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Posts Tagged ‘right of return’

MY POSTING DATE, MAY 15, 2020is NAKBA DAY

From my journal, interviews, letters, and other writing about internally expelled Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza (once I can enter Gaza), plus their ancestral homelands. And as in this case, people expelled during the Nakba who’ve found ways to resist and remain in Israel as citizens. These dispatches are based on my latest work in Palestine-Israel from mid-May to mid-July 2019 and more recent writing. Intending to return to the region this spring, I’ve decided, because of the coronavirus crisis, to postpone my next visit until fall, 2020, assuming widespread travel can resume.

Interviewed and photographed on July 2, 2019 and interpretation written in April and May 2020. (The immediate threat of Coronavirus infection has eased in Israel and Palestine, so Andrew has been able to reopen his guesthouse, his only source of income. But as of this writing, he has no guests.) This is part four.

Flowers are appearing on the earth, The season of glad songs has come, the cooing of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree is forming its first figs and the blossoming vines give out their fragrance. Come then, my beloved, my lovely one, come.

—The Song of Songs 2:12,13

PHOTOS

Family and Identity

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Andrew’s grandfather, Andrew Haddad, the first, a policeman during the British Mandate period—born in 1903, posted at Tulkarm

ANDREW: The grandfather of my wife actually is British. He was here during the Mandate period between the two wars. And he was some kind of officer. I don’t know. We have no idea about him.

SKIP: Your wife’s grandfather?

Yes. So he just disappeared. We don’t know if he was killed or he just left his daughter, my wife’s mother, in some monastery and he went back. We don’t know. We only know his first name and his family name and maybe his rank. He was a British soldier, major or something like that. And his full name is Alfred Williams. So you know, we have roots also in Britain.

Could you outline more of your wife’s story regarding immigration and travel?

My wife’s story. Her father is from a small village in the Galilee named Jish or Gush Halav in Hebrew. Very near the Lebanese border. They are from a Maronite church. Her father passed away a few years ago. He was a worker, a builder. Her mom was the only person from her family that she knew about. Her father was British and her mom was a German Jew. They had a gene test and they found out that 25 percent of her family is Ashkenazi Jewish.

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Location of the village of Jish (Click here for enlarged map)

Your children?

Actually, not my children. My children did not have their genes tested. It was their second or third cousins. They have the same genes. And [Andrew’s wife’s mother] was left in a monastery to be taken care of when she was 4 or 5 years old. And her father didn’t show up and her mother never showed up. So she was an orphan, actually, for most of her life. She refused to dig into her history. We could not convince her to try to find out about her family. She thinks that it will open a lot of wounds and she refused.

She stayed in the monastery until she married. Lived in a monastery until she met somebody. They had seven kids. Large family. I think that she had a lot of kids because she didn’t want to be alone. [Other than her immediate family] she has no family, no sisters and brothers, no aunts and uncles, nothing. She has nothing. The nuns that raised her are her family.

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Andrew’s wife’s grandmother, Jean Mary Nigem (originally Barbara Williams)

And she feels like she is an Arab. I think that the nuns were aware of her being left alone and maybe they thought that being raised as an Arab will give her more chances to be involved in the community. Still, she is a Christian and most Christians are Arab in this land. On the other hand, Arab is not a genetic issue, it is language, costumes, food, and habits. I believe she learned all of that and she sums up the story of a lot of nations that adopted Arab culture and became Arab. She speaks French because she was raised in a French monastery, St Joseph in Haifa. Later the monastery moved to the nearby town of Isfiya.

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The monastery of St Joseph in Isfiya, now part of Rambam Medical Center

She feels more Christian than Arab; I can understand that.

You identify as Christian. What does that mean?

First of all, I’m a human being. OK. But a lot of tags are put on us.

Part of our identification is where I am from and my family name. My religion or faith. So the basic and fundamental thing is being a human being. We could not be anything else if we are not a human being. Sometimes we make a lot of problems for our humanity. That’s another issue. But I’m a human being. I am an Arab, a Palestinian by sector. By faith I belong to the class of Christianity, slash Catholicism, from Haifa, an Israeli citizen.

So you go to church?

I’m not practicing so much.

OK. Do you believe in the supernatural?

Yeah. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean that I believe with the blind or covered eyes. No, I am a big questioner. I ask a lot. Listen, we are not going to discuss about religion because it is something very private. So discussion about religion that means you get to the private zone.

Like sex. (laughs)

Yeah.

And money.

Yeah.

I won’t ask you how much you earn every year or how’s your sex life. (more laughter)

Why should you need to know that?

That’s not relevant.

Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, exactly.

I know you’re limited in time, but I wonder if you have about ten more minutes to help me find two villages that are near here. And if you are willing, I have to get my computer from the car so I get the names right.

Yeah. Okay. So let’s meet in my place [guesthouse office].

Okay.

Okay. That would be easier for you.

Let me pay for the breakfast.

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Andrew’s wife (second from right) and her family with her mother in the middle.

 

BASIC LAW: ISRAEL – THE NATION STATE OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
(Unofficial translation by Dr. Susan Hattis Rolef)
Basic Principles
1. (a) The Land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established.
(b) The State of Israel is the nation state of the Jewish People, in which it realizes its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.
(c) The exercise of the right to national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish People….

NEXT: More Nakba survivors

LINKS

 

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The Arabs in Israel—Bayan (2017)
Bayan is a quarterly review of Arab society in Israel, published by the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East and African Studies at Tel Aviv University

 


Adalah—The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

 

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Association for Civil Rights in Israel

 

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From my journal, interviews, letters, and other writing about internally expelled Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza (once I can enter Gaza), plus their ancestral homelands. And as in this case, people expelled during the Nakba who’ve found ways to resist and remain in Israel as citizens. These dispatches are based on my latest work in Palestine-Israel from mid-May to mid-July 2019 and more recent writing. Intending to return to the region this spring, I’ve decided, because of the coronavirus crisis, to postpone my next visit until fall, 2020, assuming widespread travel can resume.

