3 thoughts on “A Little Piece Of Ground

  1. Breshaun Joyner says:

    Tanks, soldiers, dodging bullets. These are not features of the video game 12 year old Karim enjoys playing in his Ramallah home in the West Bank. These are the elements of his everyday life he must contend with while straddling being a normal boy who loves to play soccer and the constant and ubiquitous occupation of Israeli soldiers. Curfews imposed by the army significantly affect the economic viability and overall quality of life for his family. If his father cannot venture outside to work because of the curfew, he cannot open his store and the store loses money. If they cannot venture outside to purchase goods, they cannot get the medicine needed for Karim’s sister’s ear infection. Yet in Karim’s world, sometimes worry is moot because of the constant control of the occupying army. They are going to do whatever they want to the Palestinians.

    When Karim’s family is stopped at a checkpoint on their way to their extended family’s home in the country, he witnesses the extent of the army’s control over the lives of Palestinians. He is forced to watch as his father and several men and teenage boys are taken from their cars and made to strip and kneel on the ground for over an hour. They are not given a reason why only that they must submit. Karim’s adolescent brain, teeming with a dangerous blend of macho bravado and hormones, is horrified at this sight and wants to act out in violence. He cannot understand why his father does not protest. He understands why the old man next to his father, also naked and trembling does not react but his father is strong. Why does he not refuse this treatment and speak up and stand up for himself? His father has been stripped of his dignity along with his clothes while Karim has been stripped of his notions of manhood and maleness seeing his father weak, on the ground like a coward. “I hate them. I hate them, he thought, unable now to look at his father, who still stood, reduced to an object of ridicule beside the bewildered old man.” To add insult to injury soon after arriving at his family’s home, Karim discovers that the olive grove that has been in his family for generations has been seized by Israeli settlers who now forbid his family from harvesting the olives they have sowed and reaped for decades. Karim struggles with the concept of land and ownership. Why can’t Palestinians have a place of their own?

    Karim meets Hopper, another Palestinian living in a refugee settlement on the edge of town, and begins a friendship that takes him on a journey that tests his loyalty, physical and mental endurance, and level of risk-taking. Together they begin to clear an area that will become the perfect soccer field. Although Karim has reached the age where his mere existence is considered a threat to Israel and is regarded as potential terrorist, it his older brother that wages a campaign to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers and tanks. However, clearing the little piece of ground of all the rubble and debris left over from when Israeli soldiers bombed and bulldozed homes and businesses, is also an act of defiance to the occupying army. It is an attempt to create something meaningful out of meaningless destruction.

    A Little Piece of Ground offers a perspective on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict not typically seen in mainstream news, which is the dominant source of reports from this region available to most people in the United States. It is an important viewpoint because it reflects the existence of a young boy caught up in a cultural and political war beyond his control. Regardless of any side one person takes on this issue, it is difficult to argue Karim, though a fictional character has an authentic experience and therefore should be regarded in the ongoing debate of who owns the little piece of ground set on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

  2. Jennifer Buntjer says:

    The image of a black key, hanging on the wall, is as memorable and striking to me as the tanks rolling across the ground. The artful crafting of Elizabeth Laird’s, A Little Piece of Ground, delivers a poignant story about the occupation of the Palestinian lands by the Israeli militia, but it also delivers a powerful message on the power of place-making.
    “That’s the key to our house…More than fifty years ago, but I can see it like it was yesterday…My mother locked the door to our house as we left and gave me the key…’look after it,’ she said ‘We’ll be back soon.’”- Hopper’s grandfather
    While the elders are remembering places that were once theirs, Karim is actively creating his own place-worlds of soccer fields; computer gaming, car-hideouts, and journal entries of power and celebrity status. While making place is important throughout this book and securing that “Little Piece of Ground,” is significant, it is equally as important to note the care of the heart in not choosing a place; “Karim shut his eyes as they came to the place where his father had been so humiliated. The spot was already etched indelibly on his memory. He didn’t want to look at it again.” The realization that places; historic properties- passed down through generations, or small rectangles created in an afternoon with the paint and rocks, or even a virtual place succumbed to a trade for a piece of jewelry , have some sort of emotional attachment that is never handled with dignity in an occupied state.

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