Saturday, June 4, 2011

The book of a shell -- author: The sea. -- Ibtisam Barakat 2011

كتاب الصُّدَف: تأليف البَحر -- ابتسام بركات 2011
The book of a shell -- author: The sea.
-- Ibtisam Barakat 2011

“Ibtisam Barakat is not only a luminous writer and thinker, she is a wondrous healer, too. In this exquisite, tender account of her Palestinian childhood, nothing is missing—love, attachment, struggle, fear, humor, resilience. The child in this story carries more wisdom and a keener sense of justice and injustice than do most people in seats of power. Tasting the Sky should be read by everyone with a humane interest in the story of Palestine.” —Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Habibi

Tens of Thousands of dollars in legal fees/lawyers/ court battles later....

Spring 2011 "While posting pictures of my father and grandfather, my 2 1/2 years old grandson was sitting on my lap and I was trying to explain to him that his grandfather (me), also had a grandfather...He got to see a picture of his great-great grandfather! How cool is that?!" Mike Hanini Odetalla (Abu Odeh)

A 100% Authentic Palestinian: Mike Hanini Odetalla's Grandfather, Suleiman, Allah Yirhamu, passed away in 1953, and yet Zionist criminals found a way to forge his signature on a "Sale of Land" documents dated October 1967...Tens of Thousands of dollars in legal fees/lawyers/ court battles later, Mike's family was able to "prove" that he couldn't have signed these documents from his grave.

1979 Palestinians: Musa (Mike's brother), Um Suleiman (Mike's mom), Mike Hanini Odetalla(Abu Odeh), Suleiman (Mike's brother)

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?

Mike's LIFTA Album: Ethnically Cleansed 1948

UN Resolution 194 from 1948 "The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so..."

UN Resolution 194 from 1948 "The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible..."from IMEU: All refugees have an internationally recognized right to return to areas from which they have fled or were forced, to receive compensation for damages, and to either regain their properties or receive compensation and support for voluntary resettlement. This right derives from a number of legal sources, including customary international law, international humanitarian law (governing rights of civilians during war), and human rights law. The United States government has forcefully supported this right in recent years for refugees from Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor and elsewhere.

In the specific case of the Palestinians, this right was affirmed by the United Nations Resolution 194 of 1948, and has been reaffirmed repeatedly by that same body, and has also been recognized by independent organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The U.S. government supported Resolution 194, and voted repeatedly to affirm it until 1993. At that time, the Clinton administration began to refer to Palestinian refugee rights as matters to be negotiated between the parties to the conflict.

Sands of Sorrow (1950 film) Council for the Relief of Palestine Arab Refugees

On the plight of Arab refugees from the Arab-Israeli war. Dorothy Thompson speaks on the refugee problem. Refugees live in tents in the Gaza Strip, are given blankets and food by Egyptian soldiers, and receive flour from UNICEF. A Lebanese priest conducts services. Refugees work as plumbers, carpenters, tailors, and shoemakers in the city of Jerusalem. Doctors vaccinate refugees against disease. Shows the squalid living conditions in refugee camps, starving children, and emphasizes the hopeless condition of the refugees.

Friday, June 3, 2011

From one writer to anouther.... Diana Abu-Jaber

"My Palestinian grandmother, who was most decidedly the master of her house, amassed a great library: She collected books, some written in Arabic, many in English. But she told me that one of the best authors she knew of was a poet, a Bedouin woman named Hanan.

Hanan recited her poetry: she didn't know how to read and write, but she knew how to observe, detail and describe her experience. She knew how to feel deeply and then how to convey those feelings so they kindled within the minds of the listeners." Diana Abu-Jaber

From One Writer To Another

Lilies Know ... a poem by Anne Selden Annab

Lilies Know

Even when wanting
to wander away
you can't

Palestine pulls

What is life
but loyalties

of different types

lilies know
to bloom

birds to sing

and time
time holds truth
in a key

the future

poem & photo copyright ©2011 Anne Selden Annab

Tinkerings... a poem by Anne Selden Annab


Many might be inspired by Ernesto as in Che
but for me

It's Bell every in
Second Star To The Right, And Straight On 'Til Morning

Reality is today mortally wounded Palestine needs us to believe-
needs us to clap- needs us to sing out ... needs us to want to believe
in Palestine.

