The truth is that, for me, it was supposed to be another activity-of-the-left, of those I am accustomed — but this time it was different — I joined, together with Zochrot, the annual camp of the displaced residents of the village of Bir'im in their village —
We posted signs in Hebrew/Arabic
and from thereon there was a strong/alive presence
of both entities together

Bir'im, the twin brother of Iqrit,
a name, a place, that until now I only read/heard about...
A term I tried to come to terms with on the margins of individual memory together with collective

Today, Bir'im became a true place in reality (for me at least)
having an independent existence of its own — alive and breathing and kicking
an unforgettable place explored by curious guests
or residents, the displaced of Bir'im themselves in all their generations — all the days of the year

Bir'im rests somewhere there in the Galilee, between Kibbutz Baram and the towns of Dovev and Chorfeish,
overlooking green hills
and itself as if ashamed of its nakedness
The flowering branches of its fig trees are woven, embracing it from all sides
trying to conceal its innocent/upsurging beauty
without success

And here is the white/intimate church in all her simplicity
and across from her the remains of the village school
and the local stones of the Galilee, from which the houses were built
And despite the attempt to erase them (aerial bombardment)
remained standing still
as if to say:
"Here we are, still here, waiting for you
ready for you to reappear, for the return of my sons and daughters
scattered here across the milky way, Haifa and the surrounding villages"

And here is the house of Dr. Ihab Jirias Hana (in all its glory)
buried in the cemetery of the village
(the cemetery is remarkably well-kept)

And here are the paths still distinct despite the years
winding between the abandoned houses
as if to plead/to say
"Come, return to us
restore us
march, dance on us"

Bir'im — an abstract term that became
a true picture/pastoral/green/lovely —
and to the picturesque place was added
a human aspect
within me

Refugees who insisted/insist
to return to their land/their roots
to return to whence they came, 'asli' [truly, originally]
to their abandoned houses crying to be repopulated

And I see the humane humans
who love so much
patient and tolerant

... and I see Riyad and his extended family
and Issah and Salame from Ramleh
and all the fathers and sons, the mothers and small children
all connected to one another
a connection of family/identification
one from Ramleh
another from Lod
a third from Haifa
a fourth from Acre
and Nur from Yaffa

And the children – young men and young women
boys and girls
today – enjoying the camp
playing exuberantly along the paths of the village
between manicured lawns (kept neat by the Gardening Authority)
and chiseled stones
and listening to the history of
their father's fathers —
Hoping to return one day
to their land, to their inheritance
(as promised them by the State of Israel in the past and in the present)

And I see and cannot give enough
and Zochrot offers to take part at least in the "moral debt"
and a group from Belgium also comes in solidarity

Kind souls, I think,
kind souls —
in a generation that will not know Joseph 

Birem Summer Camp 2004 (4)

Birem Summer Camp 2004 (17)

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Birem Summer Camp 2004 (3)

Birem Summer Camp 2004 (8)

Birem Summer Camp 2004 (10)

Birem Summer Camp 2004 (7)

Birem Summer Camp 2004 (2)

Birem Summer Camp 2007(23)

Birem Summer Camp 2007(22)

Birem Summer Camp 2007 (18)

Birem Summer Camp 2007(27)