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An honest Israeli Jew tells the Real Truth about Israel

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  • #16

    Gone in 60 minutes: Entire street disappears


    • #17

      Gone in 60 minutes: Entire street disappears


      • #18
        Détruire toute une ville et ses habitants c'est combattre le terrorisme? Qui est le vrai terroriste dans cette guerre? Certainement pas les femmes et les enfants ensevelis sous ces décombres. Qui aura un jour la volonté de juger les dirigeants sionistes pour crime contre l'humanité comme cela avait été fait pour les nazis. Entre les nazis et les sionistes il n'y a pas une grande différence.


        • #19

          "Hurting small [non-Jewish] children makes sense if it's clear that they'll grow up to harm us, and in such a situation - the injury will be directed at them of all people.”

          - The King’s Torah, written by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, from the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the settlement of Yitzhar.
          ynetnews. com/articles/0,7340,L-4090992,00.html

          “[A] Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he’s gay.”

          - Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs in the current Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, member of the Jewish Home party.
          972mag. com/nstt_feeditem/israeli-deputy-minister-jews-have-a-higher-soul-than-gentiles-even-if-theyre-gay


          • #20
            Gaza Market attack


            • #21
              Israel’s Colonialism Must End

              Ali Jarbawi

              RAMALLAH, WEST BANK — Centuries of European colonialism have provided the world with certain basic lessons about subjugating colonized peoples: The longer any colonial occupation endures, the greater the settlers’ racism and extremism tends to grow. This is especially true if the occupiers encounter resistance; at that point, the occupied population becomes an obstacle that must either be forced to submit or removed through expulsion or murder.

              In the eyes of an occupying power, the humanity of those under its thumb depends on the degree of their submission to, or collaboration with, the occupation. If the occupied population chooses to stand in the way of the occupier’s goals, then they are demonized, which allows the occupier the supposed moral excuse of confronting them with all possible means, no matter how harsh.

              The Israeli occupation of Palestine is one of the only remaining settler-colonial occupations in the world today.

              And it is not limited to East Jerusalem and the West Bank: Although Israelwithdrew its settlers and army from Gaza in 2005, it is still recognized by the United Nations as an occupying power, due to its complete control of Gaza’s airspace, sea access and of almost all of its land borders.
              Over the years, Israel has used all forms of pressure to prevent the Palestinians from achieving their national rights and gaining independence. It hasn’t been enough for Israelis to believe their own claims about Palestinians; they have sought incessantly to impose this narrative on the world and to have it adopted by their Western allies.

              Unsurprisingly, all of this has led to complete shamelessness in mainstream Israeli rhetoric about Palestinians. After all, if one is not held accountable, then one has the freedom to think — and do — what one wants. With no internal or external checks, one can act with impunity.
              The Israeli left is a relic, all but extinct, and the extremist right is entrenched in the Israeli political establishment. Attacking the Palestinians has become officially sanctioned policy, embedded in Israeli public consciousness and politely ignored in Western political circles.
              There is now an extremist, racist ideological current in Israel that not only justifies the recent onslaught on the Gaza Strip, but actually encourages the use of enormous and disproportionate violence against civilians, which has led to the extermination of entire families.

              Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Knesset, recently called on the Israeli army to attack and occupy Gaza, paying no heed to anything but the safety of Israeli soldiers. He then demanded that Gaza be annexed to Israel, and asked the army to use all means at its disposal to “conquer” Gaza, by which he meant that obedient Palestinians would be allowed to stay, while the rest — the majority — should be exiled to the Sinai Peninsula. This cannot be understood as anything less than a call for ethnic cleansing.

              Ayelet Shaked, a Knesset member for the Jewish Home Party, a member of the governing coalition, called on the Israeli army to destroy the homes of terrorist “snakes,” and to murder their mothers as well, so that they would not be able to bring “little snakes” into the world.

              And Mordechai Kedar, a professor at Bar Ilan University, publicly suggested that raping the mothers and sisters of “terrorists” might deter further terrorism. The university did not take any measures against him.

              Such statements are no longer isolated incidents, but reflective of the general sentiment within a country where chants of “Kill the Arabs” are increasingly common. It is no longer an aberration to hear these opinions expressed in public, or by politicians and academics. What is unexpected — and unacceptable — is that such statements are not met with any sort of condemnation in official Western circles that claim to oppose racism and extremism.

              The rise in Israeli racism and extremism against Palestinians would not have happened without the unconditional support that Israel receives from its allies, most significantly the United States.