Interviewed and photographed on July 2, 2019 and interpretation written in April 2020 (Because of the Covid-19 threat, without guests he needed to close his guesthouse, his only source of income.) This is part three.

OCHA Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt) COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 4 (7 – 13 April 2020)

2020 coronavirus pandemic in Israel+

PHOTOS

His Royal Highness the Emir Feisal, representing and acting on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hejaz, and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, representing and acting on behalf of the Zionist Organization, mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people, and realizing that the surest means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations, is through the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab State and Palestine, and being desirous further of confirming the good understanding which exists between them, have agreed upon the following articles…

Faisal-Weizmann Agreement

Educate to change the mindset—the “DNA”—of Palestinians and Israelis about sharing the land, everyone with equal rights

Listen. If you ask me what is my dream or my vision for solving this problem [of diverse people sharing one land], there is no place for two states between the sea and the river. We know as Palestinians we could not throw out the Jews. That’s a fact of life. And Israelis could not kick out the Palestinians. Also, that’s a fact of life. So there two ways to struggle—fight [using violence] or start thinking differently.

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On the light rail, thru much of Jerusalem, Israelis and Palestinians ride together, 2019

The Israelis tried to dominate for 70 years and they could not succeed because altho they have stubborn heads, we are their cousins. In fact, before that we were brothers, Isaac and Ishmael. We have the same stupid heads. We are stubborn too.

So we can share. We can make one state for two people. And it doesn’t matter who is the ruler. I don’t care if his name is Bibi Netanyahu [former and maybe future prime minister of Israel] or Mahmoud Abbas [president of the State of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority, mainly ruling the West Bank but not Gaza] or anybody else. The state should be a tolerant state. Not ethnic and not religious. It should be a state for all its citizens, period. 

Why isn’t that happening? A lot of people are calling for that.

Because, listen, if you suggest a state for all its citizens to Arabs—local Arabs, Palestinian Arabs here [in Israel] and in the West Bank—what percentage do you think would accept that idea? Ask the Jews or the Israeli Zionists the same question. I am sure that on the Arab side you will find more acceptance for the idea, maybe in two digits, while on the Israeli Jewish side it would be one digit only.

Why? Because Jewish Israelis have the support of the most powerful state in the world. And now your president. So why should they? (Even tho I’m not a capitalist and I’m not against the West, I love to drink Coca Cola and I drive a GM car, but I’ll still against one-sided USA support.)

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Andrew pours himself a drink

We have to change the idea, the DNA. How can we change the DNA? Look, not by power, not by force, not by domination. The only way to do that is thru education. Both sides. I’m not blaming the Israelis or that I’m all in favor of the Palestinians. But I believe that it would take time, at least one generation minimum to start to educate in schools.

Teach the Palestinians or the Arabs that they are not only cousins of the Israelis, but brothers. Much closer than cousins. And the same thing to teach the Jews. Everyone has to understand this.

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Downtown Hafia, remains of a mosque, 2006, photo by Skip Schiel

The idea would be that the only difference is religion, not any kind of…. So the name of the game is education. We have to stop educating our kids, both sides, about hatred, about difference, about superiority. I’m worth no more than any other Jew in the world. But at the same time, he is not worth more than me.

Do your son and your wife share your views?

Yes.

How have you educated your son? Because he seems very knowledgeable. [His son recently graduated from university.]

Yes, he is. As I told you, the only weapon we have is education. I told him, listen, you hear whatever you want. You decide whatever you wish. You’ll have to be open to multiple ideas and you have to build up your personality.

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Conflict resolution class, Ramallah Friends School, 2007

You’ll need to know two things. First, you are a human being, and that’s above everything else. You’ll have to treat everybody as a human being. And second, why we are here. The rest is up to you. I never told him to be more Palestinian. That’s up to him. I told him you have to learn, to get an education. That’s the only source of power.

I don’t want to fight anybody. I don’t want to fight [violently]. I read that war doesn’t kill those who are right; it kills those who are left, the survivors. The war will do nothing for the dead [right or wrong]. Any future war will take those who have remained. I don’t want to be with that pain. I don’t want anybody to be hurt.

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Mediterranean Sea, near Haifa, 2006, photo by Skip Schiel

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But at the same time, I don’t want to be hurt all the time. I want my rights. I want my people back. I don’t understand why Jews won’t accept that idea. If they claimed for 2000 years they were exiled from here and they want to get back to their homeland, if they dreamed about it for 2000 years, how can they ask me to stop dreaming for 70 years? It is just yesterday. We still have people who have their own house keys. They can remember even the names of the street and on which floor they lived.

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Ahmad Ali Hawad, originally from the destroyed village of Ellar, now lives in Aida refugee camp, Bethlehem, Occupied West Bank of Palestine

And you’re talking about a historical issue of 2000 years [Jewish history]. I don’t know if it’s true or not, because it’s actually a biblical thing. It’s not a historical thing.

And I say, OK, if you want to claim that. Then nobody can ask me not to ask for our rights, in particular, the right of return. This has to be for all the Palestinians who want to come back. I think these expelled Palestinians are right. They were forced by power to flee from here and now it’s time to get them back, to make peace between people. They should not be trapped in some foreign places. And they say 22 countries are Arab countries, etc., etc. No, we have one Arab country. We have 22 divided semi countries that the British and French decided about. And we have one homeland. It’s an Arab world.

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You know what? Even the Jews living within them. I have no problem. I don’t care if a Jewish person would live in Ramallah or in Nablus.

How are you treated by Jewish Israelis here [in Haifa]?

Listen, here in Haifa, it’s totally different than in other places. We have to admit that. The people here, the atmosphere here is totally more tolerant than in other places. But still, you can find sometimes that we are second-class citizens.

