In a village south of Jerusalem, lives Asmahan, a woman who owns grape yards surrounded by a Jewish settlement inhabited by American Jews who came to what they believe is their promised land. Asmahan who does not recall any of the traces for the alleged ancestors of the settlers in her grove yard, nor does she remember their presence in her early childhood has to deal with this new reality. She cannot easily access her land nor harvest her grapes anymore. The settlers who are heavily armed with machine guns deliberately cross her way pointing their guns on her and her children who usually accompany her to the harvest of the grapes. Asmahan usually returns back home with a feeling of defeat and anger. Asmahan manages to suppress her anger because she fears for her children’s safety.
One day, Asmahan was awoken by her children’s loud crying and screaming directed at the settlers who were robbing their grapes. For the first time, Asamahan stood ferociously on her backyard and burst out in anger challenging the settlers. These armed settlers who are taking pleasure in committing this robbery are aware they are protected and supported by their government. On the other side of the land, Asmahan is alone, vulnerable and almost completely helpless. Nevertheless, Asmahan’s adrenaline was running high and she even took her slippers off and threw it on them, hoping she can intimidate them. The group of young and brainwashed settlers continued committing robbery while not paying any attention to her anger nor were they frightened by her slippers.
When they left, Asmahan rushed to her grape yard to see if anything was left for her and her family. She was not surprised when she found all the ripen grapes were stolen and what was left were some sprigs of spoiled grapes. Dragging herself with anger she walked home determined to find a way to stop the theft of her grapes. Asmahan spent a few days only thinking about the best way to protect her grape yard. Finally, she was able to figure out a way that will deter their barbaric violations. She realized that settlers only attack during the harvest seasons. Accordingly, she decided to prepare a real surprise for the upcoming harvest time.
The sprigs of grapes started to blossom on vine trees finding their way clearly among the green leaves but their taste remains sour. Asmahan and her young children spent all afternoons over a whole week picking up all the grape sour sprigs they were able to reach. Harvest was accomplished but this time it was a green harvest with piles of unripen sour grapes. Asmahan was able to find a recipe that would change the grape sours into sumac (a well-known national Palestinian herb/spice) with some few other ingredients she was able to make a huge amounts of sumac and filled them in jars and sold it to various grocery shops in the city of Hebron. Asmahan packaged her product and named her label “Sumac for Us, Better than grapes for the Thieves”
The smile Asmahan had on her face seeing the settlers’ disappointment when they were trying to find one sprig of ripen grapes was that of victory. It’s important to note that resilience grows in our backyards sometimes.