Saturday, March 22, 2014

Set Off a Dispossession

What sets off a dispossession?

In a piece at the NYTimes, I found something to comment on - and did:

This description of the event - "dispossessed following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that was set off by the creation of Israel" - is a bit shallow.  Israel's "creation", an act set in motion by the League of Nations in 1922, based on the San Remo Conference of 1920, based on the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and all based on the "historic connection" of the Jewish People with the Land of Israel, and confirmed by the United Nations in 1947, did not "set off" any dispossession but rather set off Arabs to attempt to eradicate the to-be-created state of Israel already on November 30, 1947, a half year prior to the state's declaration of establishment and dispossess the Jews resding in the territory of the Palestine Mandate that was originally to become the Jewish National Home.  The people who became "refugees", too many of them, had been attempting to ethnically cleanse Jews since 1920 from their homes where they had been living for centuries.  Some of them even killed Jews - in Hebron, Safad, Gaza, Nablus, Jerusalem and other places.  They were part of tghe pogrom gangs and brigand gangs of 1936-39.  Arabs violently opposed Zionism and that's what set off the hostilities that led to many Arabs becoming refugees as well as Jews beoming refugees, and we should mention to hundreds of thousands of Jews who became refugees in Arab countries across the Middle east even when they had nothing to do with the events of 1947-48.

The author is Lipika Pelham who moved to Jerusalem in August 2005 with her family.  She reported for the BBC from Jerusalem, but then became an award-winning documentary filmmaker. She published a memoir 

from which we learn that she from

a Hindu-Muslim background; her husband was a Jew with a passion and vision for Arab-Jewish co-existence in the Middle East.
For a while they lived in relative harmony. They both pursued careers as journalists; they went travelling, had children. But then her husband decided he wanted to go and work in Jerusalem for a conflict resolution think tank. Lipika was catapulted into a world where freedom from cultural identity and tribal allegiance is unheard of. From the school you choose to the wine you buy, you are taking sides at every turn. As the days went by, she and her husband powerlessly witnessed the Middle East conflict spill over and immerse their little family in a recurrent sense of displacement and disconnection in a segregated city.
This is an honest book about how two cross-cultural people who are passionately in love arrive on the brink of a breakdown. But it is also a portrait of one of the most emotive cities in the world. By allowing the reader to accompany her as she tries to make sense of the city she has moved to, Pelham gives a brilliantly compelling and subtle insight into the complexities of daily life in Jerusalem. Her three-year-old daughter becomes a flag-waving “Israeli” despite going to the Peace School with its 50/50 quota of Arab and Jewish children, while her son rebels against his father’s desire for him to have barmitzvah. Pelham makes friends with Zionists and Palestinians, she chooses an Orthodox Jewish doctor to deliver her baby and a Palestinian cameraman to help her make documentary films. She delights in the Arab culinary traditions that inform Jewish food. Meanwhile, there is the pain of division everywhere and no place for her to call home.



It's up.


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