We got to Nira's home in Karkur; the table was set for breakfast. The table is always set when any of us come to Nira, even if it's for a minute between lectures. Aisha woke up at five a.m., woke up the kids and took them moaning and groaning to their granny before starting on the long journey from Nablus to A-Ram (near Jerusalem) with Faysel, our driver and translator, to pick up Khaled and then me. A good breakfast at Nira's was just what was needed.
After breakfast, Nira told us her family story beginning with her mom who was born in Labov. Her mother was active in the communist party and therefore was arrested, put into prison and tortured. After she was released her parents asked her to join her sister in Israel. Her sister's brother in law had come to Labov to marry her in a fake marriage so that she could get a permit to immigrate to Israel. The rest of her family was killed in the Holocaust. Two years after she immigrated to Israel, got married and had a baby boy. In 1937 her husband was murderd by Arabs together with his co-worker from the water company while they were inspecting a well. Since that day, 70 years passed.
Nira's mother was left with a baby and no income. Soon after she made her life with Nira's father who was a friend of the family. Nira's father immigrated to Israel in 1925, most of his family was killed in the Holocaust. He became a farmer and Nira remember him telling her and her siblings about life in the Diaspora and about Israel, as the only place where Jews could live without fearing anti-Semitism. In 1983 Nira's brother, from her mother's first husband, died. Her mother died soon after that from a broken heart and the betrayal of the body.
Nira was born in Karkur and lived there most of her life. She brought two sons and two daughters into the world . Her eldest son, Haggai, worked as a guard in the Electrical Company and was murderd by Palestinians with his co-worker. Nira's husband, Naftali, was discovered with cancer a few days later and died from the disease. The similarity between the stories of Nira and her mom stunned and saddened us.
Nira took us on a tour in Karkur and to the cemetery where all her family are buried, from her mom's first husband, to her own son and husband. On the way there, we passed an old oak tree, which the locals call, the wishing tree. It's an old tree with a big hole in its trunk. Nira remembers how they used to put their wishes on a note which they stuck/hung onto the tree. Today kids are still doing it, wishing for a boyfriend in the summer holiday, success in school etc. Aisha said that if the tree was in the Nablus the Palestinians would have asked for the release of their brother from jail, to have a job etc. Nazia who speaks both languages translated.
We continued our tour in Dalyat A-Carmel. On our way there we stopped at the Muhraka, the monastery was closed but we could look down at the Valley of Jezreel. Aisha's brother has been in Megiddo prison, in the valley, for the past six months. Is it okay that I turned this sentence around? it reads better this way. Your translation is really really good! The family don't know why he was arrested. Aisha looked at the valley with tears in her eyes.
Dalyat A-Carmel is the most southern Druze village in Israel. In Nazia's house we went inside Anan's room. Anan was an officer in the paratroopers unit; in 1995 he was killed in a suicide attack. Anan run to save the wounded from the first explosion and was killed in the second one. In Anan's room on the walls there are certificate of merit which he got throughout his life, letters from friends, soldiers and commanders that were written after his death including many photos'. Two of them caught my attention; Anan in his uniform and with his fiancée. Nazia brought us into the room while holding his young grandson who's named after his uncle; Anan.
Amana, Nazia's wonderful wife, prepared lunch for us according to the Druze tradition.
Dalyat a-Carmel was established 400 years ago. The Druze came to the village from Syria, Usfiya and Lebanon. When Nazia's grandparents got married they were very poor. People brought a ladle, a wooden spoon, a stool a pot and more small objects to their tiny house, to help them get by. In those days the train in Haifa worked on coal. The grandmother used to make coal in her coal oven. Then, renting a donkey, she would go to Haifa and sell the two bags of coal. The payment from one bag used to pay for the donkey and the payment from the second bag was theirs. Slowly they had enough money to buy one donkey and then another one and then to lease the land on which the grandmother used to also raise chickens which she used to feed with ant hills. Slowly but persistently the family's fortune grew. When Nazia's grandfather passed away his fingers were stiff from years of chopping wood. They left their three sons three hundred dunams. Nazia told us that what he learned from them is that a person takes nothing to his grave.
After saying good buy to Nazia and Amana, Nira took us to the beach at Caesarea.
In the next few weeks the group will meet in Halhul to listen to the stories of Aisha and Khaled.
Sharon Kalimi Misheiker