It is a worth reading article about a Palestinian farming town Halhul and a Palestinian farmer Mr. Kashkeesh, whom Mr. Ignatius visited 32 years ago and then recently. He writes;
“First, try to imagine the landscape and how it has changed in the years of Israeli occupation. Halhul is an agricultural town in the rock-ribbed hills just south of Bethlehem. When I first traveled this route in 1982 to spend two weeks with Kashkeesh, to write a profile of his town, the hillsides were mostly barren. Now, the landscape is dense with Israeli settlements, many of them built since the Oslo Accord in 1993 that created the Palestinian Authority.
Kashkeesh and his neighbors pride themselves on raising what they claim are the tastiest grapes in the world. His access to his vines was obstructed more than a decade ago when a road was built for Israeli settlers who live nearby. He had given up his precious grapes when I visited in 2003, but he has found a way to tend them again. Some of his neighbors aren’t so lucky; their vines have grown wild or died.”
He writes about an old heart aching personal story of Mr. Kahkeesh;
“I asked him to tell me again the story about the boy and the swimming pool. Listen with me;
It was 1975. Kashkeesh was 29 and had recently been released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for membership in the Fatah guerrilla group. He was working at a resort in Arad when he saw an Israeli infant fall into the swimming pool. The parents were elsewhere, and although Kashkeesh couldn’t swim, there was nobody else to save the boy. So he jumped in the water and took the child in his arms. When an Israeli investigator asked him why he had risked his life to help a Jew, he answered that the boy was a human being.
He tells that story now without much animation. As with millions of Israelis and Palestinians, I suspect that his heart has been hardened by so many years of pain and failure. Will the peace negotiations work amid so much mistrust and anger? I don’t know, but this quest for peace is surely still worth the effort.”
Posted By F. Sheikh