A Sarha Above Nablus Whilst still in Syria I had read Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape by Rajah Shehadeh, the Palestinian lawyer-turned-writer. In his book, the struggles of the Palestinians facing eviction from their land is weaved into the winding wadis and mountains as he finds solace in his sarha amongst the hills of the West Bank. (In Arabic, wadi means “valley” and sarha means “walk”, or “roam”.) I had been keen to hike a little in the region. Heading to the north of the West Bank, the hills in which Nablus is contained provided an opportunity to escape both the concrete of the cities, and the issues I had witnessed over the past few days. Rocks litter the hillside here, and olive trees flourish in the limestone soils. From the vantage of the hillside, I counted the minarets poking above the rooftops of the city below. But this sarha came with a caution. A local man warned about going too far up the hillside: up there are the Yahud. “Jews” in Arabic*. He was referring to the Israeli settlement that suddenly becomes visible as one climbs higher. It was time to turn back. I get the impression that it is impossible to escape signs of the occupation. Note * Throughout the Middle East, one often hears the word “Jews” used to refer to Israelis. Whilst I think that it comes from a refusal to use the word “Israel” and therefore acknowledge the Israeli state, I’m not sure how comfortable I am about the use of this terminology. Here, it has been used verbatim. Update: Google also seems uncomfortable about the word: read this explanation of their search results…

A Sarha Above Nablus

Whilst still in Syria I had read Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape by Rajah Shehadeh, the Palestinian lawyer-turned-writer. In his book, the struggles of the Palestinians facing eviction from their land is weaved into the winding wadis and mountains as he finds solace in his sarha amongst the hills of the West Bank. (In Arabic, wadi means “valley” and sarha means “walk”, or “roam”.)

I had been keen to hike a little in the region. Heading to the north of the West Bank, the hills in which Nablus is contained provided an opportunity to escape both the concrete of the cities, and the issues I had witnessed over the past few days.

Rocks litter the hillside here, and olive trees flourish in the limestone soils. From the vantage of the hillside, I counted the minarets poking above the rooftops of the city below.

But this sarha came with a caution. A local man warned about going too far up the hillside: up there are the Yahud. “Jews” in Arabic*. He was referring to the Israeli settlement that suddenly becomes visible as one climbs higher. It was time to turn back.

I get the impression that it is impossible to escape signs of the occupation.

Note

* Throughout the Middle East, one often hears the word “Jews” used to refer to Israelis. Whilst I think that it comes from a refusal to use the word “Israel” and therefore acknowledge the Israeli state, I’m not sure how comfortable I am about the use of this terminology. Here, it has been used verbatim.

Update: Google also seems uncomfortable about the word: read this explanation of their search results…