In this unit, we suggest accompanying a Palestinian refugee on a field trip, during which we’ll hear the story of the Palestinian locality in which the refugee’s family once lived. After the field trip, we suggest ways to address the facts we learned, and the emotions the trip aroused.
1. To become familiar with Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948.
2. To conceptualize what the students experienced during the field trip, in emotional, as well as in rational terms.
Keywords: Place, Histories
1. Field trip:
A field trip guided by a Palestinian refugee: Such a field trip is extremely valuable (cf. the Theoretical Background and the Pedagogical Rationale), and is highly recommended. Zochrot will help you to arrange the field trip. Possible locations for field trips include Bir Saba' (Beersheba), Yaffa (Yafo/Jaffa), Al-Quds (Jerusalem - which today encompasses the locations of the villages of Dayr Yasin, Lifta and Maliha, and others), or in the village of Miska (today adjoining Kfar Saba, Hittin (near Tiberias), AlLajun (today, Kibbutz Meggido), and, in fact, anywhere else in the country.
A field trip guided by a map – for example, a field trip of the Palestinian villages that were located in the area included today within the borders of Tel Aviv, using the map of “Tel Aviv and its Palestinian villages” (cf. Supplementary Material 2). The map allows the users to situate themselves in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area while undertaking an historical investigation, because it locates the remains of the villages left after 1948 on the map of Tel Aviv as it appears today. It also provides information about each village. A field trip could be held to one or two of the villages, during which students would identify what is left of them, and recount their past using the information printed on the map.
2. Classroom activity based on the field trip. We recommend choosing one of the following alternatives:
-- A “souvenir” of the field trip:
At the beginning of the field trip, tell the students that during the trip they should choose something significant for them (something beautiful, or annoying, or exciting, etc.). Before the field trip ends, they should write down their choice and then bring it to class. During the class discussion, students will describe their selections, and explain why did they choose them. Encourage other students to respond to what they’re hearing, through their own associations, objections, or questions during the discussion.
-- Photographic exhibit:
Bring at least one camera on the field trip (we recommend bringing several), and tell the students to take pictures of things they find significant. You can also bring an erasable board on which is written: “Name: _____________; Hour: __________”. Each student will enter the information on the board before they take the picture, will be photographed holding the sign, and then take the photograph or photographs of whatever they chose. In that way, there will be a record of who took the picture and when, followed by the pictures that the student took. The photos can be printed and displayed in the classroom, or shown as a computerized slide-show. Each student will describe their photos to the class and explain why they took them. This will be a way for the class to process the experience of the field trip chronologically (using the times written on the signs), as well as factually and emotionally.
-- “What we did on the field trip”
Prepare circles of paper or poster board, and write on each a heading referring to different parts of the field trip (for example, “The bus ride”, “Meeting the refugee who guided us”, “Walking from the bus to the remains of the village”, things that happened during the field trip, social activities, etc.). Distribute the circles around the classroom, and have each student choose one. Have the students post the circles they chose on the board in the order of the events they refer to, and have them tell about that part of the trip. Encourage the students who are listening to supplement the description of each circle – adding their opinion about the event, a different perspective on it, etc.
Supplementary Materials Index
Supplementary Material l: Readings – Poems
Suggestions for readings during the field trip:
Poem: Between you and me/ Marzuq Halabi
Poem: Geology/ Yanay Israeli
Supplementary Material 2: Map
A map of Tel Aviv showing its Palestinian villages
[In the accompanying envelope]
Additional maps are available from Zochrot:
The students’ school years are filled with field trips and hikes throughout the country. Most are devoted to learning about the history of the Jews in ancient times, or studying the recent history of Israel. Although some of the field trips are held on the lands of Palestinian villages, Palestinian history isn’t included, so that in many cases the location’s Palestinian history remains invisible.
Many of the Palestinian refugees who are permitted to enter Israel, or those who are Israeli citizens, often visit the villages from which they were expelled, and to which they were forbidden to return. This began as a local custom by villagers from a particular location. They usually recount the story of the Nakba to the younger generation – describing what life was like before the Nakba, and what happened during the Nakba. During the visit, they locate the remains of their village, use them to reconstruct the village in their memory, and often pick and eat the fruit growing on the plants characteristic of the village. In recent years, these visits have been expanded, and now involve public activities by Palestinians in Israel such as “return processions”, or mass annual processions to one of the destroyed Palestinian villages. From 2002, Zochrot has been organizing field trips to Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948, to raise the consciousness of the Israeli public about the Nakba in general, and about the Palestinian villages in particular. The field trips, to which both Jewish-Israelis and Palestinians participate, include hearing Palestinians talk about life prior to 1948, and about the Nakba. During the field trip, signs are erected identifying the village and the location of its principal buildings and sites, in both Hebrew and Arabic.
