For millions of Palestinians, exercising the right to return home to the villages from which they, their parents or grandparents were ethnically cleansed during the Nakba to make way for Israel, remains an aspiration.
… our springs, our trees and our stones
The people of the village of Lifta, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, are affirming that right by returning home regularly, even though they cannot yet move back permanently.
Sons of Lifta, a moving short film, was shot on Land Day, when many of Lifta’s people tended the village cemetery.
Yacoub Odeh, a Liftawi, and one of the leaders of the campaign to save the village, explains in the video the significance of this act:
We are here today to clean the cemetery. We must clean it well, so that the graves are visible. Why? So that people can see that this is not abandoned land. No! Anybody who wants to buy or make plans [for our land] must know that these are our graves, our houses, our olive presses, our springs, our trees and our stones.
The Palestinian refugee rights organization, BADIL, which produced the film, says:
Sons of Lifta follows refugees from the village as they return to Lifta on Land Day 2013, more than 65 years after their original forced displacement. Through the eyes and actions of Lifta’s new generations, following in the footsteps of their ancestors, it becomes clear that the Zionist belief that ‘the old will die out and the young will forget’ never accounted for the strength of Palestinian sumoud (steadfastness) or the deep-rooted connection to home.
Lifta under new Israeli threat
Lifta, one of the few ethnically cleansed villages to remain largely intact, is now under threat from Israel plans to turn it into a luxury Jewish colony. Villagers and their supporters have challenged the plan in Israeli courts and have won a temporary reprieve. There are also calls for international protection for Lifta’s unique cultural heritage.
Lifta is my mother’s birthplace, so this video had special significance for me as I watched it with her and she shared her memories of childhood. But any displaced Palestinian can identify with the experience and narrative of Lifta.
Sons of Lifta was produced by BADIL’s Ongoing Nakba Education Center which uses multi-media advocacy tools to document Palestine’s Ongoing Nakba. You can see more films, photo-stories and audio pieces at the project website.