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We witnessed the village of Lifta today - a village attacked by Zionist militias in 1947 and soon abandoned by its people as not to experience the reality of neighboring villages like Deir Yasin whose people were massacred. This story is similar to the story of over 500 Palestinian villages destroyed between 1947 and 1948.

Lifta's homes and land were used by Israeli families from 1950 to 1970. Once the homes were no longer needed the village was destroyed. Lifta is now a nature preserve. Homes still stand half erect while refugee families live only miles away.

We walked amidst the rubble of what was most definitely a thriving village - we saw large homes partially intact, a gathering space next to a spring fed pool, congregated in their masjid (mosque) and looked over the beautiful landscape covered in greenery.

The greenery most prominent in the landscape were large clusters of cacti. Our guide, Umar, explained that the cacti were planted as borders between homes. Now the cacti are an indicator of where Palestinian villages used to be.

The cacti continue to grow, quite abundantly and spread across the land of those people whose hands planted them. Growing no longer as a border between neighbors but as a reminder for all who see them growing that there were people who lived on and loved this land.

The word for cactus in Arabic is Sabr. Sabr also means patience. I've witnessed over and over again within each person we've had the privilege of meeting a steadfast presence of patience. The plants embody in the natural world the continued patience and resilience of the Palestinian people.

The plants growing on this land seem to be telling the story of the people who once loved and cared for them. Their poetic language keeps beauty and resistance alive.