The refugees who guide these field trips are, for the most part, internal refugees, Palestinians expelled from their lands during the 1948 war, who were not permitted to return to their homes. They lost their property in 1948, but remained within the borders of Israel and became Israeli citizens. Most of the guides, who come from the locations being visited on the field trip, are members of the first generation, who themselves experienced the Nakba, but there are also sometimes members of the second, or third generations who have learned the history of the village from the tales of their elders.
The Palestinian guide will usually recount his own, personal Nakba, that of his family and of Palestinian society in general, telling about the experience of becoming a refugee, and of loss. The field trip shifts our point of view away from the landscape we’re used to seeing, exposes the students to the lives of Palestinians, and it presentifies them. In this way, the field trip broadens the students’ knowledge of the location, its multiple meanings, and it invites them to reconsider their usual view of the landscape.
The field trip presents the particular story recounted by a specific Palestinian, a tale of where he lived, and of those who were close to him. This creates a complex picture of the Nakba, focusing on the uniqueness of the specific location, and of those who lived there. The information presented on the field trip is one referring to the Palestinians: to the village or town that was destroyed, to the lives lived there and how they were erased, but also one referring to our contemporary reality. The setting of the field trip and the voices we hear are Palestinian, while the listeners are the Israeli participants. The field trip exposes Israelis to the past, to Palestinian identity and culture. Moreover, the assignment of roles during the field trip creates a different set of relationships between Palestinians and Israelis than the one usually existing in Israeli society.
The field trip raises questions about Israeli identity and the connection of the Israeli participants to the particular location, challenging thus Israel’s hegemonic presence in the landscape. The village field trips create a new language for Israelis, through which they are able to speak the Palestinian Nakba. But the field trips also create a new language shared by both the Palestinian refugees presenting their personal, familial, and national account, and by the Israeli participants. We see the Palestinians addressing us, demanding that we see them, and treat them as equals – that we view the present and the future in the context of the past.
The students’ field trip to the destroyed Palestinian village is led by a refugee from that particular village. The field trip provides the students with two main encounters: the first is with the Palestinian refugee guiding the field trip, and the second is with the familiar landscape. The encounter with the Palestinian is an unmediated contact with the other who presents a story, one that is usually unfamiliar, of personal experience, of person-to-person. During this encounter, we become familiar not only with a particular story, as we did in earlier Units, but also with a person who went through the Nakba. Israeli students usually view their surroundings through the story of the Jewish people and the Zionist ethos. Encountering their surroundings through Palestinian eyes allows students to see them differently, to reconsider what has seemed self-evident, and to question it.
The role of the teacher during and after the field trip is to make connections among what the students experienced during the field trip, what they learned in class, and their encounter with the Palestinian refugee. Another important role is to help the students deal with the feelings and thoughts they had following the field trip. You can use readings related to the field trip itself to encourage discussions and understanding of additional aspects of the experience (cf. Supplementary Material 1). The second activity in this Unit is a lesson in which the students process the field trip. The suggestions for this component refer to its emotional dimension, using the student’s choice of a significant item or moment from the field trip, as well as to its factual dimension, by recapitulating it. In our view, processing is an integral part of the field trip, and it is important to allow enough time for it. Processing the experience and the new information will give the students the opportunity to reflect on the effects the field trip has had on them, and to examine their feelings about it.
1. Halabi, M. (2008), “Between you and me”, Sedek-A Journal on the Ongoing Nakba, No. 3, Tel Aviv: Pardes, Parhessia and Zochrot.
2 Israeli, Y. (2007), “Death of the pear orchard”, Tel Aviv. HaKibbutz HaMeuhad Publishers.
3 Ben Ze’ev, E. (2004), “The politics of taste and smell – Palestinian rites of return,” In: Lien M.E. & Nerlich B. (eds.), The Politics of Food, NYC: Berg.
4 Bronstein, E. (2005), “The Nakba in Hebrew: Israeli-Jewish awareness of the Palestinian catastrophe and internal refugees”, in: Masalha, N. (ed.), Catastrophe Remembered, London and New York: Zed Books