              Israel cannot continue to be the exception to the rule of international law and human rights. The international community must hold it accountable for its rhetoric and its actions, and begin to treat it like all other countries. It should not be allowed to continue to enjoy its state of exceptionalism and to use this to wreak destruction on the Palestinian people.

              After 47 years of occupation, two decades of stalled peace talks and almost eight years of a strangulating siege of the Gaza Strip, the international community must demand that Israel clearly state what it intends to do with its occupation of the Palestinian people. Since the Palestinians are not the occupiers, but rather those living under occupation, this question cannot be asked of them.

              If Israel wants to continue its occupation and hinder Palestinians’ path to freedom and independence, then it should be aware that the Palestinian people will continue to resist with all the means at their disposal. If Israel intends to end the occupation, then it will find that the Palestinians are more than ready for an agreement.

              What the Palestinians are enduring today in Gaza should be a clarion call for the entire world to end the bloodshed. But it will take more than a cease-fire. It will take peace. And peace cannot happen without an end to the occupation.

              Ali Jarbawi is a political scientist at Birzeit University and a former minister of the Palestinian Authority. This article was translated by Ghenwa Hayek from the Arabic.


              • #22
                Abraham Gutman Israeli student in NYC. Passionate about economics, human rights, peace in the Middle East, and soccer.
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                It Is Lonely Being an Israeli Lefty

                A year after the 1967 Six-Day War, Professor Yeshahyahu Leibowitz, an Israeli Jewish-orthodox academic, warned that the military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights, and the Sinai peninsula would have grave consequences for the future of Israel. Unlike the ultra orthodox sect "Neturei Karta," which joined every anti-Israel demonstration in New York because of a belief that the true Israel would be founded only when the messiah came, Leibowitz warned Israel because he loved Israel. He warned that "A state ruling a hostile population of 1.5 to 2 million foreigners would necessarily become a secret-police state, with all that this implies for education, free speech and democratic institutions." Forty-six years later, it seems that the wrath prophecy of Leibowitz is coming true.

                It is hard being a lefty in Israel of 2014. When so many friends and family risk their lives, who are you to say that it is for no good reason, or even worse, that there is something wrong with it? In a country with a mandatory draft, the word soldier becomes synonymous with "someone between the age of 18 to 21," and when you hear that reserve troops have been drafted, in a small country that means someone you know. When everyone serves, everyone risks his or her life, the only way this makes sense is if it is for a good reason. If as a country, Israel all agrees that the soldiers who are risking their lives are doing so to protect us, then at least they won't die in vain. Calling the recent ground offensive in Gaza a mistake shatters this perception. "We don't have children for unnecessary wars," a bumper sticker states, and it seems that instead of avoiding these wars, Israel has decided that they are necessary.

                At the midst of the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza, a poll in the Jerusalem Postshowed that 86.5 percent of Israelis oppose a cease fire. Although we all have seen previous military operations go the exact same way, although we all know now that none of those operations actually changed anything for the better (and perhaps they made things worse), still the vast majority of Israel believes that a military action this time could be a solution. And still, in this very hostile political climate, there are those who marched the streets of Tel Aviv last Saturday to demand an end to the war in Gaza and to the occupation. They were met with an angry mob, the same mob that Professor Leibowitz predicted would be there, facing them with violent statements such as "Death to Arabs" or "Death to lefties." In Israel of 2014, the thousands who went to the streets last Saturday and others who share their beliefs, myself included, are considered extreme in our views and to some even traitors.

                Outside of Israel, I thought, there might be opportunities for Israeli lefties to promote dialogue and peace. But quickly I saw a pattern. Every conversation I had with "pro-Palestinian" advocates started with a set of questions to see that I am not an "occupier" in disguise. Only after I revealed where I stand on land, Jerusalem, refugee rights, whether the leaders of Israel are war criminals or not, and if I define the atrocity as occupation, ethnic cleansing, or genocide, only after answering all that, can we start talking. One wrong answer and I'm not worthy to talk to and obviously I don't have empathy for the Palestinian cause.

                In Israel I am considered to be a lefty who hates his own country. In the States I'm an occupier whose every attempt to dialogue is normalizing the occupation and diminishing the Palestinian struggle. When Dania, a Syrian America classmate of mine at Hunter College, and I started the social media campaign #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies, we wanted to create a space, even if it is a virtual one, where people from both sides can be a part of the solution instead of marking each other as a part of the problem.

