Farsiya Jordan Valley: a (relatively) quiet weekend for shepherds in the valley

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Galia, Dani, Artem, Meir, Kostia, Dan Sh., Dan B., Sofia, Rachel, Adi, Eshel, Gaya, Miki Fisher (reporting)

Friday, March 1, 2024

Galia and I (Miki) left Tel Aviv to Farisiya for a night shift. We arrived around 5:30 p.m. and talked with members of the former shift. Two events took place in N.'s tent whose encampment is near Beqa'ot colony. Cololnists from Uri's illegal outpost bear the Umm Zuka nature reserve tried twice to chase the Palestinian shepherd's flock. He asked them nicely not to bother the sheep and said there is room for all. The Israeli accompaniers called the police. Eventually the colonists decided to graze elsewhere. Two confrontations ended with no need for police or army intervention. One cannot know how they could have ended, even as everyone knows that the Palestinian shepherd may graze there.

As usual we made the rounds of the families, tea, coffee and even supper. This time, at night, we talked only with the women, asking them about their role and feelings in society and in Farisia. And they asked us about our families. Women talk.

We went to sleep at 10 p.m., and woke up in the morning after a quiet, peaceful night. We went down to A.'s tent to watch and learn how flatbread is prepared. His mother bakes it every morning on the outdoor coal oven.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

In the morning came the Saturday shift accompaniers – Gaya, Eshel and Adi, N.'s accompaniers who came from Haifa, sent a message that they would continue directly to him and asked to be in touch in case of trouble. Dan and Kostia, too, drove straight to Khalat Makhoul to accompany shepherd I. and his sons. All the rest came to Farisiy8a. Dani, Artem, and Meir went out to accompany A. and his son to graze around the Tzuriel outpost area, near Giv'at Sal'it colony, from which the hill thugs sometimes come out and beat up the shepherds.

Sofia, Rachel and I remained in the Farisiya encampment for protective* presence. Things were quiet and relaxed. Three flocks of other villagers grazed in the area unhampered. The flock belonging to the colonists remained invisible, not even near Rotem colony. Perhaps the colonists finally relaxed on this Sabbath. I and other accompaniers remaining in the encampment (two new ones) went around to acquaint ourselves with the surrounding, saw lambs and kids who were just born and not yet go out to graze, got acquainted with the families and in every home we were welcomed for tea and coffee, helped the children with their white clay works, and played football with the youth team of Farisiya.

The sunny day went by peacefully everywhere – with N. near Beqa'ot, with I. near Hemdat, and with A. who came back to Farisiya.

When the flocks returned from grazing, the women milked the sheep and the children stood in line in front of Dani (called "Dani-bicycles") to fix their bicycles.

We left around 6 p.m., not before we were invited for the great turned-over-rice-dish supper. One of the children decided to show us tricks he does with one of the goats.

This is probably what days would look like when peace reigns. We wish many such days would be here even sooner.

*protective presence: daily shifts of shepherd accompaniers around the clock, protecting the shepherd communities from colonist attacks.