Monday, February 2, 2009

homes for the taking

Newly arrived persecuted European Jews strolling in Jaffa, 1949

Newly arrived Bulgarian Jews in the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of al-Bassa, 1950

Looting 'Ayn Karim by newly arrived persecuted European Jews 1948

These old black and white photos look like they could be found in any number of old photo albums in a box or on a shelf in someone's house. Stories of family. Of new beginnings. Of immigration. And I guess in some photo albums and families that is how the stories get told.

Well, these photos, like all photos, are layered with meanings, narratives, histories and social, political and economic context. These photos are from the Palestine Remembered site, where there are 1000s of photos that show what Palestine was like before it was invaded, stolen, looted and its population ethnically cleansed and expelled, then re-populated with Jewish settlers and re-named Israel.

The infrastructure and cities and towns and homes and farms were all there. Ready for the taking. The myth that Palestine was an empty desert, is just that--a myth.

These photos illustrate Israeli historian Tom Segev's research report, based on de-classifed Israeli documents found in the Israeli Archives (some are still sealed), that details how the land, the infrastructure, the buildings, the homes, the shops, the factories, and all the possessions, furniture, tools, animals, and machinery of the dispossessed Palestinians was confiscated, cataloged and re-distributed to in-coming Jews. Of course, the army officers got the best homes, particularly eager to take the elegant homes in Jerusalem, Jaffa, in Haifa. Read the report; it's all there; who got what, how that was decided, who did the documenting, and of course, the looting. The looting that was not part of the plan, but, hey, free stuff everywhere! The once-persecuted Jewish settlers became feverish with the riches before them. Homes for the homeless, workshops for the jobless, farms for the landless, just go to your place and start your new life.

Salim El Far recounts:
This house belongs to my maternal grandfather Salim Hatoum. It is situated on the junction of Hariri and Haddad streets (if these names still exist) opposite Raji el Issa Bldg [in Haifa]. The GF is divided in two apartments where lived two families. In the 1st floor lived my uncle Joseph with his wife, his mother and unmarried brother. Uncle Ibrahim occupies the second floor with his wife and 3 children. Nowadays I was told that in every room of the 1st floor lives a family.

I read Segev's chapter last week, one night quite late, and I just couldn't process all I had read. I felt overwhelmed. After all the killing in Gaza of the Palestinians--many whose ancestral homes and streets are in these photo archives--I simply felt my heart so heavy; my head like a lead weight. I felt despondent thinking about the levels of lowness that people are capable of--people who may be your neighbours now. Someone you actually like, whose family was part of the "new settlers" to the new state of Israel. I know a woman like that here in town. I had her over for my garden party a few years back. Her family "went" to Israel in the late 40s.

I want to ask her, which house did your family walk into to? Did your mother and your grandmother ever wonder about whose home it had been and what were the terms of their leave-taking?

How could people, a people so dispossessed themselves, simply walk into homes and take over the homes and possessions of peoples who had been dispossessed by military force, just as they had been? Would they not wonder as they sat on the brocade sofa or slept in the hand-carved bed piled with soft white wool blankets, whose home is this? Would they not wonder as they walked across 100 years old extraordinarily beautiful Oriental carpets, who lived in this house? Would they not wonder as they sat outdoors on a hot summer day in the cool shade of the trees sheltering the courtyard, whose home is this? And would they not wonder as they tended to the chores of their new farm and fed the goats and the sheep, whose animals are these?

Would they not ask these questions? In night as they lay sleeping and it was quiet and dark and they felt safe?

My head was spinning and swimming with this. I wanted to post this earlier, but I am frankly, overwhelmed with the injustice done to the Palestinians and incredulous to the callousness of the Jews of Israel. I used to actually feel that Israelis had a right, too, to share the land. But frankly, the more I read and the more I learn and the more heartache I open myself up to, I wonder. I wonder how the Jews who entered Palestine and the Jews who live there now (some still the original settlers) can do what they do, continue to be part of this ugly injustice, and sleep at night. I wonder how could they not rise up and stop being part of this ugly plan that is such a disaster for everyone but their own comfortable selves? I wonder why don't they rise up and stop their government representatives from spreading the ugly lies and propaganda?

But especially I wonder how they can continue to blame the victims when their own role as perpetrators of injustices is staring them in the face as they go about their days in the homes they have stolen?


gaby said...

ANd where are YOU from??

YOu need to find peace within yourself my friend.
As long as you live in the duality that is so obvious on your site you will never help to achieve peace in the world ...or in yourself.
NOTHING is black and white.Noone is right or wrong.It is an intricate dance of which much of it you do not understand as it is not your life or your karma though perhoas may be in future lives as you are asking for it.
Live YOUR life. Promote true love and kindness...please dont continue your relentless comparisions and prejuidices.
I hope you find some healing, only then will your website promote any kind of peace.Until then it does nothing but perpetrate the violence and hatred found in those crusaders of "peace" who are truly not persons of love and peace.

northshorewoman said...