                Just like anything else about this conflict, our campaign was also greeted with a lot of criticism. I learned a lot from many of the comments, and I took some to heart. Others just blamed us for a range of actions that our Facebook page supposedly caused -- from killing children in Gaza to firing rockets on Israel. When it comes to talking about the conflict, it seems that there are only two options -- either we agree, or you caused it and are making it worse as we speak. This culture is a real barrier to a solution. How can you reach agreements and compromise when the debate is so unproductive?

                I believe and pray every day that my generation of Israelis will be the one who will go to the polls on Election Day and vote for peace and the end of the occupation. At the same time I pray that the "pro-peace" community will embrace the Israelis who are swimming upstream in their own community, being ostracized, and sometimes even threatened. I know it is hard and it has been going on for years, but here is my plea -- you might have given up on Israel and Israeli policymakers, but please don't give up on us, the Israeli people.


                • #23

                  Senator David Norris" Israel bombs first and weeps later".


                  • #24

                    A former Israeli supporter from Texas explains why he is now boycotting Israel.


                    • #25
                      Gaza: Some Secrets Few Will Say Aloud

                      Gary M. Burge

                      Professor of Theology at Wheaton College (Chicago) specializing in religion and politics in the Middle East

                      Is everyone in Gaza crazy? Did they deserve what happened to them?

                      I was flying through the Phoenix airport this summer, stopped for lunch, and found myself sitting next to two men who were loudly discussing the recent Israeli bombing of Gaza. "They deserved what they got." "Israel should bomb them back to the stone age." "Gaza is nothing but a den of terrorists." I quickly figured out that I had to change tables. Besides. This was Arizona and I was in "conceal-carry" central.

                      So I thought: should we step back and get a wide view of this place. How did Gaza become what it is? And what is it like to live there? The news media hasn't the patience to explain this and if they did, it might surprise their audiences. No one can deny that Israel has a right to self-defense and it cannot tolerate waves of rockets threatening its cities.

                      But is there more to the story?

                      There is:

                      (1) Refugees. It is little-known that when Israel became a nation in 1948 it expelled about 750,000 Palestinians from their homes. Israeli historians Benny Morris andIlan Pappé have now overturned the myth that they left voluntarily. This is what some call Israel's "original sin" in that it pursued ethnic cleansing to redress demographics that were against them. Many Palestinians fled to the West Bank and surrounding Arab nations (and were never allowed to return home). Others fled south to Egypt and the oasis of Gaza. Today Gaza has about 1.7 million people and over half are descendants of these refugees. So, as Cambridge historian Colin Chapman has said, "the rockets that Palestinians have been firing from Gaza have been landing on areas from which their parents and grandparents were driven out in 1948."

                      Take Ashkelon. This is an Israeli town about 35km north of Gaza. But wait. In 1948 the town had about 12,000 Arab residents and a thriving textile industry. But during that war it was shelled fiercely by Israel and a forced expulsion pushed all but 1000 Arabs into Gaza. Some slipped back home and they were rounded up and kept in camps until an expulsion order in 1950 removed all but about 20 families. Then most of these people then ended up in Gaza too. And the town? It was repopulated by incoming Jewish families. The Gaza refugees haven't forgotten this.

                      (2) Casualties. As of this week (Aug 28) about 2,000 Gaza Palestinians are dead and over 10,000 have been wounded. And on the Israeli side: 67 (mostly) soldiers have died. According to the UN, of these Gaza casualities, 1400 were Palestinian civilians. And of those injured, 3000 were children. 1000 of these children will have life-long disabilities. It is no wonder that we've seen UN staff express outrage at what they see. But the UN has taken its own losses. 30 of their Palestinian staff were killed and 11UNRWA personnel were killed.

                      This is remarkably disproportional and it explains the limitations of the military arm of Hamas, the ruling government of Gaza. And it makes ludicrous the claim that Hamas could destroy Israel. It also underscores Israel's world-class military (sustained by U.S. technology and funding) and its effective "Iron Dome" anti-missile defense system which rendered Hamas' missile-barrages relatively ineffective.

                      However Israeli bombing of Gaza has been a staple of the region for years. In 2008-09 another bombing campaign (Operation Cast Lead) did the same thing killing 1400 people there. In 2012 (Operation Pillar of Cloud) repeated it (133 killed). And since the election of Hamas in 2005 (and its complete takeover in 2006), Israel has pursued a policy of assassinating Hamas political leaders with rockets and has successfully killed hundreds. But at the same time, it has killed many innocent civilians as well. Which has led to worldwide criticism.

