In mid-May, when Israeli Jews celebrate Independence Day, Palestinians commemorate the Nakba — the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of people from cities and villages across Palestine that began in December 1947 and intensified throughout 1948, both before and after the declaration of the State of Israel.
This process of removing Palestinians from their land continues in various forms to this very day.
Palestinian refugees as a whole have never been allowed to exercise their right to return to their homeland.
The Israeli group Zochrot aims “to promote the Jewish Israeli public’s responsibility for the ongoing Nakba and to exercise the Palestinian refugees’ right of return as its necessary historical redress.” Zochrot uses the May anniversary to show the connection between the “independence” of one group of people and the dispossession of another.
“Government authorities are stepping up the erasure process that has been happening since the Nakba,” Zochrot’s Niva Grunzweig told The Electronic Intifada. “They can see that people are asking questions and they are afraid of what might happen if the truth comes out.”
Zochrot’s Houses Beyond the Hyphen initiative takes up Jaffa, the historical Palestinian city currently obscured by the Tel Aviv-Yafo hyphen, as the site of a series of video installations in private homes and walking tours that uncover what has been happening there since 1948.
The coastal city, known as the Bride of the Sea, was once home to Palestine’s urban elite, and a cosmopolitan center of Arab culture. But after the fall of Jaffa in May 1948 following months of siege and bombardment, its character was drastically changed and its history systematically erased.
After a period of military occupation followed by decades of neglect, Jaffa is once again being reshaped by aggressive gentrification driving out many of its remaining Palestinian inhabitants.
Silvia Boarini is a photojournalist based in Bir al-Saba and is currently working on a documentary about Naqab Bedouins.