Needs us to look at the darting beam of focused light playing the stage-
willing to visualize the beauty of wings and life and laughter

Needs us to love Palestine home

the same way fairies can be found
in every garden....

poem copyright ©2011 Anne Selden Annab

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ever Reaching... a series of poems concerning Palestine by Anne Selden Annab

Ever Reaching... Al Nakba, 53 years
A series of poems by Anne Selden Annab
Commemorating the Palestinians and their 53 years of suffering [as of 2011 it is now 63 years] and their never ending struggle to live and prosper, despite the horrific and demoralizing circumstances under which they must live.
     Ever Reaching...  Al Nakba-
53 Years

In Israel- ever reaching
the land lays fallow
weeds of concrete blocks
and bitter minds
displace the fragrant herbs.

Cities rise
full of excuses
for all they're not.

In Israel- ever reaching
a child's ethnicity
or lack there of.

In Israel- ever reaching
borders are but another
war to rage

another zone
to raze

another village

with foreign eyes
who have never seen
the beauty of the hills.


Eyewitnesses.... Al Nakba-
53 years

still live,
looking on

as lush lawns
are layered over
a land once grazed
by woolly lambs
and scampering

A land once
with stories
and laughter,
and flowing
like water in a brook.

Generation to generation
shifting and blooming
like spring flowers
bursting forth
every where
and every one

knew of a cousin nearby
falling deeply in love
or cooking
or sewing
or tending to an orchard
of ancient olive trees.


Black Flags... Al Nakba
53 Years

Black flags
flap and flutter

and dance on the desert breeze

all the wounds
and the deaths
and imprisonments

all the homes lost
and sons destroyed
and daughters maimed

All the dark reflections
of storm clouds
collecting in a well

and all the inked shadows
of a moonless night
that swirl
in the splash
and sweet draught
of cupped water
splashed on thirsty lips:

All the hope
that these dark dark memories

will be answered by justice-
The truth kept safe
by a mother's constant love.


Blood to Ink... Al- Nakba
53 years

Luscious gardens are grown
from a trickle of water
and a handful of seeds:

Papyrus grows tall
full of wild birds
eared owls and egrets
and insects
and fish. Time passes.
Things change

Vellum is carefully scraped
worked with berries and ore

Words lovingly copied
even as

Trees turn to paper

blood to ink

And the paper
is painstakingly

the cherished
of Palestinian

depopulated by gunpoint in 1948.


A Mother's Hand... Al Nakba
53 Years

Bless all those
who love
and linger in their love

A mother's hand
on a child's heart

gently, ever so gently,
reminding her child
of his sacred place

in the hearts of all.

Bless all those
who know and understand

and keep safe

every child

of any age

and race.

poem & photo copyright ©2002 Anne Selden Annab

Israel’s Narcissism Shines Bright in Jerusalem

"Netanyahu, just like his predecessors, are insulting the very essence of Jerusalem. It is not Jewish, but it is not solely Muslim or Christian either. That would be selfish and intolerant. Jerusalem and its layers of history, humanity and religious significance cannot be claimed by one. To do so is offending the significance of its walls, its mosques, its churches and its historic stones.

Jerusalem, quite frankly should be an open city. This is really the only solution that would do justice to all those who wish to worship in it, to relive its history and to appreciate its beauty. Jews claim they are finally able to return to the Western Wall to pray. That would be fine if that were the case for other religions as well. Palestinian Muslims from the West Bank and Gaza cannot pray in Al Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam and Palestinian Christians just kilometers away cannot worship in the church where Jesus was crucified. If anything, Jerusalem has been increasingly isolated from its Palestinian surroundings through Israel’s system of exclusion, manifested in the separation wall, the checkpoints and the permit system firmly in place for Palestinians.