                      The bottom line: Israel has been actively bombing Gaza for a long time. Of course Israel will argue that these are preemptive strikes on those whom they judge to be terrorists. But many have argued - as in the present war -- that the deaths of civilians have crossed a moral line. And besides, who gets to decide that this or that person is a "terrorist" and worthy of assassination?

                      (3) Conditions on the Ground. Gaza is perhaps one of the worst places to live imaginable. Period. Its population density is one of the world's highest and its living conditions are shocking. For eight years Israel has had Gaza under a crippling blockade. And it is severe. The problem is that building materials that could reconstruct Gaza can also be used to build tunnels. And so steel, gravel, pipe, concrete, etc. have not come in. But there is more. Israel also limited the importing of food and has been accused of calculating calories in order to keep Gaza's economy on the brink of collapse. To make life miserable, inexplicably at one point shaving cream and soda were blocked. And chocolate. Chocolate? Most of the tunnels that Israel decries are not "terrorist tunnels" used to attack Israel. They are economic. They sneak in everything from cars to chocolate. I even saw a photo of donkeys coming through the tunnels from Egypt.

                      But there is more. About 70 percent of the people in Gaza are food dependent. Over 60 percent of the water there is undrinkable. And thanks to the destruction of Gaza City's only power plant, electricity is off. This means pumping fresh water into the system is a problem as is the removal and treatment of sewage. And this means disease. Lots of it. Unemployment? 45 percent -- one of the world's highest. And the list could go on. Add to all of this the remarkable bombing of population centers recently and you have an environment rife with hopelessness, anger and despair. Exactly the sort of breeding ground for any organization -- religious or otherwise -- that offers some degree of empowerment and revenge.

                      (4) The Consequences. I have visited Gaza prior to the current round of fighting. And it is stunning. And it is no surprise that numerous Jewish organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace are leading the way condemning what is happening in what they call "the world's largest open air prison." People of conscience don't just see the rockets flying out of Gaza, they recognize that hope has taken flight as well. As a man there told me: "When you're already dead, you're not afraid of dying." That worldview is a prescription for genuine terrorism.
                      And perhaps this is the consequence. Conflicts like this reinforce anger. Toxic anger. They simply do not pacify a population. I see photos of children who have been shredded by Israeli shrapnel and I wonder. What will these children be like when they grow up? How does one recover from the traumas they have witnessed? Lesser traumas in the west harm people for the balance of their lives. What happens to a little girl who watches her family cut to pieces by a bomb?

                      Israel contributed richly to what Gaza is today. And failed Palestinian leadership contributed as well. Even Egypt is complicit. Gaza has been a jointly built horror of unspeakable proportions. Gaza is not a lively neighbor-nation sitting next to Israel who just happens to hate the Jewish state. It is a camp surrounded by an army and threatened regularly one of the world's elite militaries.

                      We should expect that militant groups like Hamas will exploit the anger there. I have a feeling that if any of us were born in Gaza we would feel uncontrollable anger. We would find it utterly unacceptable. What if the situation was reversed and Gaza was filled with Jews who were surrounded by an aggressive Arab army and a crushing blockade. Would the world's reaction be different?

                      But the real challenge is what happens next. How do we fix Gaza and not simply end the fighting? If we don't fix it this tragedy will repeat itself in another five years.
                      Gary M. Burge, Ph.D., is a professor of theology at Wheaton College in Chicago, IL. He writes extensively on the Middle East and has traveled frequently to countries from Iraq to Libya. He is also the author of numerous books and articles on theology as well. His recent publications on Israel/Palestine include Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to Holy Land Theology (2010) and Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians (2013).
                      Last edited by Maximo; 08-27-2014, 05:27 PM.


                      • #26

                        Le terrorisme israélien


                        • #27
                          While Netanyahu beats the security issue to death over Iran, he ignores what is happening in his own backyard.

                          “The West Bank has remained an occupied territory for over 47 years. During this period we have ignored international treaties; expropriated land; moved Israeli settlers from Israel to the occupied territories; engaged in acts of disinheritance and theft. We have justified all these actions in the name of security.

                          Over the years, the motives for the occupation have merged into the following: economic exploitation of the occupied territories for the well-being of Israeli settlers and their needs.

                          In our eagerness to maintain control over the occupied territories, we have developed two separate legal systems: an advanced, liberal system for Israel and Israeli settlers; and a cruel, abusive system for Palestinians in the occupied territories.

