Jaffa’s Palestinian heritage celebrated in Nakba Day open houses

A poster for Zochrot’s “Empty Facade - On Erasure and Reconstruction” 15 May tour of Jaffa. (Zochrot)

The city of Jaffa’s Palestinian past will take center stage this Nakba Day, 15 May, with a series of events designed to bring history to life.

Zochrot, an Israeli organization dedicated to unearthing the country’s Palestinian history, is hosting exhibitions, a symposium and a series of alternative tours under the headline of “Homes Beyond the Hyphen.”

The name refers to the hyphenated city of “Tel Aviv-Jaffa,” in which the newer Tel Aviv, established by Zionist settlers early in the 20th century, has dwarfed its ancient Palestinian neighbor. Many of the inhabitants of Jaffa were forced out by Zionist attacks in 1948, large numbers of them ending up as refugees in Gaza.

The centerpiece of the weekend is a series of exhibitions intended, according to Zochrot, to “raise public awareness of [Jaffa’s] silenced memory and history, its destruction and erasure.”

Subverting “open doors” model

As well as being the 67th anniversary of the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes to make way for the new State of Israel, the weekend of 15 May also sees Tel Aviv Municipality’s Houses from Within weekend.

One of many “open doors” festivals around the world, in which normally private houses are opened to the public, “Houses from Within” celebrates Tel Aviv’s architectural heritage.

But Zochrot intends to subvert this model by focusing on houses which “were owned by Palestinians until 1948 … Today they are home to Israeli Jews.” The houses will host exhibitions telling their Palestinian stories so that the “omnipresent houses, ruins and structural elements we have become used to ignore [are given] a different life and a different meaning.”

As well as the open houses exhibitions, “Homes Beyond the Hyphen will also feature several tours of Jaffa, including one of the Manshiye neigborhood. In recent years, Jaffa has seen conflict between Palestinian residents and Israeli developers seeking to gentrify its picturesque and historic streets, pushing out its Palestinian residents in the process.

More details of the events can be found on the Zochrot website and Facebook page.


Sarah Irving

Sarah Irving's picture

Sarah is a freelance writer and editor, author of a biography of Leila Khaled and of the Bradt Guide to Palestine, co-editor of A Bird is Not a Stone (a volume of Palestinian poetry translated into the languages of Scotland), and a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked and traveled in Palestine since 2001.