To put it plain and simple, Israel cannot claim for itself what it denies to others and still call itself a democracy. Neither can it hold a monopoly over a city of such significance to all peoples and faiths such as Jerusalem." Joharah Baker

Israel’s Narcissism Shines Bright in Jerusalem

Freedom for Palestine - OneWorld: International musicians OneWorld release historic first ever uk single for 'Freedom for Palestine'.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Palestinian artist stamps passports

VIDEO: A Palestinian artist has designed his own unofficial entry stamp for Palestine which he offers to tourists when they arrive.
Palestinian art student Khaled Jarrar shows a 'State of Palestine' stamp at the central bus station in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 31, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS TRAVEL TRANSPORT SOCIETY)

Palestinian art student Khaled Jarrar poses for a photo with a 'State of Palestine' stamp at the central bus station in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 31, 2011. Living in occupied territory, the Palestinians do not have their own frontier controls. Jarrar has decided to fill the institutional void with the entry stamp of his own design, which he offers to foreigners as they disembark from buses. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS TRAVEL TRANSPORT SOCIETY)

Palestinian art student Khaled Jarrar poses for a photo with a 'State of Palestine' stamp at the central bus station in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 31, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS TRAVEL TRANSPORT SOCIETY)

Thousands of pro-Palestinian activists and demonstrators march to the Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, May 30, 2011 as they marked the first anniversary of a deadly raid by Israel on a Turkish aid ship bound for the Gaza Strip. The same ship has been refitted and is preparing to sail for Gaza once again next month. An international coalition of activists said Egypt's removal of a 4-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip last weekend will not affect their plans for a new flotilla, which will depart from various European ports in an attempt to breach Israel's sea blockade. (AP Photo)

A car drives next to Israel's controversial West Bank barrier in the Arab-Israel village of Baka al-Garbiyeh May 30, 2011. Some families in the village, which straddles the Palestinian territory's boundary, are Palestinians who live in an area between the barrier and the 1967 line. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY)

A donkey stands next to Israel's controversial West Bank barrier in the Arab-Israel village of Baka al-Garbiyeh May 30, 2011. The village straddles the Palestinian territory's boundary and is home to a few Palestinian families who live in an area between the barrier and the 1967 line. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY)

A Palestinian girl swings from a tree next to Israel's controversial West Bank barrier in the Arab-Israel village of Baka al-Garbiyeh May 30, 2011. Some families in the village, which straddles the Palestinian territory's boundary, are Palestinians who live in an area between the barrier and the 1967 line. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY)

Palestinians ride boats in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Gaza City May 30, 2011, during a rally marking the first anniversary of the death of nine Turks, who were shot dead last May when Israeli naval commandos seized a Turkish ship that was part of a flotilla trying to break the Gaza blockade. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST ANNIVERSARY)

A Palestinian resident stands on the shovel of a bulldozer as he tries to stop the disabling of a water pump by Israeli authorities in Kafr Dan, a village in the occupied West Bank near the city of Jenin May 29, 2011. Israel says it disabled nine illegally placed water pumps in the village on Sunday, calling it an effort to curb water theft in an arid region. Water distribution is a key issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. REUTERS/Nir Elias (WEST BANK - Tags: AGRICULTURE CRIME LAW POLITICS ENVIRONMENT)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (seated, L-R), Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa attend the opening of an Arab League committee meeting in Doha May 28, 2011. The Arab League decided on Saturday to seek full U.N. membership for a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital, ignoring opposition from the United States and Israel. Picture taken May 28, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer (QATAR - Tags: POLITICS)

Reflected in the his glasses, a man watches a rally in support of Egypt at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip. Egypt on Saturday reopened its Rafah border crossing with Gaza, allowing people to cross freely for the first time in four years, in a move hailed by Hamas but criticised by Israel.(AFP/Said Khatib)