                          In effect, we imposed an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately after their conquest. This oppressive regime exists to this day.

                          The regime of occupation is not only morally unjustifiable, but it also undermines Israel’s security and endangers its existence.

                          The Palestinian people are entitled to an independent state.

                          Do not expect them to accept a state that not only lacks territorial contiguity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but is also dismembered by Israeli settlements and foreign military outposts stuck like thorns in its side.

                          This will only lead to renewed military conflagrations between Israel and the Palestinians."

                          Former Israeli AG Michael Ben-Yair, November 2014 and signed by over 700 Israelis including former ambassadors, military and educators


                          • #28
                            Why I No Longer Support Israel

                            My family shed "tears of joy" on May 14, 1948, when the Jewish State of Israel was established as a safe haven for Jews. I was five at the time and didn't quite understand its significance, but I had been taught that an integral part of Judaism was anti anti-Semitism. A number of Jewish displaced persons (DPs) lived in my neighborhood, some of whom had been in concentration camps. I also had relatives who had died in the Holocaust, and my parents warned me to never trust the Goyim (Gentiles).

                            When I grew up and evolved from Orthodox to secular Jew, I still felt a non-religious affinity to my Jewish "homeland." I had no desire to make Israel my home, but I viewed it as a prophylactic against future Holocausts. I later learned that the establishment of Israel was not a day of unadulterated joy for everyone -- because Jews settled in a country inhabited by other people and forced many of them to leave. In other words, Israel created Palestinian DPs. Nevertheless, I continued to support Israel, focusing mostly on the anti-Semitism of countries in the Middle East that denied Israel's right to exist. However, I had a more nuanced view that required balancing security for Israelis with human rights for Palestinians.

                            I also began to think that the Right of Return had outlived its usefulness. I'm fine with Israel taking in Jews who live in danger elsewhere, but not for giving immediate citizenship to Jews like me solely because my mother happened to be Jewish. Aren't displaced Palestinians more deserving of the right to return than I am? Most Diaspora Jews (Jews living outside of Israel) disagree with me and support the Jewish right of return, even though you can't literally "return" to a place you've never been.

                            Much has been written about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opposition to President Obama's diplomatic initiatives with Iran and whether House Speaker John Boehner should have invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress without consulting the president. However, I want to focus on Netanyahu's Zionist notion that all Jews living outside of Israel are in exile and should become Israeli citizens. In a recent piece, I described my view that patriotism involves pointing out your country's faults and working to make it better. As a patriotic American, I resent Netanyahu telling me that I'm living in exile. I live in Charleston, South Carolina, home of the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the United States. I prefer the words of its rabbi at a dedication ceremony in 1841: "This country is our Palestine, this city our Jerusalem...."

                            After the recent terrorist attack in Paris, Netanyahu called for all European Jews to flee Europe and become Israeli citizens. And where would he house them -- in even more bulldozed Palestinian farms and homes? How about encouraging Jews to make their own countries better, rather than run away? Netanyahu seems eager to hand Adolph Hitler a posthumous victory: a Jew-free Europe.

                            My only reason to accept Israeli citizenship would be if I could improve the country by eliminating some of its terrible, internal policies. For instance, Israeli law forces secular and non-Orthodox Jews to comply with the religious monopoly of the Orthodox in matters of conversion, marriage, and other intrusions on behavior. I married Sharon in South Carolina with no religious test required, but Jews in Israel may only have an Orthodox wedding regardless of their religious beliefs. Were I an Orthodox Jew in Israel, Sharon and I would still have had to travel to another country to marry because she is not Jewish.

                            When it comes to women's rights, parts of Israel are like Muslim countries, requiring modest dress so men won't become aroused, making women pray separately so men can't see them, and restricting where women can sit on certain public busses. I think Israel is better than most (maybe all) other countries in the Middle East, but I don't want to grade on a curve.
                            Were it not for the Holocaust, I don't think there would be a Jewish state of Israel to provide a safe haven for Jews. Hitler did not distinguish between religious and secular Jews, and neither should Israel in official state policy.

                            Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948 called for a Jewish state that "ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race, or sex." However, the Israeli cabinet recently approved a bill that would define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, reserving national rights only for Jews. While not yet law, this anti-democratic bill would officially relegate the 20 percent of non-Jews living in Israel to second-class status. Such a law would be an Orwellian modification of their Declaration of Independence saying, in effect, "All citizens are equal, but some citizens are more equal than others."

