During the war that lead to the formation of the State of Israel in 1948 much of the Palestinians population were forced to flee the homes they had lived in for centuries. More than half of the villages of historical Palestine have been razed, their inhabitants moved to shelter villages within Israel, or made refugees outside of Israel. Many of the former resident’s, and family of former resident’s from the village of Kafr Bir’im were moved to a sparsely populated village called Jish some 10 kilometers from their original home. The former village is now the site of the Bar’am‘ Synagogue Nation Park under the management of the National Parks Authority of Israel.
Legal attempts to secure a right of return to the villages featured in the ‘Stories in Stone’ project Kafr Bir’im, Iqrit, and El–Ghabsiya have been unsuccessful. The fight continues. In the meantime the former Palestinian residents of Kafr Bir’im return to the Bar ‘am Synagogue Nation Park for picnic’s and to remember those who lived on this elevated site dotted with almond, fig and olive trees.
According to Jamil Arafat and Daoud Badr the Palestinian story of village, tribe, and clan has been written out of history. The project ‘Voices from the landscape’ is an attempt to give a voice to this history.
Jamil Arafat is a writer and local historian who lives in a Palestinian village on the outskirts of Nazareth in Israel. Using a combination of oral histories and Hebrew and Arabic sources he compiles encyclopedic entries on the destroyed villages of former Palestine.
Daoud Badr is co-coordinator of the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced Persons in Israel.
D Badr in conversation by Ellen.Thornton