Lion-Hearted

I knew what to do if I saw an Israeli soldier or a settler. In fact, I knew what to do if I saw a variety of dangerous animals. My friend Ahmed told me that if I approached a hyena, I should make myself as big as possible. My neighbor Nadir said to throw rocks to keep a pack of wild dogs at bay. I learned from Khalil’s wife, Jumana, that if I saw a snake I should stand still and yell until a young man came lugging a big stick and beat that snake lifeless, after which I would say shukran, which means thank you. I did not know what to do if I saw a lion. I didn’t know there were lions in the West Bank.

I have learned that you can think very quickly when facing an angry soldier, a heavily armed settler, or a lion. “Well,” I thought, “If there were a soldier standing here, I wouldn’t stop. So I guess I’m going to walk straight toward this lion.”