A Palestinian child looks trough the window of a Tuk-Tuk, a three-wheel vehicle, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, May 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Palestinian Historian and Ambassador for Palestine at UNESCO , Elias Sanbar poses after being awarded the Commander of Arts and Letters, in Paris, Saturday, May 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

A Palestinian woman carries her bag as she crossed at the Egyptian side of Rafah border crossing , Saturday, May 28, 2011. After a four-year blockade, Egypt on Saturday permanently opened the Gaza Strip's main gateway to the outside world, bringing long-awaited relief to the territory's Palestinian population and a significant achievement for the area's ruling Hamas militant group. The reopening of the Rafah border crossing eases an Egyptian blockade of Gaza that has prevented the vast majority of the densely populated area's 1.5 million people from being able to travel abroad. The closure, along with an Israeli blockade of its borders with Gaza, has fueled an economic crisis in the territory. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Palestinian Mohammed Ahmed, reacts as he holds his father's passport at the Egyptian passport administration at Rafah crossing port, Saturday, May 28, 2011. Egypt officially and fully reopened its passenger crossing with Gaza at the town of Rafah, after a long period of restrictions aimed at isolating the Hamas militant group that rules the Palestinian coastal strip which could ease the isolation of 1.4 million Palestinians there.(AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Ben White: Myths perpetuated by Israel as to why the "right of return" is impossible are easily debunked when looked at logically.
Turning the 'right of return' into reality
Myths perpetuated by Israel as to why the "right of return" is impossible are easily debunked when looked at logically. by 31 May 2011 12:02
The May 15 Nakba protests put the issue of Palestinian refugees back on the table [GALLO/GETTY]
After years of marginalisation in the peace process, the Palestinian refugees are back on centre stage.

On May 15, Nakba day, the refugees forced their way on to the news agenda; in the past two weeks, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have been compelled to comment on what has always been so much more than a "final status issue".

During his remarks in the Oval Office, and in response to an op-ed in The New York Times by Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli PM Netanyahu dismissed the refugees' right of return as fatal to "Israel's future as a Jewish state". But the permanent expulsion of one people to make way for another is a hard sell, which is why Netanyahu and others rely on oft-repeated myths about the refugees.

One myth is that the "creation" of the Palestinian refugee "problem" (a euphemism for ethnic cleansing) was a consequence of the Arab countries' war with Israel. This claim was undermined - almost despite himself - by Israeli historian Benny Morris, who though joining the attack on Abbas' op-ed, noted that 300,000 Palestinians had lost their homes before 15 May 1948.

In fact, as serious historians and research have shown, Palestinians left their homes and villages through a combination of attacks, direct forced removals, and fear of atrocities.

The expulsion of the refugees was ultimately realised by the forcible prevention of their return, the destruction of villages, and the legislative steps taken to expropriate their land and deny them citizenship.

A second myth manipulates the question of the Jews from Arab countries, around 850,000 of whom left between 1948 and the 1970s. Israel's apologists try and suggest that these "Jewish refugees" somehow "cancel out" the Palestinian refugees, as if the residents of Ramla or Deir Yassin were responsible for events in Baghdad and Cairo.

More than a hint here of "all Arabs are the same".

In fact, most scorn the link, such as Israeli professor Yehouda Shenhav who wrote that "any reasonable person" must acknowledge the analogy to be "unfounded". When the US house of representatives in 2008 called for linking the issues of Jews from Arab countries and Palestinian refugees, The Economist wrote that the resolution showed "the power of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington".

Put simply, one right does not cancel out another. Ask those pushing this propaganda if they support restitution and redress for all refugees, Jewish and Palestinian, and they fall strangely silent.

What kind of return?

But it is the exposure of a third myth that is the most explosive: that a literal return is unfeasible. In the words of the excellent, engaging "in new ways with the spatial, political and social landscapes of Israel-Palestine" means that instead of asking "can we return?" or "when will we return?" Palestinians are suddenly allowed to ask "what kind of return do we want to create for ourselves?"