Could you give an example?

Very easy. Very simple. The anthem says nothing to me. The flag does not belong to me. The law that named itself the national law of Israel. That put me in second degree or third or I don’t know. I’m talking about a civil right. I’m not talking national rights now because I am a citizen. So I have the right to say that.  

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2014 (Boston)

Now, if Israel says that Israel is a Jewish and Democratic state, I’m sorry, I’m not a Jew and I don’t want to have any religion, but I am a citizen. How about that? Is it my land? Is it my country? Is it my state or not?

They said that I don’t do all the duties, which duty? What duty do you think that I’m going to fulfill?

The army?

Yeah, but I didn’t choose to not serve in the army. Nobody asked me to serve. You declare that the Arabs can’t serve in the army. So I’m breaking no law. If I’m not breaking any law, the Israelis have no right to take my rights.

Your guesthouse—getting permits, paying taxes. Do you ever experience discrimination?

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Haddad Guest House, Haifa, both photos courtesy of Haddad Guest House

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No. In that case, no. No, because there’s a lot of bureaucracy….

What about your customers, your clientele? Would there be Israeli Jews who come here and hear the name Haddad? “We saw your name, sir. Sorry I don’t want to stay here.”

You never know but I’m on the safe side. You know why? Because that name is also Jewish. A lot of them, they think that I’m an Algerian Jew or Tunisian Jew because it’s a very common name. But I explain to them that I’m an Arab. And the name actually means blacksmith. Yeah. So, you know, I have a British first name so I can change the family name to blacksmith. And I become British.

And your son is Aseem?

 No, Essam.

And that means a proud boy?

Proud and independent.

Yeah. OK. And you’re Andrew.

Yeah. Because of my grandfather. So it’s a heritage thing, you know? And I am the first male born from my father. And he was the first one to his father. So it’s the custom that he named his son after his father. And the same thing is true for my son. And he’s done the same thing for his son. So actually, I have a grandson. His name is Andrew. 

(From the Greek, Andreas, meaning manly, strong, courageous, warrior.)

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Haifa, 2013

NEXT: Andrew Haddad—I’m a human being. I am an Arab Palestinian by sector. By faith I am a Christian/Catholic from Haifa, and an Israeli citizen.

LINKS

Historical Memory Project on Haifa

Coronavirus in Palestine: Ramadan, and the joy that comes with it, could be just what we need (April 21, 2020)

Voices Across the Divide, by Alice Rothchild (2013)
A powerful documentary movie and oral history project by Alice Rothchild & Sharon Mullally exploring the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through rarely heard personal stories—interviews with Nakba and Naksa survivors
Now available for free streaming at Kanopy (thru your local library)

Turning Points in Middle Eastern History, by Eamonn Gearon
A lecture series beginning with Mohamed and the beginning of Islam to the fall of the Ottoman Empire, a useful background to any work about Palestine-Israel
Available thru the streaming service (thru your local library), Kanopy, or for purchase

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From my journal, interviews, letters, and other writing about internally expelled Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza (once I can enter Gaza), plus their ancestral homelands. And as in this case, people expelled during the Nakba who’ve found ways to resist and remain in Israel as citizens. These dispatches are based on my latest work in Palestine-Israel from mid-May to mid-July 2019 and more recent writing. Intending to return to the region this spring, I’ve decided, because of the coronavirus crisis, to postpone my next visit until fall, 2020, assuming widespread travel can resume.

A special note from Zochrot, responding to the exacerbation of the Ongoing Nakba because of the Coronavirus crisis (shortened message).

PHOTOS

Andrew Haddad, working for a new nation

Interviewed and photographed on July 2, 2019 and interpretation written in April 2020 (Because of the Covid-19 threat, without guests, he needed to close his guesthouse, his only source of income.) This is part two.

We think, as Israelis, that Jews and Arabs should live together. Palestinians have rights of self-determination just like we have. We have to fight also for their rights. One of our slogans is “we refuse to be their enemies.”

—Jeff Halper, Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, 2006 AFSC Nobel Peace Prize Nominee

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How do you work for that change (for Palestinian Israeli rights thru political action)?

The only way that I can do that by law is to send a representative to the parliament, the Knesset. In that arena we can fight. I don’t want to fight on the street. I don’t want to fight with rifles. I don’t want to kill anybody. I don’t want to throw anybody in the Sea. And I don’t want anybody to feel less than me or more than me.

So that means the political game. That’s why we send our representatives. Most of them are actually in the left-wing of the Israeli policy. The majority of our representatives are Arabs because nobody else feels your pain like people like you.

Other than voting. How are you active in electoral politics?

In what?

In the US we call that electoral politics. Holding signs for example, writing letters, signing petitions going door to door for your candidate. Do you do any of that?

Yes, we do that for our candidates. We try to make some educational campaigns. To make those candidates known. The problem is still we have a lot of people who are afraid of being Palestinians or afraid to say that they are Palestinians. And in that case, they prefer to be silent or in a shadow instead of speaking out. They think that it’s breaking the law. And actually, they are short-minded. Sorry to say that.

We have our own newsletters and newspapers. We have our own nonpolitical organizations. They focus on education. Sometimes we make some demonstrations. They do not reach the level they should. You have to understand, this is not the United States. It’s not Canada. When you’re talking about demonstration of Arabs, that means it’s [understood as] anti-Israeli always. Not a civil action. That’s what how it’s understood here. Totally different from when you make any strike or any demonstration in the United States against some issue because you are a citizen. You do that because you feel it’s your duty. Here, when we do such a thing, it’s thought to be anti-Israeli. We are talking about our rights to be fulfilled. And people are afraid of that.

 

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Credit: Ilya Melnikov

 

Andrew, could you fill out your family tree going back as far as you know. Where did your earliest ancestors live?

