We met with Zochrot member Tamara Avraham and human rights activist, Yacoub Odeh for tea at the
One such example is the story of
The park, built on the ruins of three Palestinian villages has become a natural haven for Israelis and one more slight for Palestinians who were forced to flee during the six day war in 1967. According to Ha'aretz,
Historians who are very critical of the Zionist movement, such as Dr. Ilan Pappe, claim that disregarding the existence of Palestinian villages is part of a deliberate effort to erase their history in favor of creating a new one that suits the Zionist narrative of a country that was barren, and only flourished thanks to groups like the JNF. In a study he published, Pappe analyzes the information that JNF provides on several sites, including the
Pappe also points out that the JNF publishes information about unique sites in the
A recent study conducted by Noga Kadman (as part of her studies in the Department of Peace and Development Research at Goteborg University in Sweden, under the tutelage of Prof. Oren Yiftachel of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), found about 86 Palestinian villages inside the JNF forests - sites she describes as "emptied." Most of the sites have directional signs, but only 15 percent of them mention the villages by their Arab name. Most of the pamphlets and brochures do not even mention the villages. And in half of the literature where the villages are mentioned, the fact that their inhabitants were Arabs is elided. Only in one case did it say how many people lived in the village, and only in isolated instances is there any discussion of the lives of the inhabitants.
"In most cases, the fact that the villages ceased to exist is not specifically mentioned," writes Kadman. "This can be concluded from the text regarding most of the villages, which are called 'abandoned,' and are described as ruins or remains, or mentioned in the past tense."
When we finished our meeting, Yacoub took us to the village where he was born and spent his childhood. The tour of Lifta was just as sad as it was enlightening. Yacoub recounted childhood memories of family gatherings, chores for his mother, and play with friends.
As he relates his story to us, the cracks in his voice tell of the sadness his words cannot. His family's expulsion from Lifta was both quick and unexpected. Like many Palestinians who were forced to flee in order to escape the violence, they took only the key to their homes and little else.
Years later, the area is littered with tears and trash as well as new plans for construction.
In opposition to these plans, Zochrot points out,
And further argues,
We are concerned that if the building plan is carried out and Lifta is repopulated, these actions will further enforce the trauma experienced by the Lifta residents who were uprooted in 1948, and will embody a painful reminder to Palestinians, both in and outside of Israel, of the Nakba inscribed in their collective consciousness. The Or Commission, which investigated the factors leading up to the violence of October 2000, observed that for Arabs in Israel, "The establishment of the State of Israel, which the Jewish people celebrated as the materialization of the dream of generations, entails in their historical memory the most painful collective trauma in its history – the Nakba." In his testimony before the commission, Alik Ron, OC Northern District during the events of October 2000, related to the deep roots of the rage felt by Arabs in this country: "Over the years the sense of the tragedy, of the loss of homes and the loss of land, has not diminished… They experienced a tragedy. [Some] refugees who were uprooted… stayed inside the State, and this sense of loss has not diminished, has not faded, and follows them to this day."
Recently, much attention has been paid to the initiative of Arabs in
Walking through the village with one of Lifta's former residents is an experience that will stay with me forever. It brings to mind the importance of remembering all of our histories – this is truly our only means of avoiding the mistakes of the past.