Friday, May 13, 2016

Three Comments on a Jaffa Barbar

Three comments on this story of a Jaffa barber leaving his town in 1948 and his son's reflections in Ramallah.

The father was 

A wealthy barber who also rented out four Morris Eights from his shop on Jaffa’s King George Street, Habib Hinn took one of his cars, 3,000 Palestinian pounds in cash, and the tools of his trade and drove to Ramallah, believing he would return, perhaps within a week, when the violence had died down.

Have you any idea how much 3000 Palestinian pounds were worth in 1948?  

Over 105,000 pounds sterling.

He was so wealthy that that was basically what he was thinking of, his personal wealth and not a nationalist struggle of his people.

And do you know how many of thousands of Jews were forced to flee Jaffa over the years of Arab terror and how many had to abandon homes on the border neighborhoods between December 1947 and April 1948 following the outbreak of hostilities by Arabs who refused a diplomatic solution of partition?

I hope the implication in this next excerpt is not that the police were a cause in his subsequent demise.

“My father talked only very rarely about the shop in Jaffa. And then one day – in 1987 – he said: ‘Let’s go and see the shop.’ We drove in the Fiat we had then.”It had transformed into an antiques shop. They stopped to look on the other side of the street but did not make it across, they say, before the Israeli police appeared and told them not to go into the shop.“I suppose one of his old [Jewish] neighbours recognised him and called the police. For him it was the end.” Within a month his father died.

If the year was 1987, a car with Ramallah license plates, while not totally unusual, would have drawn the attention of law officers.  But they could have escorted him in to see the place.  That would have been proper.  It happened to other former Arab residents there in Jaffa and in Jerusalem.

But here comes the key, literally:

And then – this year – Iskander found his father’s key. Many Palestinians keep the keys to their old family homes as a poignant symbol of what they lost as Israel was born and the demand for the right of return.
Iskander’s father, however, had hidden his for reasons his son believes he understands.
“I was clearing out the furniture in his old bedroom. He had hidden it in the bottom of his closet. He had hidden it because he loved us. He didn’t want us to feel the loss he had hidden all those years.
“And because he was wise. I think he must have known that if I had seen it and heard about it when I was young, I might have ended up in jail.”
He studies the key in his hand. “It is a message, delivered at an age when we could understand it. It says that sometime in the future I can return. It will open the door. I will pass through. And no one can stop me.”

If your intentions are peaceful, you can come visit today.  But if you think no one can stop some "right of return" exercise, you're wrong.

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