The earliest that I can recall is about two hundred plus years ago. They were living in Nazareth, but I know that the root of our family and actually most of the Christian Arab families here in the Middle East, the source—it sounds very unusual—should be here in the Holy Land. This is the land of early Christianity, the land of Jesus Christ.

Because of a lot of factors that happened since that era, like the Crusades, many Christians are not actually from here. So the origin of my family is in the Syria of today. You have to understand, when we say “the Syria of today,” we are talking about political borders, artificial borders, not natural borders. So Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria were all part of Greater Syria. People were moving from one part to another part and they did not feel they were immigrants.

Like if you live in Boston and you moved to Louisiana you’d still to be in the United States; you haven’t changed your status, your identity, only the city or the town or the state where you live. The United States is part of your identity. You are an American. So people, when they moved from part of Syria of today to somewhere that is part of Palestine today, they felt they were moving from the living room to the bedroom or to the kitchen. They were still in their own home. We are not newcomers to this land, we are deeply rooted.

We are part of this land, we stayed here, we have never gone anywhere. So the idea that people came over here from different places and they do not belong here is false.

Our family existed in this land for about between 470 to 500 years.

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Greater Syria/Assyrian Empire 617 BCE and 824 BCE (click image to enlarge)

Part of them lived in Haifa—actually Haifa didn’t exist at that time because Haifa is a new city. It’s about 270 years, 260 years old. That’s it. The old one, the historical one, was a small fisherman village, but it was demolished. We are talking about Nazareth and the Galilee. So they stayed in Nazareth and the Galilee. Part of us stayed in Jenin [the West Bank] of today. Also in Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, Ramallah, Tulkarm, and down to the shore. Jaffa, Lod, and all that area.

Are they all Haddad?

Haddad is actually the second largest Christian family in the Middle East.

Are they still in Jenin?

Yes.

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Jenin

Because I’m going there today.

Yeah. You can meet my cousin over there. He has a big hotel in Jenin, a large tourist village. Ibrahim Haddad. Yes.

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Haddad Village, Jenin (photo: Haddad Village)

I will try.

You should.

Can you go to Jenin to visit?

Yes, yes. According to the law, no. You know, because an Israeli should not go inside the West Bank. But I’m not sneaking in. I go to the checkpoint and then get in. So I’m not breaking any law. The Israeli troops set the rules. If I’m breaking the law, they should stop me. Right? So I come to the border and I get in. Nobody says anything.

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Jalameh checkpoint with the West Bank north of Jenin in the background; the luxurious-looking homes in the upper left are presumably in an Israeli settlement. Click here for my blog entry about crossing this checkpoint.

They don’t check your identification?

Yes, sure, they do.

But they don’t stop you.

No.

And coming back?

Sure. Yeah. They will stop any Jewish because they are afraid that any Jewish person inside might be lynched. But the soldiers know that the West Bank is part of us. People there are my cousins My wife’s brother lives in Ramallah. Should I consider him an enemy? Come on.

And you go to Ramallah?

Sure. I’m invited to a wedding in Ramallah ten days from now. Sure we do. It’s part of us. We feel home. And they come over here always. When I say Palestinian, I leave myself out of this sector. I’m talking about Palestinians from the West Bank.

I mean, the Palestinian Authority Palestinians.

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We have on our land what makes life worth living. (Mahmoud Darwich)

TO BE CONTINUED: MORE ABOUT HIS FAMILY ROOTS IN GREATER SYRIA AND THE NEED FOR ONE STATE FOR ALL ITS RESIDENTS, SOON TO BE CITIZENS

LINKS

COVID-19 in times of settler colonialism by Zochrot and Osama Tanous (March 2020)

Baladna, Association for Arab Youth
A developmental and capacity building agency for Arab-Palestinian youth in Israel

Association for the Defence of the Rights of the Internally Displaced (ADRID)
Operating in the 1948 areas among the masses of the displaced

7amleh-The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media

“The last generation”: How occupation is driving Christians out of Palestine, by Peter Oborne (2019)

What It’s Like to Be a Palestinian Journalist, According to an East Jerusalem Editor, by Carolina Landsmann (2016)

Israel Must Choose: Give The Palestinians A State – Or Equality, by Sam Bahour and Tony Klug (2019)

The Chilling Effect among Palestinian Youth in Social Media, by Palestine News Network

What Can South Africa Teach Palestinians: Reflections on our Palestinian youth organizer delegation to Johannesburg, by Palestinian Youth Movement (May 2019)

Read Full Post »

From my journal, interviews, letters, and other writing about internally expelled Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza (once I can enter Gaza), plus their ancestral homelands. And as in this case, people expelled during the Nakba who’ve found ways to resist and remain in Israel as citizens. These dispatches are based on my latest work in Palestine-Israel from mid-May to mid-July 2019 and more recent writing. Intending to return to the region this spring, I’ve decided, because of the coronavirus crisis, to postpone my next visit until fall, 2020, assuming widespread travel can resume.

PHOTOS

Andrew Haddad, about being Palestinian

Interviewed and photographed on July 2, 2019 and interpretation written in March 2020 (Because of the Covid-19 threat, without guests, he needed to close his guesthouse, his only source of income.) This is part one.

A strange stillness lies over all the mountains and is drawn by hidden threads from within the empty village. An empty village; what a terrible thing! Fossilized lives! Lives turned to fossilized whispers in extinguished ovens, a shattered mirror, moldy blocks of dried figs and a scrawny dog, thin-tailed and floppy-eared and dark-eyed. At the same time–at the very same moment–a different feeling throbs and rises from the primordial depths, a feeling of victory, of taking control, of revenge, and of casting off suffering. You see empty houses, good for the settlement of our Jewish brethren who have wandered for generation upon generation. War! That was our war!

