“The beautiful life that I dream … and struggle to restore this beautiful life, to go back home. To go back home. To plan our village, to renovate our houses, and to live … like everyone [else] under the sun,” he says.
On episode 41, we speak to Odeh about Lifta and his community’s 73-year struggle to return to their homes.
We are also joined by Umar al-Ghubari of Zochrot, an organization promoting acknowledgment and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba.
Al-Ghubari and Odeh both lead political tours inside Lifta, where Odeh and other refugees from Lifta are forbidden to return to live under Israel’s racist laws.
The Israel Land Authority, a government agency which functions to push Palestinians off their land and lease it to Jewish Israelis, recently announced that it would open bids from real estate development companies to build settlement colonies and boutique hotels on the ruins of Lifta.
Palestinians have urged UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural body, to intervene.
Lifta is one example of hundreds of Palestinian cities, towns and villages that were ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias in the late 1940s, al-Ghubari notes.
The Nakba, he explains, was Israel’s “systematic policy of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from everywhere in order to achieve the goal of the creation of a Jewish state.”
This is not the first time Israel has attempted to demolish the village.
As architect Antoine Raffoul wrote ten years ago for The Electronic Intifada, since its depopulation in 1948-49, Lifta has been kept deserted by the Israeli authorities and has long faced demolition by speculative developers.
As a last act of architectural violation, Raffoul writes, Israeli settlers have destroyed the elegant domed roofs in an attempt to prevent a return by Lifta’s legitimate owners.
“They want to change our beautiful village [into] a colony,” Odeh says. “At no time will we keep silent. We will resist. We will struggle, we will go to the court as we did in the beginning.”
Articles we discussed
- “Always on my mind,” Anne Paq
- “No abandoned land: Palestinians tend ancestors’ graves in village ethnically cleansed in 1948,” Ali Abunimah
Video production by Tamara Nassar
Theme music by Sharif Zakout
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