A discussion on what implementing the right of the return would look like is taking place. There is the long-standing work of Salman Abu Sitta and the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), as well as studies by Badil and Decolonising Architecture Art Residency. Recently, the Israeli group Zochrot published in their journal Sedek a fascinating collection of articles on realising the return.

Many people are familiar with the words of Israeli military chief of staff Moshe Dayan at a funeral in 1956, when he reminded those present that Palestinian refugees in Gaza had been watching the transformation of "the lands and the villages, where they and their fathers dwelt, into our estate."

Less well known are the thoughts of his father, member of Knesset Shmuel Dayan, who in 1950 admitted: "Maybe [not allowing the refugees back] is not right and not moral, but if we become just and moral, I do not know where we will end up."

There can be no doubt that the obstacle to a resolution of this central injustice is the insistence on maintaining a regime of ethno-religious privilege and exclusion.

After 63 years of dispossession, the refugees have been once again revealed to be at the heart of the issue, for it is they who best exemplify what it means to create and maintain a Jewish state at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians.

Ben White is a freelance journalist and writer, specialising in Palestine and Israel. His first book, Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide, was published by Pluto Press in 2009, receiving praise from the likes of Desmond Tutu, Nur Masalha and Ghada Karmi.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Through Lifta, We See Our Palestine... By Joharah Baker for MIFTAH

In 2001, renowned Palestinian intellectual Ibrahim Abu Lughoud passed away in his home in Ramallah. He was not buried there however, nor was he flown back to the United States where he spent the majority of his life. Instead, Dr. Abu Lughoud, in perhaps the first actual “return” of a Palestinian refugee, was buried in the old cemetery of Jaffa, the place of his birth, alongside his father.

In death, Dr. Abu Lughoud was able to achieve what millions of Palestinian refugees strive to accomplish in life. For many, it is too late. After 63 years in exile, most of Palestine’s original refugees have passed away, passing down the memories of their former life and land to their children and grandchildren. In the case of Dr. Abu Lughoud, Jaffa lived within him no matter where he went and what he did. It was on his insistence that he be buried in Jaffa, a not-so-simple feat since Israel did not want even a dead Palestinian allowed that right to return.

Among the many things Dr. Abu Lughoud embraced both in life and in death, has been the collective will of the Palestinians to remember their homes, to demand that justice be done and to resist any and all attempts at erasure.

Today, this will and determination is represented in the ruined village of Lifta, northwest of Jerusalem. It is the embodiment of all that is Palestinian, all of our history, our past, our nostalgia for what was lost and our determination that it not be thrust into oblivion.

The village of Lifta is the only pre-1948 evacuated village that was not transformed into a highway, a city or a settlement by new Israeli colonists. Today its ruins stand as testimony to a life that once was for its inhabitants – low stone houses, a mosque, olive presses and communal ovens. The land of Lifta, once massive, has been mostly confiscated – the Knesset, Hadassah Hospital and a Hebrew University campus are all built on some of Lifta’s agricultural land. However, the center of the village, where the ancient stone edifices stand have so far been left untouched (save for the original holes blown into the roofs by Jewish gangs to make the houses henceforth uninhabitable). They have been abandoned mostly, with only a few houses on the fringe taken over by Jewish families, the old spring used as a picnic ground and barbeque area for young Israeli teens.

The inhabitants of Lifta either settled in east Jerusalem – only a few kilometers from their original homes or were exiled to other areas of Palestine and across the border. But many can see their abandoned and ruined homes from their own windows, drive by them on their way to Jerusalem’s center or, if in exile, on the many web sites set up in the village’s name. For years, although Lifta remained depopulated and in Israeli hands, at least the Palestinians could see the actual remains and be reminded of what their Palestine looked like over half a century ago.