—Josef Weitz, land official of the Jewish National Fund and chairman of the first Transfer Committee, 1948

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[Being Palestinian] is about our history and our story. It’s become part of our DNA. We actually suck it with our mother’s milk. We know that. It’s not fake. It’s our truth. We know who we are, why we are here and what happened. Even without anyone telling us, we know our identity, we can smell the air, we can taste the land, and we know the people. We are proud, and we cannot hide our core identity. It’s part of us. And we don’t want to redesign our DNA again. This is who we are and this is what we are and this is what we want to be—Palestinian.

To be Palestinian is not just a title. It’s not just the word. It’s beyond that.

And I think being Palestinian escalated more after the Nakba. If there had been no Nakba I think that we Palestinians would be regular people like everybody else. Like Tanzanians or Louisianans or Germans. It doesn’t matter. The word Palestine or Palestinian became only a title. Now it’s more than that.

I have relatives spread all over the world. All of them fled from here because of the Nakba. Actually, I was supposed to have fled because I’m the first generation after the Nakba.

Some of us fled because of the 1948 war. I was supposed to be a Palestinian refugee, to live in some camp in Syria or Lebanon because my father and my grandfather, they left. I don’t know. But I believe there was no other choice for them but to leave. And they left from Nazareth to Lebanon and then continued to Syria. But eventually they could come back to their homeland, their hometown, Nazareth, before it was captured [by the Israeli army]. So in that case, if the border had already closed, I suppose I would have been born in Syria or somewhere else. But I was born in Nazareth and I am a full Palestinian, born to a Palestinian family within the borders of Israel.

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Nazareth’s mystery mural as an emblem of Palestinian resistance
The Israeli authorities have painted over a mural dedicated to the 1948 Nakba seven times – but local activists continue to repaint it, writes Gawain Mac Greigair.

And so I become an Israeli. And for a long time, nobody would tell us that we are Palestinians. We were just Arabs or Christians or Muslims or whatever. It took a while because the first generation was mostly afraid to speak out.

I remember as a kid we were told not to speak about politics or other controversial issues because even “the stones would hear.” So it was a type of mind control of our people during that era. And after that, we had no resources. Most of our resources were gone. So the only resource that we still had was our location and our mind.

The first, second and third generations after Nakba became more educated than the first. The only weapons we can control are our education and mind development. We began to understand the issue in a totally different way. So we struggled for our identity and existence. Now we see this country struggling against our will in a lot of the laws controlled by the majority. The last one, The National Law of Israel. What does that mean?

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I am Israeli by citizenship, but Israeli citizenship is not part of my identity. Whether I am Christian, Muslim, Arab, Jewish, whatever, Israel has decided to put Jews and Judaism before democracy. Israel says it’s a Jewish democratic state, but it cannot be both democratic and favor Jews. I believe Israel should be a democratic state. Period. No more. No need for any identification more than that. If that were true, I will feel like an Israeli. If I lived in Canada, I’d feel like a Canadian, not an alien.

Let’s go back to 1967 and the Six-Day War when Israel took over the West Bank and Golan Heights. It’s called Naksa or Defeating Day.

Then a lot of Arab youth discovered that they have no hope here. So the Israelis start encouraging Arab youth to lead a better life outside Israel. Actually, my father’s family consists of seven brothers. Four of them, they are in Canada. They left Israel in 1968 and 1970 for a better life. So my family, more than 50 percent of it, is in Canada. Instead of being in their homeland. And that is true for a lot of families and communities here. If you take Beit Jala [part of Bethlehem] as an example in the West Bank, the majority of people originally from Beit Jala now live in Chile, not in Beit Jala. In Chile they actually have a football (soccer) team called Palestino. One of the best football teams in Chile. So we are just regular people, normal people, but we have no normal life here in Israel.

Palestino players.jpg

Why did you stay, not go with your brothers to Canada?

Actually, in the beginning, I thought to go. I made an application and I’m so happy that the Canadian government rejected me because I was poor.

I love this place. I love this land. I’m connected. My roots are here. The political situation here is a problem. But it cannot be like this forever. And that doesn’t mean that I want to demolish Israel, because I have to be careful using that word. But I want to change Israeli politics [to benefit all its] citizens. That’s my right as a citizen and as a law keeper. I’m not breaking the law if I say that I want Israel to be more democratic than it is now. I believe that I’m developing the state to a higher position, not lowering it to be an ethnic state. Now it’s semi-democratic, a Jewish Democratic state for Jews and a Jewish state for Arabs. So I do not understand this idea.

TO BE CONTINUED: HIS ANCIENT FAMILY AND HOW HE ATTEMPTS TO FOSTER CHANGE

LINKS

Op-Ed: Israel just dropped the pretense of equality for Palestinian citizens, by Yousef Jabereen (a Palestinian Israeli Knesset member), July 2018

Basic Law: Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People

Palestinian Internally Displaced Persons inside Israel: Challenging the Solid Structures by Nihad Boqa’i

These Jewish and Arab Israelis Are Creating a New Type of Grassroots Activism, by David B. Green (March 12, 2020) 

Still Locked in Conflict, Israelis and Palestinians Need Each Other To Fight COVID-19, by Daniel Estrin (NPR, March 26, 2020)

Welcome to Lockdown: COVID-19 quarantine and the Gaza experience, by Abdalhadi Alijla (March 20, 2020)

Haddad Guest House

The Rise of Palestinian Food by Ligaya Mishan (February 2020)

In Her Footsteps, by Rana Abu Fraiha, a documentary movie made in 2018 about a Palestinian family living in a Jewish Israeli town

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From my journal, letters, and other writing about internally expelled Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza (once I can enter Gaza), plus their ancestral homelands. These dispatches based on my latest work in Palestine-Israel from mid-May to mid-July 2019 and more recent writing. 

PHOTOS

VIDEO

The past as it is and has been represented- the inquiry into the archaeology of memory’s representations following Michel Foucault—is but a facet of this study. The power of the past as it was lived and is remembered, as it is commemorated and represented, continues to limit, define, and inspire current narratives of Arabs and Jews.

