72 years and counting

Two decades after building this house in Jerusalem’s Talbiya neighborhood and posing for a photo with his family, Shukri Al Jamal was expelled from his home during the Nakba, along with the rest of the neighborhood’s Palestinian residents. The home is now populated by Jewish Israelis. (Courtesy of Tarek Bakri)

JVL Introduction

In a three-part podcast series, +972 Magazine sets out to explore what return means, 72 years since the Nakba.

Henriette Chacar, Editor at +972, was lucky. She grew up in her family home in Jaffa’s Ajami neighbourhood.

Palestinians who remained in the city after the nakba were rounded up and lived under military rule behind metal fences in what the new Israeli rulers called “the ghetto”.

But in a cruel sense, she points out, her family were lucky. The got to stay in their home.

What of those who didn’t?

In a series of podcasts over the next few weeks, +972 Magazine tells a few of their stories.

This article was originally published by +972 Magazine on Fri 15 May 2020. Read the original here.

PODCAST: The project bringing Palestinian refugees back home

Henriette Chacar | Editor

Growing up, whenever we would have guests over at my parents’ house in Jaffa, immediately after introducing himself my father would announce, proudly, that the house we live in was the same one he was raised in.

In fact, he’d continue, this house was built by his great-grandfather. It is the house where his parents got married. Where his cousin was baptized. This is the room where he would sleep together with all seven of his siblings. The vine and lemon trees, still thriving in our garden, were planted by his mother’s hands.

Our family home is in Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood, where Palestinians who remained in the city after the Nakba — the catastrophe that upended the lives of all Palestinians in 1948 — were rounded up and placed under military rule during Israel’s early years. At the time, the new authorities, which closed off our neighborhood with metal fences, called it “the ghetto.”

In that cruel sense, my family was lucky. By turning Ajami into Jaffa’s ghetto, we got to keep our home.

That’s far from the story of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, whose homes and villages were depopulated, destroyed, or occupied by Jewish Israelis.

Some of them, as Nooran Hamdan writes, remain in exile in camps such as Jerash refugee camp in Jordan. Others, as Muhammad Kayal explains to Orly Noy, are internally displaced inside Israel. These refugees still long for return generations later, imagining a future like the one that Umar al-Ghubari lays out in a fictional story.

To shift back the focus on this central issue, we at +972 Magazine set out to explore what return means, 72 years since the Nakba.

The result is a three-part podcast series, which begins with the story of Tarek Bakri, a Palestinian engineer-turned-documentarian who, using old photos and oral history, helps Palestinians find their original homes and villages while chronicling the beautiful, painful, and inspiring encounters along the way.

We will be releasing a new episode every Friday over the next few weeks. If you haven’t yet subscribed to The +972 Podcast, you can do so here.