Peace is not found nor made when others in the world can never have peace because of gross injustices such as what the Zionist Jews have inflicted on the people of Palestine.

If you've been reading my blog regularly, you would know that I very aware of where I come from. I am part of the settler population of Canada. You would know that I locate myself on First Nations land, and am part of the non-native Canadians who are engaged in decolonizing ourselves and working in solidarity with First Nations. You would know that I engage in discussions with First Nations peoples, as do other Canadians who are seeking to repair past and present policies that disadvantage the First Peoples. Canadian at least is multicultural in policy unlike the exclusionary state of Israel where citizenship depends on Jewishness. We don't have highways in Canada where First Nations can't drive on. We don't have sniper towers in Canada manned by soldiers to control the First Nations. Neither do we drop phosphorus bombs on their homes. We finished with identity cards many decades ago. We allow First Nations peoples to occupy government positions--unlike Israel. Israeli Jews refuse to give rights to Palestinians. Of course, we have Canadians who hold racist fears and are exclusionary similiar to the legions of racist Jews. And while Canada has much work to do with First Nations peoples, unlike in Israel, we are engaged in practices of decolonization.

I am well aware of the complexities when I write down my words in solidarity with the disenfranchised--the Palestinians. I am well aware of that there were a small number of Jews who lived along side the Palestinians in Palestine before it was usurped by extremist Zionists, and I am well aware that there are many stories of how the Jewish people came to settle in the stolen land of Palestine, including from Iraq, Iran and Morocco, to name a few.

You need to do your work. It's not with me, my friend, it is with your Jewish and Israeli friends, family, co-workers and community members. You need to work to help rid YOUR people of their fears, racism, violence and hatred towards Palestinians. Your work is there, not here.

Merche Pallarés said...

Gaby, what NORTHSHOREWOMAN is telling you is so right. I'm sure, from your writing, that it is YOU who needs to find peace in your heart. You must be one of the thousands/millions North American Jews brainwashed by Zionist propaganda which no longer holds, my dear. Many intelligent, liberal, intellectual, pacifist Jews are wakening up all over the world and speaking up against Israel's ultra-rightist, fanatical Government. Intellectual Jews have always stood up against all kinds of racial prejudices and injustices (e.g. American southern black-freedom movements in the sixties, the hippy movement, anti-Vietnam war demostrations and many others) WHY can't they criticize Israel??? When it's SO obvious their bigotted, unjustifiable and cruel attacks on the Palestinians??? When the Palestinians weren't even the culprits of your SHOAH, but they've paid for the consequences??? Think about it, dear Gaby. Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

Merche, you are definitely a very powerful, just, and convincing woman with words! I hope to meet you one day in person.

Gaby said...

I am very involved in indigenous rights as I have family that is First NAtions. It is not at all a fair comparision.
I also dont see the First NAtions peoples bombing the Finns!
Im sorry but you have too much to learn and are too set in your ways to be open to peaceful negotiations.Fortuantely there are wise and loving isrealis and Palestinians who are making the effort to find the way to peace and in that place and with those people they are very aware of the faults of BOTh sides of the issue. You se only a small part of the picture. And I can see from all your past blogs that you are not open to seeing this. I am sorry that you are filled with so much hate.

northshorewoman said...

Gaby, using an "authentic other" argument falls into the trap of essentialism and reinforcing dichotomies.

Do we believe that Condaleeza Rice is "nice" because she's a woman? Or that she knows about justice because she's black? or that Obama because he had a black Muslim father automatically is going to be nice to Muslims? Does their skin colour and group history automatically place them in the camp of knowing about injustices? Of course not. We have to think about how power works. Who gets rewarded for taking up what particular viewpoints. We cannot assume any one knows or is for justice and human rights for ALL PEOPLE just because they are part of groups who have been and continue to be disenfranchised, suppressed or stereotyped.

We look at what they think and what are their actions and what are they working towards--and who pays their wages. Condaleeza was a war mongerer responsible for the deaths of many Palestinians and Iraqis, especially Iraqis.

Condaleeza is as evil as Tzipi Livni.

And there are good comparisons to be made with Canadian colonization and Israeli colonization; with US colonization and Israeli colonization--as well as differences, of course.

Maybe you should read AIM's Russell Means, for one. I'll post an article by him soon; he explicitly states that the Palestinians are the American Indians of the nation of Israel.

So, it seems you have work to do in the First Nations community, too. Start with yourself, first.
Are you Canadian in nationality, Gaby? You need to locate the positions you occupy. It's a first step to become self-reflexive of the many, and often conflictual, locations we occupy.

Not only do you have work to do on the resistance of First Nations in Canada, you also have work to do on the Indigenous peoples of northern Europe, who are the Sami, so that you can formulate an argument about the location, history, economics and racialization practices of the Finns, as well as recognize the resistances of the Sami, as well as the racialization of the Finns in historical Swedish and European discourses, before you drop in a comment about "you don't see FN bombing Finns".

