In 1977, Israel enacted a law that made it illegal for Palestinians to pick za’atar, an herb, and akkoub, a thistle akin to an artichoke or asparagus.
This was done because they are essential to Palestinian cuisine. Given that food IS culture, this is another law that has made it illegal for Palestinians to express their identity in their own home. Israel’s imperialist government criminalizes Palestinians’ culture for profit, fining foragers 160 dollars for their “transgression.”
In Jumana Manna’s revelatory documentary, we bear witness to the state police going on their rounds, arresting native people foraging for food on the hillside.
We bear witness to prosecutors extracting confessions from these foragers, trying to explain to the arresting officers that you can’t separate them from their land. “Nature is me.”
We bear witness to Palestinians preparing, cooking and sharing their revolutionary za’atar and akkoub-laced dishes with their friends and family.
We bear witness to a community forced to deal vegetables as if they were drugs or weapons.
In so doing, herbs and thistles become weapons — weapons against ethnic cleansing, against prejudice. As one of the defiant foragers explains, when you clip za’atar, it grows back stronger.
When you try to clip Palestine, it grows back stronger.
It doesn’t take much foraging to uncover the truth, to bear witness to another tenet of Israel’s ongoing genocide.