Ein El Hilweh: The settlers have a fantasy

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Rachel Afek and guest

We arrived in a car loaded with games and various household articles. We passed by all the families at Makhoul. At some point I was told that an MK is arriving for a visit. Since the shepherd was out grazing and the house needed to prepare for guests, so we cleaned up, tidied, and beautified – and when the Deputy Minister arrived he only had to help wash dishes. And so he did.

The Deputy Minister Yair Golan (Meretz party) arrived at the Palestinian Jordan Valley today. He came with Yair Buntzel of Combatants for Peace (they were in the army together, naturally) and with his spokesperson and political adviser. They listened and showed great interest. At some point he also helped give out barley to the sheep for he came when the flock was hungry and had no intention to stand and wait for the conversation to end…

We met again at the Hamam Al Malih schoolhouse.  They have nearly finished the gardening work that includes a shaded playground (and two orders have already arrived to “cease destruction of antiquities”). The place is now with floor and ficus trees all around. Such a nice and heart-warming view.  It looks extraordinary in the Biblical surrounding of the local encampment. The kindergarten also has a nice little playground. There are solar power panels there, toilets, water – and here’s wishing all will proceed in peace.

Later Golan and his entourage went down to En Al Hilwa where they met a settler-colonist who spoke of harmonious life and fabric of life, and good ties with Palestinians. He tried to show that they maintain work ties and mutual help. He is from Shadmot Mekhola. He claimed that they built up the spring in agreement with the Palestinians. *
He then invited himself for a talk with Mahdi. I was not there, but Yair told me that he tried to present a nice picture of things, and Mahdi spoiled his idyll. He brought up all the difficulties created by the young people who settler in the Palestinians’ grazing grounds – Uri and Tzuri and especially their workers.

Yair Golan asked for a list of all the problems, and promised to do all he can to help. The problems center around water, dwellings, grazing grounds, and education for the children.

We can only wait and see what time will bring.

*During our visit at the spring, called “The Flag Spring” by the settler-colonists, there were settler-colonist bathers there as well as 4 armed soldiers protecting them. I was told they are only there because of the holiday, and on other days.