Jonathan Cook: the View from Nazareth -

Two visits to Lifta

As far as I know, the Palestinian village of Lifta is unique. Or rather, it is unique for the time being. Lifta is one of the more than 400 Palestinian villages cleansed of its population during the 1948 war. It is on the outskirts of West Jerusalem, only a short distance from Deir Yassin, where infamously a massacre of men, women and children at the hands of Jewish militiamen took place in April 1948, just before the establishment of Israel. But unlike the other villages, much of Lifta still stands, many of its buildings untouched except by the ravages of time…

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A few of the expelled families, those living in East Jerusalem, even have the right to visit it – if they are prepared to brave a potentially hostile reception from Israeli Jews who use its paths as nature trails or immerse themselves in the village pond, which has been converted into a mikveh (ritual religious bath).

But Lifta – and its unique record of Palestinian life before the creation of Israel – could disappear. Jerusalem municipality wants to build a new Jews-only suburb of the city over the site, including a shopping mall. Some of the old buildings would be modernised and “absorbed” into the new community. In February 2005, a small leftwing Jewish group called Zochrot (Remembering) took a few Palestinian villagers and dozens of Jewish activists to the site to protest against the plans.

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