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Between Fureidis and Umm El Fahm

Fureidis is a bumpy hummus-colored blanket

flung carelessly over the hill

sprawling behind busy crossroads

two pickup trucks sleep lazily in the dust

a ginger cat hides under their shade

drivers filling up lottery columns

sit in the roadside cafe

sucking pencils and sipping turkish coffee

in between the Xs and the Os


Hassan throws the vegetables into a carton

glistening purple aubergines, sweet melon,

dates, figs, cherry tomatoes and apples from the Galilee

and a sprig of Kusbar thrown in for luck

the whole lot goes on and off the scale

in a flourish

fifty, says Hassan looking nonchalant

as he slips in a few extra cucumbers


Before the Intifada

I would drive up the winding road

and stop at Umm el Fahm

buy a bottle of cloudy olive oil

and a box of scented Rahat Lokum

with pistachio nuts

once a shining black BMW parked me in

when I looked no-one was in sight

I found him in a nearby restaurant

packed with multicolored Moslem humanity

dressed in their best while waiters scurried

between the tables bearing implausible mountains

of shishlik plates

balanced unbelievably on one arm

in the center an open coal fire glowed

and golden finjans warmed themselves beside it


Today I don’t go that way any more

for not too long ago

thirteen young angry pomegranates

burst open blood red on the highway in the hills

so nowadays too many bitter ghosts abound there

and the olives at Fureidis are almost as good


Yet in those twisting grinning streets of Fureidis

may lurk the smarting sons of spirits

for all we know

and into those sugary fruits

a bitter red pepper may find its way



Fureidis – a Moslem town situated on a major intersection at the foot of the Carmel mountain range in the north of Israel


Umm el Fahm – a Moslem town situated in the center of Wadi Ara, a mountain pass linking the center of Israel with the north and the largest town of the “small triangle”  of Arab towns and villages.


Hummus – a salad made of mashed chick peas.


Kusbar – fresh cilantro leaves.


Rahat Lokum – Turkish delight


Finjan – A small pot used for brewing coffee.


Intifada – the Palestinian national uprising against the Israeli occupation that gave birth to the terror attacks on Israel

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© Johnmichael Simon



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