Lifta 1

Image: Left: Palestinians rallying in Lifta, northwest of Jerusalem (Apr 21, 2017). Right: from The Guardian article titled “‘We will return’: the battle to save an ancient Palestinian village from demolition”

Much as I welcome the proliferation of articles on saving the ruins of Lifta from the Israeli development industry, I would much rather read articles that focus on saving these ruins for the purpose of reconstruction by their rightful owners, many of whom are just waiting for such an opportunity, armed with deeds and architectural plans, only a stone’s throw away.

The articles one reads now advocating against Israel’s plans to hand over the site to developers seem to stress the idea that saving the ruins of Lifta from demolition will serve to enrich Israel’s cultural and historical “heritage.” Lifta was added to the 2018 World Monuments Watch list of endangered heritage sites.

Lifta for Palestinians, according to this vision, is now a monument, a symbol of the Nakba to feel nostalgic about. At best, it is useful in educating Israeli Jews and the world at large about Israel’s, not Palestine’s, history. After all, doesn’t Facebook locate where I am from as “From Lifta, Yerushalayim, Israel”?

middle finger

Image: Israeli Jews in Lifta hold a middle finger to a group of Palestinian children visiting the site. [Blekh | MintPress News]

Even Palestinians being interviewed for these articles do not veer in their narration from a vision of loss seemingly impossible to redeem: “Lifta is a witness of what happened during the Nakba,” says a Palestinian in an article titled “The Fight to Save Lifta, the Last Remaining Palestinian Village.” Another explains:

In December 1947, the Haganah killed a Palestinian business owner in Lifta. Later that month, one of Lifta’s two coffeehouses was ambushed with gunfire and grenades. The attack killed six and wounded seven. Two months into 1948, the Jewish Agency chairman and future first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, boasted of the ethnic cleansing’s success, telling his political party members: “From your entry into Jerusalem through Lifta — Romema, through Mahane Yehuda, King George Street and Mea She’arim — there are no strangers. One hundred percent Jews.

But a recent article in The Guardian on saving Lifta from Israel’s land authority’s plans to “redevelop” the “abandoned” Palestinian village ends with a sentence that finally strikes the right note:

“… many of Lifta’s houses have a small Palestinian flag painted inside their doorframes and a single statement, or wish, inscribed below in Arabic: ‘We will return.’”

Within this article several images are displayed (the usual artistic views of Lifta’s ruins in various seasons and lighting conditions). None show pictures of the Palestinian families of Lifta who live just a few kilometers away in Jerusalem rallying on the grounds of Lifta for their return.

The reader of these articles doesn’t learn about Dr. Salman Abu Sitta’s reconstruction project and the practicality of his plans for return. Perhaps that’s because so many still disbelieve, like the Israeli writer Amos Oz, that Palestinians can or should go back in both “time” and “space.” Oz called Palestinian longing for return an “illness” of “reconstritis,” shouting at a Palestinian exile from Lifta at a lecture just before Oz died:

If you miss Lifta so much, write a book. Make a film. Write a play. Write up a research. Seek what you have lost in time, not in space… You miss your childhood? That’s OK, but if you start behaving like a 5-year old child [Oz is literally shouting here] because of your childhood longings, you need to be hospitalized!

Well, one such “ill” Palestinian, Dr. Salman Abu Sitta has, in fact, written a book (Mapping My Return: A Palestinian Memoir), but he has also dug up every piece of information and documented the location of hundreds of Palestinian homes and villages before Zionist Jewish forces wiped their existence off the map. What’s more, he is able to demonstrate, with irrefutable facts and figures, that Palestinian return is far from an “ill” fantasy. It is not only possible, but necessary:

In “The feasibility of the right of return,” Abu Sitta writes:

The argument which gains currency, especially among people who believe that the Right of Return is legal and just, is the assumption that Israel is fully populated and that any returnees would displace existing Jewish residents. It will be shown that this fear is unfounded and that the return of the refugees is possible with no appreciable dislocation to the Jewish residents.

… But even in the most congested case, only 154,000 Jews may choose to relocate elsewhere in Israel to allow 4,476,000 refugees to return to their homes and end half a century of destitution and suffering. This is a very cheap price Israel should pay for what it has inflicted upon the Palestinians and still cheaper price to pay for a secure future for both peoples.

Abu Sitta’s huge database is being used as the source of inspiration for students of architecture who are rebuilding Palestinian history — reconstructing that which Zionist aggression has destroyed. To see one such reconstruction of Lifta, watch this:

It is this powerful, paradigm-shifting vision I wish upcoming articles on Lifta would develop, because it promises the feasibility of our return.

 Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.


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One Comment

  1. samir sardana says:

    Let us look at the May 2021 war !

    The Middle East is heading to apocalypse !

    The HAMAS timing WAS perfect in the May 2021 war !

