Sunday, April 30th, 2017

Aitz Bodade – The Lonely Tree
by
Zalman Velvel

Abu screamed, "God is great!" Then he fired a bullet into the belly of the kibbutz woman. She died writhing in agony, along with the nearly full-term baby that was in her womb.
 
Abu's soldiers repeated, "God is Great!" as they slit the throats and stabbed the thirteen remaining unarmed men at Kibbutz Gush Etzion.
 
Not content with their deaths, Abu's men proceeded to tear the flesh and dismember the bodies of the kibbutzniks. When their blood fever had cooled, the Arabs looted the small wooden buildings. After they were cleared of valuables, they set fire to everything, including the grape vines and orange trees.
 
On the next dark, dreary morning in 1948, all that was left of 2,000 years of Jewish dreams, and the sweat and blood that reinforced them, was a blackened, charred landscape littered with torn bodies.
 
Miraculously, there was one sign of life left unharmed, and only one sign. For almost twenty years, the land remained barren and burnt, with the exception of one landmark growing radiantly in the center.
 
In 1967, the Six Day War changed the landscape of Gush Etzion once again. Israelis were now better armed when they fought  for their land. After the battles were over, victorious Israeli soldiers shouldered their guns and stood, mouths gaping, at that one sign of life still growing and flourishing.
 
It was a huge oak tree, hundreds of years old, with its leaves spread out in a large circular crown.
 
A corporal murmured under his breath, "Aitz Bodade" – Lonely Tree.
 
The name stood. The tree was turned into a monument and a tourist attraction,while the surrounding fields turned green again in the Gush, covered with lush grape vines, and succulent orange trees.
 
Thirty years later, Abu's descendants changed their tactics. They made war into a game of annoyance called Intifada. At the turn of the 21st century, after years of Intifada, the tired government of Israel offered to give Gush Etzion to Abu's people, in exchange for a lasting peace.
 
It was then that the Lonely Tree changed again.
 
*******************
 
Orli walked up the steep hill and looked at the Lonely Tree. The tree mirrored her feelings exactly. Half of its branches were naked of leaves, and the other half looked a sickly pale green.
 
Orli felt tired and older than her 31 years. She was thinner than usual, having not eaten anything for two days, just a few scraps here and there for the last week. She was not sure if she would ever again have an appetite. Her dark brown eyes were red from crying and her blouse and shorts were drenched from sweat. It was hot, too hot to be out in the late afternoon, but she could not sleep, and she could not cry anymore, and she did not want to think about Moshe, so she went for a walk.
 
Orli sat under the Lonely Tree, which was a few blessed degrees cooler in the shade. As she sat there, she watched an Arab boy of twelve, dressed in a dirty T-shirt, jeans, and sandals, walk up the hill in front of her. He gathered rocks while singing to himself. He did not see Orli, as he placed stones the size of plums in his pockets. When his pockets were full, he crept silently, like a fox, back down the hill and crouched behind three large boulders. He was perhaps thirty meters from the highway, where traffic sped by in both directions.
 
The Arab boy stood up, suddenly, and threw three rocks, one after another, at the cars. Two rocks missed their mark, but the third hit a Suburu on the windshield causing the glass to spiderweb.
 
The Arab boy watched as the car jammed on its brakes, skidded, lost control, and came within inches of crashing into oncoming traffic. He readied himself to run, but when the car continued on, he smiled and laughed to himself. Once again, he crouched down and waited.
 
Orli felt her blood beating in her ears like thunder as her heart pounded in her chest. She felt an energizing rage, and this rage fueled her tired emotions. She searched under the tree for a weapon. She found a hard, thick stick lying on the ground a few meters away.
 
Orli ran silenty down the hill until she was behind the Arab boy. She screamed, "Bastard!"
 
The Arab boy whirled around, startled. With one blow, she knocked him unconscious.

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Copyright 2012 by Zalman Velvel Inc.
You may print this story for yourself, but not make copies without author's permission.
 
 
 

Über den Author: stuv