First Nations in Canada have taken up armed resistance to Canadian colonization--this is not a past action but continues today as Canada is a neocolonial nation--as we continue to colonize the FN and abuse their human rights terribly. However, FN are not given 3 billion dollars in military aid from the US so their arms are not state-of-the-art, nor are they many. Nor do they wish in general to kill other people. They do not have bombs --in fact, if you are FN, surely, you must know the philosophy of the Medicine Wheel? Bombs are not part of it.

First Peoples in Canada have been very active in RESISTING even testing of armaments on their lands.

Don't you know this if you are FN? Perhaps you have internalized the colonizers history and need to start decolonizing yourself.

And, if Finnish CANADIANS defend the continuing refusal to settle long-standing FN land claims, and argue in their racist ignorance against the human rights of FN and spew racist stereotypes (quite common; I have heard many) well, they are on the "wrong" side of justice, and I will be--as I am --on the side of FN to resist this abuse of human rights.

northshorewoman said...

and one other thing, it is crucial to look at how colonization practices and policies are carried out in different places and in historical context. If we do not understand the history of colonization and the methods of colonizers and occupiers, then we cannot understand the strategies that oppressed groups take up to resist that.

Gaby said...

HOnestly not in all my days nor all the people that I have known have I encountered as much of a one sided closed minded voice as yours when it comes to this issue. The FN people that I know are a beautiful peaceful people and they are not wanting to wipe anyone off the face of the map.There is no connection in any way to Hamas and the violence they perpetrate endlessly towards Jews and towards their own people.If only Hamas could behave itself for any length of time. But they never do. They hate the very existence of a state of Israel.
You want them to leave? Stop the attacks for an extended period of time. It's a no brainer.

When Hamas was elected the US said we'd support them to form an independent government if they would stop the attacks. They restated their goal of wiping out Israel. Hey, the Palestinians elected them, they got what they deserved.

It is very diffiuclt trying to commuincate with someone who has such a hardened position as yours. However your site is SO one sided and so filled with blatent errors and prejudice that I can not help but do something small as it is. I have been to forums where these issues are discussed with an openess on both sides and i do not consider either side prejudice but on a site like yours where only one side is expounded to death it does reek of prejudice though I know you hate to hear that!

I truly hope you can go and live in Palestine as a woman . That would be perfect for you. Im sure you would be very happy!

Aljermi said...

Hey Gaby,
Please do yourself a favor and watch the following two clips (links) may be you too will wake up and smell the coffee.
Gaby, you can't attack a family, take over their home and throw them in the dog house and if they protest you ask them to just be civilized, enjoy their new home and have peace or else (that is a simplified example of what happen in Palestine). Try to listen to these Jewish voices who love peace and justice for every body.

God bless

northshorewoman said...

Aljermi, I like your name. What does it mean?

zohan said...

In some sense the State of Isreal represents a tremendous achievement for the Arab countries. In exchange for a fraction of one percent of their territory they managed to expropriate the property of their Jewish citizens (estimated at between $13 and $30 billion in 1950 dollars) and expel. 870 000 Jews from thier territories without incurring any of the bad publicity that afflicted Hitler, the Arabs managed to accomplish one of Nazi Germany's primary goals, creating a vast empire free of Jews. For the first time in 2500 years an Arab could walk down the streets of Bagdad without encountering a Jew. Morocco, and Algeria rid themselves of hundreds of thousands of Jews.
Peace Zohan

northshorewoman said...

Zohan, are you Gaby's friend from Tel Aviv? It sounds like it because your salutation of Peace rings into the same well as the Zen of Gaby.

Here is some reading for you,

Kreplach said...

The stereotype and simplicity of the evil Zionists had made it aimple world for you. A world you do not seek yo look into as your judgement has been passed.

5 Arab Armies created the State of Israel by first rejecting the 2 state solution of the Bi-National State first formulated by the United Nations in Resolution 181. Their next blunder was requested most Arab Palestinians to leave the arena of battle lest they become collateral damage as the 5 Arab Armies sought to "drive the Jews into the sea" (tyeir words). This was a euphemism for genocide.
Obeying those orders the Arabs left for the inland hills(the West Bank). There they remain. They were fearful to return when the Jewish kibbutzim forces beat bacl the Arab Leagues forces. Why? They were complicit in an attempted genocide. Please dont label me and refute my points instead. Please refute Zohans, I'd like to see some analysis rather than emotions.

Jeshua said...

I'm new to your mini tirade against Israel and it's ZIONIST and apartheid state bullshit. How many Jews and Christians are allowed to live in Saudi Arabia. Talk about apartheid and genocide look to the Saudis, Mecca, Medina and the Koran before you utter one more foul word about the Zionist expropriating Palestinian lands. I've been to Israel several times, have you? Have you seen some of the mansions that the 'poor Palestinians' live in. I've seen some "settlements" on the Palestinian side of the fence that rivals anything the Israelis have built. Until you've been to Israel and witness with your own eyes rather that the Goebbels like propaganda that the 'downtrodden' Palestinians are dishing out nothing you say has any importance or truth.