After a day of olive picking near the buffer zone, I ran home, took a shower, and got out my flashcards. All attempts at studying on the field had failed. My Arabic tutor informed me today that Wednesday would be day of the verb. I already knew “to have,” “to want” and “to go,” and so we continued with the most important verbs, practicing present and past tense simultaneously: to take, to cook, to open, to close, to sleep, to hear, to wait , to make/do and then of course, came the most important verb.
“How do you say resist?” he asked.
“Um mookowama?” I answered.
“No, that is resistance. Resist as a command is kowam. But I don’t think we need to learn the past tense.” My tutor smiled, to make sure I understood what he was saying. I did. “Okay, ‘I resist the occupation,” he commanded.
“Ana bkowam al ahtilal,” I said.
“Great!” My teacher said. We went through all the different forms: you resist (feminine), you resist (masculine), she resists, he resists, we resist, they resist, you resist (plural). “Okay, I was just joking about the past tense. Maybe someone they died while resisting.” There was no escaping the past.
I thought of all the Palestinians that had shot and killed over the past few years while nonviolently protesting Israel’s confiscation of their land. And then of course, there had been Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall. I must say, I look forward to the day when the present tense is no longer relevant.