Susan Slyomovics, The Object of Memory, Arab and Jew Narrate the Palestinian Village

July 2, 2019, Israel, Haifa, Haddad Guest House

In a gleeful mood—the guest house, the family and Haifa generally—I wrote my chevrah and adapted the message for the Agape steering committee and a friend, Peter, who’d also recently written:

earlier, driving to haifa somewhere north of tel aviv, i stopped for gas and food along the big israeli highway. pulling in, two dark-skinned young men greeted me with what i thought was unusual welcome. one pointed at the bracelet i wear with the palestinian flag colors, smiled, and asked, “what does that bracelet mean to you?” i wasn’t sure he was israeli or palestinian. i answered, “it means palestinian rights, their human rights.” he smiled again, and thanked me, saying, “i spotted your bracelet before you even stopped your car. we’re palestinians.”

The power of symbol.

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July 3, 2019, West Bank, Jenin, Freedom Theater guest house

A big deal, a dream realized, another pilgrimage (as was finding Deir Yassin): finding and exploring Ein Hod and Ein Hawd, the first, the village Israel confiscated in 1948 as part of the Nakba, now an artist colony, and the second, a previously unrecognized Palestinian village. This constituted a major personal achievement of yesterday and perhaps this entire trip. As Deir Yassin is legendary and known to anyone with any knowledge about the Nakba, the two Ein’s may be less known but still familiar to a few. The artist colony the Israelis constructed when they took over Ein Hawd, kicking out the Palestinian residents who’d been there for centuries or maybe millennia, and what the stalwart Palestinians did to relocate themselves within viewing range of their old lands are both truly impressive—the first of creative reuse, the second of sumoud (steadfastness). Together—perhaps, a huge perhaps—a model window into the future of a shared land.

Ein Hawd, the Palestinian village, is less than 1.2 miles/1.9 km from Ein Hod (straight line), from the Israeli artist community, but reachable only over a torturous up and down road, often pockmarked and partially eroded, 1.7 miles/2.7 km driving. I made lots of photos and filmed part of the connection trip.

 

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Ein Hawd

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Ein Hod

In retrospect: The Two Ein’s, Hawd and Hod-Recent writing for the blog

February 28, 2020, Cambridge Massachusetts

In brief, for millennia (at least since the time of Sultan Saladin’s conquest of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in the 1180s), Palestinians lived in a village called Ein Hawd (Spring or Fountain of Trough) south of Haifa, in the foothills of the Carmel Mountain Range, within sight of the Mediterranean Sea. During the Nakba in 1948, the Israeli army forced the residents to leave. Many left the country for Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan; some to refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, especially Jenin; and about 35 villagers, led by the family of Abu al-Hija, improvised temporary housing across the valley from their village in a barn on village land.

Initially, the Israeli authorities did not recognize the village. In 1988, residents helped to form the association of the Arab Unrecognized Villages in Israel. In 1992, the state finally officially recognized the village, but it was only granted full recognition in 2005, when it was connected to Israel’s electric grid. (Wikipedia)

In 1953, an artist from Romania, Marcel Janco, fleeing the Holocaust, persuaded the Israeli authorities—who’d planned to erase all signs of the village—to leave the buildings remain so he could organize the first-ever and still-only artist colony in Israel.

Bidspirit auction | Marcel Janco $20,000.00* Marcel Janco, - 1895 - 1984. Refugees, 1939,, Oil on cardboard laid down on canvas.jpg

An expulsion by the Nazis in the Soviet Union, 1941, by Marcel Janco (however, he was empathetic with the Palestinian expulsions)

The situation is steadily deteriorating. I had to go. And as soon as possible. I had only been convicted of being born a Jew.

I was not physically abused, I was not raised by legionaries. But I was morally ill. I endured with great intensity the sufferings of my whole people: I experienced, every day, [in Romania] the pain of the Jewish refugees from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, who were begging at my door and talking about horrors that seemed unbelievable to me; we suffered with them and wept with them, thinking of the desperate situation of our brothers in the concentration camps; I wept when we learned how our synagogues were burned and our sacred books burned, how the graves were spoiled, the Jewish cemeteries destroyed; I was filled with despair when I learned that the elders and children and women together, the people of an entire nation, were being driven out of their homes and transported in wagons … to be killed in the gas chambers or burned alive.

Their suffering shook me. I felt threatened – me and all of me – by a great, irreparable danger, I felt that if, by an unexpected chance, I would still save myself from this danger, I still would not be able to, in such a world devoid of freedom, work. You don’t even live. I had to go as soon as possible.

I did not accept to go to France or America, where so many of my friends called me insistently.

Identified with my oppressed, stacked, mocked, humiliated, shattered nation, which the enemies intended to destroy, I decided for Palestine.

I was drawing with the thirst of one who is being chased around, desperate to quench it and find his refuge.

—Marcel Janco, VISUAL ARTS. The confession of a great artist (in Romanian but can be mchine translated)

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On the Way to Ein Hod, Marcel Janco

From the beginning of my work in Palestine-Israel in 2003, I had known about this peculiar juxtaposition. I’ve yearned to visit both villages, maybe reside in both for a few days to explore, photograph, meet residents, and interview. Finally, on my most recent trip last spring-summer (2019), exploring the coast in my rented Palestinian car to locate and photograph destroyed Arab village sites, I managed to briefly, cursorily, explore both sites.

Curiosity was one factor that drew me; but another, discovered only recently, is that the two villages, with decent relations between them, at least not hostile, could represent the future for Palestine-Israel. As do Haifa and the Old City of Jerusalem, where Jews and Palestinians live, pray, and work side by side. Usually without violence.

“Briefly and cursorily” means I walked around Ein Hod, the Israeli arts colony, for a few hours in the hot mid-summer sun last year, photographed art installations and the Janco-Dada art museum established in 1953 by the colony’s founder, Marcel Janco; and met several artists. Meeting people there is easy: I am a tourist, a potential buyer. The art, mostly decorative, often abstract, did not much appeal to me. Plus, how could I afford any of it?

