Lifta was one of many villages in Palestine that was left empty after the events of the Nakba in 1948. Currently held as one of twenty-five endangered world monuments according to “The World Monuments Fund”. The village, on a hill looking over Jerusalem, is one that is frozen in time. Homes have stayed as they were since 1948 while most other Palestinian villages had been demolished and rebuilt; leaving Lifta as a rare artifact of Palestinian history.
500 meters from home, unable to return: @BADIL_Center's 2013 video “Sons of Lifta” follows Palestinian refugees who can visit Lifta from nearby Jerusalem areas, but are still barred from living in their homes there. See Lifta: https://t.co/GZDznBGVwY#PalestineToday #Nakba72 pic.twitter.com/TXJQpedM39— VisualizingPalestine (@visualizingpal) May 14, 2020
Israel’s Plan for Lifta? - The ultimate goal, just like every other Palestinan territory, is to transform the land to a Jewish majority. Israel has already built a boutique hotel looking over the remains of the ethnically cleansed village. A symbolically tragic sight.
The symbolic nature of this whole ordeal is quite astonishing and a little on the nose. First we have a village that was ethnically cleansed in the 1948 Nakba and left abandoned for over 73 years. The roofs of long time homes have been destroyed due to the nature of how they were originally built, making them impossible to rebuild and requiring demolition. Then we have the establishment of the boutique hotel that is a place for relaxation and an oasis for colonial settlers with views of a once prosperous Palestinian village. The colonizers created a place where they can sip on a mimosa and “take in” the views of the place they have ripped from underneath the feet of the Palestinians. The equivalent to this would be the United States creating hotels and fun amusement parks along the Trail of Tears.
As of June 13th, Israel has already set fire to Lifta and is currently trying to distance themselves from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Their reasoning is clear as day, UNESCO recognizes Lifta and some other Palestinian sites as World Heritage sites. Along with the hotel, Israel plans on building around 268 luxury homes for settlers. Families from Lifta still have the keys to their homes and the fight is nowhere near over.
Silwan is a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem that is currently in the process of being ethnically cleansed by the Israeli government. Silwan is majority Palestinian; since 1967 Israel has been trying to evict those families and convert the area into a Jewish majority. They have repeatedly failed their colonizing efforts and are starting to take a more aggressive approach to take over the area. In June of 2020, The “Israeli Occupation Authorities” ordered residents of the al-Bustan area to demolish their own homes within 21 days or pay the municipality for demolition fees (~$28,000).
A tragic story, to say the least. Homes built by grandfathers and torn apart by their grandchildren. In the “Ain al-Louza” neighborhood located in Silwan a resident was forced into this decision this past March. His name is Ahmed Hegazy and he unfortunately was not able to win the battle.
Can you imagine getting a court order to destroy your own home? This is what happened to Ahmed Hegazy from Ayn al louza in Silwan this past March. This is what an Israeli court ordered for 1500 Palestinian families from Silwan on Tuesday. This is what Shaykh Jarrah faces. https://t.co/RlBdTFJDfT— N.A. Mansour (@NAMansour26) June 10, 2021
Israel's plan for Silwan? - To build a “biblical park” and to transform “the Old City Basin from what it is today – a dense Palestinian urban area, which is also the place of some of the most holy sites to the three Abrahamic religions – to one where Jewish nationalistic and religious identity is dominant above all,” Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher from the Israeli Ir Amim NGO wrote in The Jerusalem Post. Silwan along with Lifta, Sheikh Jarrah, Hebron, Jaffa, and the remaining neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, are at high risk and require the world's full undivided attention.
So Now What?
What Israel is doing is a clear violation of International Law but that is where problems arise with colonization. White nations will always support the creation of another white nation, no matter the expense. The countries with the most influence in the worlds’ courts are countries that have benefited from colonization themselves and currently benefit from using brute force and unnecessary violence in places with morale. The hardest truth to grasp; Palestinian refugees living in western countries pay to continue being refugees. It may seem like there is no winning for Indigenous peoples worldwide with western countries continually breaking International law and never being held accountable. It is difficult, money runs the world and so this fight will take so many and will be draining. But life is meant to be enjoyed, so we fight and we break down the barriers and we do not stop until we win every battle and war.
With the amount of media coverage and social media, the tides are turning and Israeli propaganda is no longer sticking. This is the year to make the jump and take more action than ever before. Reach out to your representatives, go to/create your own protests and marches. Sometimes it may feel frivolous but tides start as small waves, so make the jump.
About the Author - Majd Nuwarah is a Palestinian-American Actor, Writer, and Knafeh connoisseur. At just 18 years old, Majd has traveled to many different countries where he has been able to experience all kinds of cultures and people, which in turn helped inspire his love for writing and acting. You can follow Majd on Instagram.