A Tree Grows in Gaza - First Written in 2004

Gershon Perlman,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Gershon Perlman
Raised in a secular environment in the USA until as a university student Gershon Perlman left everything behind in the 1970s to become an observant Jew living in Israel. He is a 23 year veteran of Gush Katif has raised a family and works as an ESL teacher. He has unique and deep insights in matters of Israel and the Jewish People.

          I am a Jew; I am raising a Jewish family in a Jewish house on Jewish land in the Jewish community of Gush Katif about a mile from the Mediterranean Sea in what many call the Gaza Strip. I have been living with the same wife in the same house for the past twenty-one years.

I really love my house. When we moved in, there was nothing around it, but barren sand dunes. I pretty much designed my house by myself with oversized windows to afford a beautiful view of my not yet planted garden. I put a lot of time and effort into my garden. It’s not just because it’s the Israeli thing to do, making the desert bloom and all that, it’s much more personal, it’s me! My garden is really special to me. I’ve been collecting rocks and stones erecting them and laying them out like a mosaic each time to get it ‘just right’. It’s been a twenty-year labor of love, stopping at roadsides hauling these rocks into the back of my station wagon and sometimes getting strange looks from passers-by, but such is love.

I have some trees in my garden.  A few of them, I planted back in 1985. Nineteen years later, I immodesty admit that I planned well and that these trees give shade exactly where they’re supposed to. During an Israeli summer you really appreciate something like that. My sons grew up in those trees, sometimes having fun and sometimes hiding from angry parents. I’ve got another tree it’s only eight years old. While the older trees may be sentimental this tree is hard to describe. If I tell you about it, maybe you can help me out with the right word. When my sister’s son was killed in a car accident eight years ago she wanted me to plant a tree in Israel. What better place could there be than in her brother’s own backyard. I’m our only family member, who lives in Israel and therefore the only one with a backyard here. My sister and I speak every so often and she sometimes asks me about ‘her’ tree. I guess I’m the tree’s guardian as well as its planter, but that’s ok, I kind of like special tasks. By the way it’s doing fine. Well as far as I can tell it is.

 I once read that plants (and I presume also trees) have feelings. It hurts them when they’re cut or abused and that they even respond to music. I wonder if my trees have heard the news. No! no! no!  no one is planning to do them anything bad. The problem you see is that the prime minister of my country wants to evict me from my house (it’s because I’m a Jew); it’s on the news day and night. The radio is in the kitchen and the tree is just outside the kitchen window. My sister has already bought her ticket to come to one of my son’s bar-mitzvah in the fall. Of course she’ll want to see her son’s tree. What do I tell her, what do I tell her tree? To tell you the truth I’ve never spoken with a tree. I love gardening, but I’m not eccentric.

I’ve never come across any information about plants or trees being able to communicate with one another. I really hope they can’t. This is because I even have another tree that I don’t know how to describe let alone deal with, if it has gotten wind of our prime minister’s plan, I’ll really be at a loss. You see, when my friend and next-door neighbor was murdered by Arabs (he had his throat slit back in the days before another prime minister handed out guns to the Arabs, but that’s another story) I planted a tree in his memory. Like I said, I’m not  eccentric but I love my house, I love my garden and I  specially love my trees, and I can’t leave them.