of Don Junk’s head, we knew for sure it was our Dawn speaking to us! Hang in there, Dawn! Love, Mieke

  4. Shelagh says:

    I just finished reading “The General’s Son,” and I liked that he quoted from the movie “Interpreter.” “Revenge is just lazy grief.” I pray that all who have lost their land and homes can organize and lay their claims before Israel’s courts and also the world. I hope someone will do a film and sneak it out as in South Africa’s Apartheid, so the world will know. Even a You tube … afterall, if WestJet can get millions of viewers just because they played Santa Claus and surprised a plane full of passengers, surely some creative sister or brother can help the world see Israel’s uncaring ways and catch the viewers intrigue! Sigh! I wish I was more than a one talent person…

  5. Audrey Brooks says:

    How can I post your 4justpeace articles on my facebook?

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