Laura van Rij (LR): what is your connection to Lifta?
Salwa Naser (SN): I was not born in Lifta, my memories are what my mother and father used to tell me about their life there. Extended families lived in the same compound and looked after each other’s children. That is why people used to have more children than now. They had someone to take care of them. My mother had ten. They were living happily with all the neighbours. They told me they had a very nice house in Lifta, but I have never been there. I was brought up in East Jerusalem, I went to Schmidt´s College. When we looked over the wall there we would see the western part of Jerusalem. We would see the Jewish people there and we understood what happened to our land. I went to England to study.
LR: What kind of stories did your parents tell about their life in Lifta?
SN: They used to tell how life was a lot easier. Everyone knew everyone, and they would help each other. It was like one big family. The stories I heard were about how time changed people. In Lifta everyone was like one family, now everybody is living for themselves. Both parents work and they don´t have so many children anymore. In Lifta mother´s stayed at home. My mother was illiterate, but she was so clever that she managed to get all her ten children to be well educated. The people of Lifta are known for being well-educated.
LR: Did you ever go to Lifta?
SN: After all these years my mother and sisters went there, when I was in England. They went to their house in Romema, there were other people living there. They said: ´This is our house!` The people living there told them that it was theirs now. When I go to Jerusalem, I sometimes go to see Lifta. I don´t go down, I look down. I see it from above, and it is very beautiful. I never went down, because I didn't have the courage to go alone. I don´t know anyone there. Next time I hope to go down.
LR: Did your parents keep in contact with people from Lifta?
SN: I remember my father had a good Jewish friend from long before 1948. After the war he came from the western part of Jerusalem to the eastern part to look for my father. They stayed friends after 1948. That things have been divided like this, it is not easy… They divided the land like a piece of cake. I heard they want to start building in Lifta. It´s a pity to destroy the old houses, just to put high-rise buildings there.I hope that peace will prevail.
The interview is for the project "It's all about people - Narratives from Lifta" done by Laura van Rij as part of her M.A. in public history at The University of Amsterdam.
Interview location: Crown Plaza hotel, Amman, Jordan.
June 26, 2013