“Memory of the Cactus”: The Land Does Not Forget

Andrew Greene
2 min readFeb 9, 2024


Credit: Toronto Palestine Film Festival

“Forty years later and it is still screaming.”

In 1967, the Israeli army invaded the Latrun villages’ Yalo, Imwas and Beit Nuba, which at the time were part of Jordan. They ordered every citizen to leave. Anyone who stayed behind would be killed.

This story is related to us by an Israeli historian, eyewitnesses and survivors of the displacement like A’esha.

Credit: PalestineFilms.org

A’esha and her family were forced to leave their home without suitcases, piling whatever they could into their arms and onto their donkey. A’esha was pregnant at the time. They had to leave her 70 year old handicapped mother behind.

Thousands walked away from their homes in silence, only able and willing to cry when safely away from the soldiers.

A’esha returned later for her mother, but she wasn’t there. She grabbed a blanket, a change of clothes for her children, water and a spoon. Israeli soldiers forced her to relinquish these items.

Later, A’esha’s mother was found killed. Her husband too. When A’esha gave birth, her child died seven months later, no doubt due to the trauma. Only one of her kids remembers their father, and he would pay anything for a photo.

These refugees, these people thought they’d be able to return home. They never did. With no right to return, they’d be labeled terrorists if they tried.

Nowadays, this land, their home, is Canada Park, a recreation area built over the village’s remains, attempting to erase the memory of what once was.

Yet activists give surreptitious tours, pointing out not just the remnants of houses and infrastructure, but the cacti. Wherever one spots a cactus in the area, it is a sign of where a Palestinian village used to be. The cactus, the land, does not forget. We can’t either.



Andrew Greene

Writer, director. Creator of The Naked Man Podcast. Human sampler tray following breadcrumbs, forever hungry. @WanderingGreene on IG, Letterboxd & Twitter