The way to the spring…is blocked. At least that’s the case for the Palestinians of Nabi Saleh, a small village northwest of Ramallah. The expansion-minded residents of a nearby Jewish settlement, with the aid of the Israeli army that occupies the West Bank, have taken over the town’s water source, which Palestinian farmers depended on to irrigate their fields.
Ben Ehrenreich, an award-winning writer based in Los Angeles, discovered as much when he moved to the West Bank, which Israel captured from Jordan in a war with its Arab neighbors in 1967. Ehrenreich, who lived in that troubled land intermittently between 2011 and 2014 (in part, reporting for Harper’s and the New York Times Magazine), demonstrates that Nabi Saleh is no anomaly. “The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine” emerges as a sobering, iconoclastic “collection of stories about resistance, and about people who resist,” marred slightly by the author’s unwillingness to subject Palestinian militant activity, which has often included terrorism, to moral scrutiny.
“The spring is the face of the occupation,” Bassem Tamimi of Nabi Saleh tells the author. Every Friday, the villagers, joined by international and Israeli solidarity activists, march toward it in a regularized act of protest. “And every Friday Israeli soldiers beat them back with tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated bullets,” observes the author. Afterward, groups of male youths situated some distance away hurl stones at the soldiers, who are generally beyond their reach.