                            Israel is facing the same kind of struggle that many other countries have encountered -- between democracy and theocracy. Unfortunately, Israel has recently been headed in the wrong direction. I will again become a supporter of Israel when it lives up to the ideals in its Declaration of Independence by putting human rights and social justice above sectarian concern and treating its minorities as truly equal citizens.

                            By Herb Siverman


                            • #29
                              The Dispossessed

                              Sixty-seven years ago, Israel created a Jewish state, and my grandmother was made homeless.

                              By Saleem Haddad

                              The author’s grandmother, Beirut, 1957.

                              Courtesy of Saleem Haddad

                              Every year, on May 15, I ask my grandmother to tell me the story of how she was made homeless. It happened 67 years ago. She was 14, the youngest of 11 siblings from a middle-class Christian family. They had moved to Haifa from Nazareth when my grandmother was a little girl and lived on Garden Street in the German Colony, which used to be a colony for German Templars, later becoming a cosmopolitan center of Arab culture during the British Mandate. When I ask her to recall what life in Haifa was like back then, her eyes fix on the middle distance.

                              “It was the most beautiful city I have ever seen. The greenery … the mountains overlooking the Mediterranean Sea,” she says, as her voice trails off.

                              My grandmother remembers clearly the night her family left. They were woken up in the middle of the night by loud banging on the front door. My grandmother’s cousins, who lived in an Arab neighborhood of Haifa, had arrived to tell them that Haifa was falling. The British had announced they were withdrawing, and there were rumors that the country was being handed to the Zionists. At the time, the German Colony had been relatively insulated from the incidents of violence in the rest of the country, which included raids and massacres of Palestinian villages by Zionist paramilitary groups. Yet the Haganah, a paramilitary organization that later formed the core of the Israel Defense Forces, saw the British withdrawal from Haifa as an opportunity and carried out a series of attacks on key Arab neighborhoods where my grandmother’s aunts and cousins were living.

                              “That night our Jewish neighbors told us not to leave,” my grandmother remembers. “And my father wanted to stay, to wait it out. But my mother … well she had 11 children, and of course she wanted us to be safe. And her sisters were leaving because of the attacks in their neighborhoods.”

                              The Bathish family. The author’s grandmother, the youngest of 11 children, is second from left in the front row. Circa 1936–37.
                              Courtesy of Saleem Haddad

                              The family debated all night. In the morning, they reached a decision. They each quickly packed a small suitcase and left the rest of their belongings. “We hid the most valuable things we couldn’t take in a locked room in our house, thinking it would be safe until we came back,” she tells me, chuckling.

                              As the women of the family packed, my grandmother’s older brother, who had once been employed by the British forces, struck a deal, allowing them to leave on one of the last British vehicles withdrawing from Haifa. With what little they could carry, my grandmother’s family travelled to the Lebanese border, hiding in a British army vehicle.

                              When they arrived to Na’oura, on the border between Palestine and Lebanon, they were shocked to see so many other people from across the country. “It felt like the world had ended. The borders were overcrowded with cars and trucks full of people and belongings fleeing the violence. Others were leaving by sea.”

                              To this day, Palestinians of my grandma’s generation wear the keys to their old houses around their necks.

                              At the border they were ordered into a car, which drove through Lebanon for a few more hours. They were dropped later that night in Damour, a coastal town just south of Beirut. It was dark, they didn’t know anyone, and with no place to rest, the family of 13 slept on the streets in front of a supermarket, the dirty ground littered with rotting fruits and vegetables. As the sun rose the next day, they walked the streets of the unfamiliar town, recognizing friends and neighbors from Haifa who were also wandering the streets aimlessly. After hearing that Beirut was too crowded with refugees, they headed to Jezzine, in south Lebanon, where friends helped set them up in a tiny room in the home of some family friends.

                              “All summer we waited for news that we could go back,” my grandmother says. “By September, we realized there was little hope, and made plans to move to Beirut.”

                              For the next few years my grandmother’s family survived through the goodwill of friends and strangers, as well as through food parcels, given to them by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which contained, among other things, powdered eggs, much to my grandmother’s fascination. Her older brothers eventually took up jobs in Beirut to support the family. My grandmother’s family was lucky on balance: As wealthier and Christian refugees, they were given Lebanese citizenship. However, the vast majority of Palestinian refugees were never naturalized, instead placed in one of the dozen UNRWA-operated camps in Lebanon, where they continue to live to this day.


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