Today Israel is trying to obliterate even that memory. An Israeli plan is awaiting legal approval to tear down the ruins of Lifta and build luxury houses, a hotel, boutiques and a museum in its place. The physical remains of Lifta, just like the hundreds of Palestinian villages before it, will be wiped off the face of the earth.

There is much opposition to the plan, not least of all by the Palestinians whose memory is etched in the old homes and soil of Lifta. But this is just another chapter in an old/new story. Israel has tried for 63 years to erase the memory of Palestinians, to eradicate their historical narrative and to ensure that nothing remains of the Palestine before Israel.

However, we are not finished. The march to the borders of pre-1948 Palestine on Nakba Day, the symbolic keys hung in the homes of so many refugees, keys to the houses they were forced to leave behind, and the tombstone over a mound of soil marking the grave of one lone Palestinian refugee overlooking the sea of Jaffa all point to a single truth: Palestinians will never forget their history, their homes or their right to return. Nor should they.

Joharah Baker is Director of the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at

The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy


Sunday, May 29, 2011

My letter to the Guardian RE The ruined village Palestinians will never forget...

RE: The ruined village Palestinians will never forget, The ruins of Lifta are the final remains of the Palestinian hamlets that fringed Jerusalem until 1948. Now plans to bulldoze them are causing outrage

Dear Sir,

I very much appreciated Harriet Sherwood's most recent story concerning the tragedy of Lifta and the Palestinian refugees, but she could have included more facts.

Israel really should have respected the Palestinian refugees right to return to original homes and lands in 1948. The United Nations certainly did make clear at the time that they must. Instead years have gone by- and Israel has continued to push more and more Palestinians into forced exile and despair.

Zionists have been very good at convincing themselves and any one who will listen that Palestinian refugees can't ever return. I think Zionists are wrong.

Anne Selden Annab

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."Eleanor Roosevelt

The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

The ruins of Lifta are the final remains of the Palestinian hamlets that fringed Jerusalem until 1948. Now plans to bulldoze them are causing outrage Odeh surveys the ruins of Lifta: 'This is where I was born. Here I breathed my first breath. The first water I drank, I drank here.' Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum

The ruined village Palestinians will never forget

In the soft golden light of a late spring evening, as yellow flowers are beginning to bloom on giant cacti, Yacoub Odeh climbs up through knee-high grass to the ruin that was his childhood home. For a man in his eighth decade, he is surprisingly nimble as he navigates ancient stones that litter the ground. But behind his light step is the weight of painful memories of a lost youth and a fading history.

"Here is my house," he says, sitting on the remains of a stone wall in whose crevices wild flowers and saplings cling. "Now only the corners remain. Here is the taboun [outdoor oven] where my mother used to bake bread. The smell!"

With distant eyes, he describes an idyllic childhood in a place he calls paradise, where families helped one another and children played freely amid almond and fig trees and on the rocks around the village's natural spring.

The place is Lifta, an Arab village on the north-western fringes of Jerusalem, for centuries a prosperous, bustling community built around agriculture, traditional embroidery, trade and mutual support. But since 1948, shortly before the state of Israel was declared, it has been deserted. The population, according to the Palestinian narrative of that momentous year, was expelled by advancing Jewish soldiers; the people abandoned their homes, say the Israeli history books.

Lifta was one of hundreds of Arab villages taken over by the embryonic Jewish state. But it is the only one not to have been subsequently covered in the concrete and tarmac of Israeli towns and roads, or planted over with trees and shrubs to create forests, parks and picnic areas, or transformed into Israeli artists' colonies. Some argue that Israel set out to erase any vestige of Palestinian roots in the new country.

Now, 63 years on, the ruins of Lifta are finally facing the threat of bulldozers and concrete mixers. A long-term proposal to sell the state-owned land for the construction of luxury housing units and a boutique hotel on the site is awaiting the authorities' final approval. It has caused a furore. Opponents of the plan include those who believe Lifta should be preserved as a monument to history....READ MORE