    There is NO REAL political authority in ISRAEL,and Benjy is on his way out
    The Allies of Benjy,are all ULTRA RIGHT ORTHODOX JEWS – who will provoke Benjy
    Benjy and his wife,are ALMOST in Jail
    If the ULTRA RIGHT ORTHODOX JEWS cannot PUSH Benjy,to annex West Bank,and start an Exodus of Arabs,from Jerusalem – in 2021 COVID – then,they will never get another opportunity (which will doom Benjy,and the ULTRA RIGHT ORTHODOX JEWS – forever)
    HAMAS has forced Benjy to crackdown on Arabs,lynch Arabs and evict Arabs – as a retaliation and show of control and strength – thereby, providing more popular support to HAMAS,INSIDE ISRAEL – with the Arabs
    No SANE US President or the UN will support a IDF invasion or blockade of Gaza or annexation – in 2021 COVID by a leader who is on his way to jail and is a caretaker PM
    Benjy needs a DISTRACTION and a VICTORY,and an EMERGENCY (which is the current strife)
    IRAN is possibly to resume N-Negotiations,with the US – thereby giving the US and Iran,multiple levers to play with
    Benjy knows that IRAN is behind HAMAS
    Using the Temple of Solomon,was the TRUMP Card – as it provoked the Israeli Police – and nurturing this fire,can create mass unrest,across Muslims nations
    Unrest across Muslim nations will allow Iran to fish and scuba rocket dive in troubled waters
    If Hamas keeps on firing rockets,that is a victory,irrespective of,how many are killed in Gaza.The rocket saturation and decoy model is meant to ensure that 10-20% penetrate the ADS (Iron Dome) – so the success of the IRON DOME fits in with the PLAN OF HAMAS.It also games the ADS for the NEXGEN ROCKETS (which will come depending on the US-IRAN N Dialogue and events in the Temple)
    To Stop Hamas – IDF will have to ENTER GAZA,as the blockade is of no use – since Hamas is stocked up With the blockade,there will be a lack of food,water,medical aid in Gaza and the Media will be there to report it

    ALL THE ABOVE WILL ENSURE,MORE VC FUNDING FOR HAMAS

    The Temple of Solomon,is DUE to be rebuilt (as per Prophecy).TO REBUILD – YOU 1ST NEED TO DESTROY ! dindooohindoo

    There are 3-500 rockets in the air,over Jerusalem EVERY DAY and there is a stockpile of explosives inside the Temple !

    Anything can happen – and it is all PURE CHANCE OR PROVIDENCE (And the Red Moon has passed)

    If Something happens to Aqsa, or is inevitable – THEN the TURKS will move in for sure – and then,History repeats again !

    Hamas is making new age rockets – and so,there will be manufacturing defects in the Rockets.it is easier to smuggle missile raw materials,into Gaza – than to smuggle the entire missile,from Iran.

    Hamas rockets can REACH Dimona, and will ULTIMATELY PENETRATE the ADS,over DIMONA.The IDF has NO INTEREST,in destroying HAMAS – as it NEEDS HAMAS,to create a so-called terror entity,as an ENEMY OF THE JEWISH people,and the JEWISH state.That justifies the Arab oppression, military state,siege mentality and the fear psychosis,among the Jews !

    That is Y,every 5 years,the IDF pounds GAZA, and takes a few hits – so that the SELF DEFENSE STORY of a state,and a race under SIEGE,since the times of MOSES – continues – and the moolah,keeps flowing in.

    The ADS uses at least 2 rockets,to target the Hamas rockets,which have no remote or AI control,in the TERMINAL DESCENT.So Y do the ROCKETS ESCAPE THE ADS OF THE IDF ? Surely the IDF,using the cutting edge US tech can stop 100& of all the rockets,fired by HAMAS.

    The answer – the IDF DELIBERATELY ALLOWS THE ROCKETS TO SLIP THROUGH – which is Y none of the rockets land of high density targets ! These rockets land on empty houses or kill 1 or 2 people ! A projectile in its terminal descent (with its warhead),has a 100% predictable trajectory of descent.This is the GENIUS of the IDF.This MAGICAL TRAUMA – is COMPOUNDED BY THE MEDIA AND SOCIAL MEDIA – TO CREATE THE FEAR,IN ISRAELIS AND THE HATRED !

    Y is IDF not targetting the launch sites of HAMAS ? HAMAS is using HEAVY AND LARGE ROCKETS – which need sturdy or semi-permanent launchers ? Surely ISRAELI ABR (which are Drones and AWACS) can triangulate the launch site,in 1 or 2 seconds – and these sites cannot be removed, in even 45 seconds – and can be bombed by the IAF,in 1 or 2 seconds.Evem IDF – GBR can triangulate the launch sites in 2-3 seconds.

    But the IDF is NOT taking out the launch sites – because it wants to keep the rockets sailing in ! It will aid Israel in navigating Biden,in the Iran N talks.

    Besides,propping up HAMAS as a Savior of the Palestinians,taints the Palestinians across the comity of nations,UNDERCUTS AND EMASCULATES THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY,and ALLOWS THE IDF,to plunder GAZA – to build the Anti-Israeli hate,in Gaza – which also UNDERCUTS THE CAUSE OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY,and ensures a stream of fighters of HAMAS.

    Even if the PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY wants a 2 state solution – HAMAS and the so-called public opinion – will TORPEDO it – and that also suits,the ISRAELIS as they WANT THE WHOLE OF JERUSALEM for the Jews (With the TEMPLE).Therefore,it assists the MOSSAD propoganda of Palestinians as anti-peace,anti-Jew,anti-israel ………