Today was the first full day of the ICAHD rebuilding camp. After a wonderful night sleeping out in the mountains of Palestine, the cool breeze mixed with the call of the muezin at 4 am, and a hearty breakfast of falafel, humus, eggs, cheeses, zatar, fruits and strong Arabic coffee, Salim, who is hosting us at the site of his home (that has been demolished 6 times), took us on a tour of Anata, the West Bank town where we are rebuilding,
On the way we met the family for whom we are building, Ahmad Hajaj, his wife Majeda and their children. After tea and conversation, we went to the building site and explored the immediate surroundings: the ever-present Wall which surrounds Anata and the massive Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev on the other side.
After lunch (maklubeh) we returned to the site and started to get our hands (and the rest of us) dirty, forming chain gangs to pass the buckets of cement up the scaffolding and into the shafts of the columns, We completed the nine columns and some of the foundation before calling it a day– returning to our camp covered in concrete, but satisfied after a good 4-5 hours of hard physical work.
After dinner Salim and Jeff presented a slide show on the history of Salim and Arabia’s home, which we call Beit Arabiya, explaining its many demolitions in the context of Israel’s displacement policies and in particular, Salim relating how the demolitions harmed his family psychologically,financially and practically. “The demolition of a home is really the demolition of a family.”
We’re now chilling and getting ready to call it a night (lights out at 11-ish).