The museum, however, did appeal. I explored it thoroughly, appreciative of Janco’s Dadaist approach which resonated with my impulses. The big find for me was the Dadalab in the basement, serene, mysterious, dark, filled with all sorts of objects like bells, horns, tools, furniture, etc that could be converted into Dada installations, or drawn or painted or sculpted with. And the light! Cool, shadowy, subtle, lilting, like the chords of early Miles Davis jazz.

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Dadalab

I’m embarrassed to admit that in Ein Hawd, the Palestinian village, I only left my car for a perfunctory view of houses and across the valley to Ein Hod. Driving, videoing thru Ein Hawd, holding my phone camera in front of me, easily visible thru the windshield, I noticed several men glaring at me. Who’s this? they might have thought, an Israeli Jew contemplating another removal? To extend their artist colony perhaps? Only months later, while writing this blog, did I learn the crucial role played by the man who brought Israeli recognition, along with municipal services—and respect—to Ein Hawd, Mohammed Abu al-Hija. In effect, matching Marcel Janco: visionary and persistent.

Today [2018], the population of the entire country from the river to the sea is at least half Palestinian, and that proportion is growing. The natives are still there, unified by decades of occupation and colonization since 1967, and they are restless. Those Palestinians who have managed to remain in historical Palestine—in spite of the ceaseless efforts to dispossess them—continue to resist erasure. Outside of Palestine, an equal number remain profoundly attached to their homeland and to the right of return. The Palestinians have not forgotten, they have not gone away, and the memory of Palestine and its dismemberment has not been effaced. Indeed, wider international audiences are increasingly aware of these realities.

Rashid Khalidi, 2018

On my next trip, I intend to explore both Ein’s more fully, reside at least one night in each village, eat in the Ein Hawd restaurant, sip coffee in the Ein Hod café (formerly the village mosque), meet more people, especially founders of Ein Hawd and artists in Ein Hod, and photograph and interview. And ask, what are you doing to create one land for different peoples?

Or are the Palestinians in Ein Hawd subject to further removal? The Ongoing Nakba.

After struggling for recognition for so long, I now recognize, how a group of people, a village, can finally obtain official status of their home, recognition of their right to live lawfully in their own village after so many years. It is true that many years have gone by, but this is a great achievement for everyone, a big step forward. The State of Israel has finally applied a policy of equality to us and I am hopeful that this will prove to be the case for other villages that are in similar situations as well. This step shows that there is hope for additional changes for the better as well. It helps to convince me that equality is attainable, no matter how difficult it may seem.

Mohammed Abu al-Hija, mayor of Ein Hawd (2005)

Mohammed Abu al-Hija, 2004, photo by Skip Schiel

LINKS:

Ein Hod by the Lonely Planet guide book

Trailblazers: The Man Who Changed a Country, New Israel Fund (2018) with a video of Mohammed Abu al-Hija

Tarek Bakri: “We Were and We Are Still Here”

A Free People in Our Land: The Status of the Arab Sector in Israel, by Ilan Jonas (2005)

The Object of Memory: Arab and Jew Narrate the Palestinian Village, by Susan Slyomovics

On the way to Ein Hod | A frame from an interactive new media Installation | 2018

The installation was presented in Janco Dada Museum in the village of Ein Hod. It is influenced by a series of paintings by Janco depicting the village, sometimes burning, with refugees leaving it.

Marcel Janco

Ein Hod Artists’ Village

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (February 16, 2020) lauding Trump’s “Peace Plan” and support and how they solidify Israeli control over the entire Palestine-Israel region

My photos from “In the Steps of the Magi,” a Christmas Pilgrimage (that included Ein Hawd) in 4 parts, 2004

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Road between Ein Hawd and Ein Hod, about 3 km/1 mile, or 15 minutes by car, nearly the same distance as by air, with more contortions—video of part of the ride between the two villages

TO BE CONTINUED

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On the occasion of the UN-declared International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2019

With continuing gratitude to those who’ve already generously funded my Nakba photographic project, now I seek further funding for “The Ongoing Nakba, photographs of internally expelled Palestinians in the West Bank.” Early in 2020, I plan to return for another two-month trip to locate a few key survivors and sites, like people who lived in Deir Yassin, the site of a massacre; and Lifta, one of the few original villages still reasonably intact. I will need to hire colleagues to help me locate survivors and their destroyed villages.

TO HELP FUND THE NEXT PHASE OF MY PHOTOGRAPH PROJECT, PLEASE GO TO MY GoFundMe campaign. THANK YOU.

The human enterprise, yes….I’m trying to reiterate the possibilities that are held out to us by various horizons. I’ve seen horrible human behavior in so many places. I see the pleasure some people take in injustice, and I see their appetite for the violent enforcement of prejudicial beliefs. The question this forces on us is “Are we ever going to outgrow this hatred of the Other?”

—Barry Lopez

PHOTOS

In the fall of 2018, I photographed 15 Palestinians, most first-generation refugees, some second, third, and fourth generation. In the spring and summer of 2019, I photographed another 24 Nakba survivors. I’ve also photographed many of their original regions, their destroyed villages, sites of expulsion where many had provably lived for multiple generations, now in Israel.

With help from many others, I meet the survivors, now often living in refugee camps in Palestine, interview and photograph them, photograph their current living conditions, and return to their ancestral homes (now in Israel) to photograph. I include photos of where and how they live currently in internal diaspora to contrast with their earlier, often pastoral lives, in destroyed villages—in contrast also to how Israelis are privileged to live. Eventually, I’ll add archival photos of their regions before the expulsion.

The project has 4 parts: black and white portraits, color photos of their current environment, color photos of their former villages and towns, and black and white historic photos.

