A hummingbird’s nest sits in a high branch of the ficus tree on my porch in Los Angeles. Knitting together twigs, leaves, and small scraps, a mama bird has prepared a home for the babies she expects this spring.
I thought about that nest when I saw the ruins of the Abu Eid home in Lod.
This past December, the Israeli police demolished the Abu Eid’s home, and six others on the street, because the families did not have building permits for an area that is zoned “agricultural” instead of “residential.” Authorities acted despite the fact that the families have lived in the neighborhood for years and have repeatedly sought but been refused permits. Meanwhile, adjacent sites have been reclassified as “residential” for an Israeli housing development and a Jewish school.
Standing on the ruins of the Abu Eid’s home, I imagined the slabs of broken cement, bound together by a tangle of brown steel rods, as the building blocks of a nightmare nest. Its hollows are filled with a brown door, a flattened washing machine, and a plastic chair; its sides built up with a white sneaker, a tattered blanket, and a pink blouse with lace trim.
Tragic yet compelling, the smashed house bespeaks the home/no home predicament of Israel‘s Palestinian citizens. An art project befitting an inscrutable God, this nest will hold no babies come spring.
Diane Winston holds the the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California. A national authority on religion and the media, her expertise includes religion, politics, and the news media as well as religion and the entertainment media. A journalist and a scholar, Winston’s current research interests are media coverage of Islam, religion and new media, and the place of religion in American identity. She writes a smart blog called the SCOOP and tweets too.
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