My immediate goal is what I call a multi-platform book, meaning a traditional photographic book but with links to the videos and audios I’ve made, plus resources like maps, timelines, analyses, etc. An example of this in exhibit form is “The Promised Land,” info here: promisedlandmuseum.org.

Record-of-Teeksa-and-blog-posts-Refugee-Project-second-phase

My overarching goal is to draw attention and activism to this particular issue in the larger struggle for a just peace and full human rights for Palestinians.

Since 2003 I’ve visited the Palestine-Israel, photographing a variety of themes, water, youth, occupation, Gaza, and women, among them. My current project is locating, interviewing, and photographing Palestinians living in yet another of their many diasporas, this one internal, meaning in the Occupied West Bank of Palestine. In the fall of 2018, I photographed 15 Palestinians, most first-generation refugees, some second, third, and fourth generation. In the spring and summer of 2019, I photographed another 24 Nakba survivors. Early in 2020, I plan to return for another two-month trip to locate a few key survivors and sites, like people who lived in Deir Yassin, the site of a massacre, and Lifta, one of the few original villages still reasonably intact.

In 1948, Israel expelled some 750,000 indigenous Arabs to clear the land for Jewish settlement, leading to the foundation of the state of Israel. Thus the Nakba (in Arabic), or Catastrophe. Some 5 million Palestinians now live in the West Bank and Gaza—the “internally expelled.” And, with few exceptions, they are not permitted to return to any of their original 400 villages and towns, even for short visits.

Before the Nakba

During and after the Nakba

In Israel, a state established as a national homeland for Jews, in the direct aftermath of one of the most atrocious crimes against humanity,  it is truly mind-boggling that the protection and application of these rights is a struggle. 

Rabbis for Human Rights

For background on the Nakba and refugees, please read the book, “My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness, A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century,” by Adina Hoffman, and the article, “Lydda, 1948,” By Ari Shavit.

PALESTINIANS IN THE UNITED STATES DECLARE THAT
FREEDOM IS THE FUTURE-A CALL TO ENDORSE

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From my journal, letters, and other writing about internally expelled Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza (once I can enter Gaza), plus their ancestral homelands. These dispatches based on my latest work in Palestine-Israel from mid-May to mid-July 2019. 

PHOTOS

The 1948 Palestinian exodus from Lydda and Ramle, also known as the Lydda Death March, was the expulsion of 50,000–70,000 Palestinian Arabs when Israeli troops captured the towns in July that year. The military action occurred within the context of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The two Arab towns, lying outside the area designated for a Jewish state in the UN Partition Plan of 1947, and inside the area set aside for an Arab state in Palestine, subsequently were transformed into predominantly Jewish areas in the new State of Israel, known as Lod and Ramla.

Wikipedia

Nakba-Palestine-Israel-Lod-Lydda__DSC3253

Rajab Mustafa Ghanem

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In Israel’s first months, largely Arab cities emptied as inhabitants were forced to flee. Photograph by David S. Boyer / Corbis

 

For this writing I draw gratefully from Fareed Taamallah’s interview in Arabic, translated by him and revised slightly by me. Published on his Facebook page.

Rajab Mustafa Ghanem, 19 years old in 1948, the Year of the Nakba, worked with his father in a grocery store in the city of Lod/Lydd. Hearing about Jews forced to flee from Europe, he believed Palestinians were to live with them and give them shelter because they were victims of war. Forced from his home by what he called “Zionist gangs,” his family fled by foot, carrying no food or water, first to Ramallah, and then by truck to Gaza, the Bureij refugee camp. After Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, he moved to the Amari refugee camp in Ramallah. He never saw his city again, nor his father and mother who remained in Gaza and died there. Today, 90 years old, he told us his only wish is to die and be buried in dignity in his hometown, Lod, and not in Amari as a refugee.

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Dahmash mosque, Lod/Lydda

One early morning day in May 1948, the Zionist militia or gangs attacked the city with planes, tanks and artillery and told people to surrender. The men were asked to go to the Dahmash mosque. Many went there and the mosque was filled with men. But there was no room for Rajab and his father. The gangs entered the mosque and ordered the men and boys to lie on the ground, shot and killed hundreds including some of Rajab’s friends and relatives.

The Zionists forced thousands of people of the city, including Rajab and his family, to go east out of the city on foot without allowing them to carry anything, out of town, into the unknown. They walked all day without water or food, and some died on the way. Until they arrived in Ramallah a few days later. Then from Ramallah, he went by truck with his family to Gaza, specifically the Bureij refugee camp. He lived in Gaza until 1967 after the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip by Israel, he moved from Gaza to the Amari refugee camp in Ramallah where he lives with his family to this day. He has not seen his city since 1948, nor his father and mother, who died in Gaza in 1995. Today he is 90 years old and he told us the only wish he has is to die and be buried In Lod, in his hometown in dignity and not as a refugee. 

History of the expulsion in 1948

The Friends’ Play Center in the Amari refugee camp was operated by the Ramallah Friends School, and was located in one of several refugee camps in Ramallah. Thanks to Rosi Greenberg, kids and internationals designed and painted this mural—suggesting their dreams, not their reality (photos from 2007—in 2019 apparently the Center no longer operates).

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Ramallah

Ismail_Shammout's_Where_to_1953..

Ismail Shammout’s “Where to?” (1953)

As the bus drew up in front of the house, I saw a young boy playing in the yard. I got off the bus and went over to him. “How long have you lived in this house?” I asked. “I was born here,” he replied. “Me too,” I said.

—Father Oudeh Rantisi, a former mayor of Ramallah who was expelled from Lydda in 1948, visited his family’s former home for the first time in 1967.

LINKS

Israel’s Law of Return

Massacre at Dahmash mosque in al-Lydd

Israeli army veterans admit role in massacres of Palestinians in 1948, Published in Middle EastNews (2014)

Lydda, 1948, By Ari Shavit (2013)

TO BE CONTINUED

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