The documentation files are based on genealogical historical research conducted by Zochrot over the past three years on houses in Yaffa (Jaffa) and al-Quds (Jerusalem) from which Palestinians were expelled in 1948. These houses were the focus of a series of events held by Zochrot since 2015 in commemoration of Nakba Day. Held over one weekend, these events include tours and artistic interventions in neighborhoods and private houses (see here and here for additional details of the events in Jaffa, and here for details on the event in Jerusalem).
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from Palestine in 1948. Overnight, as many Palestinians as possible lost their sense of home. This included people whose lives were interlaced with the history of the house, people who inhabited it, who spent their lives in it, planned or wrote about it. Immediately and arbitrarily, the Zionist sovereign turned these houses into “abandoned property” – an impersonal term that enabled cutting off the direct link between the Palestinians and their expropriated homes and properties, to which they were never allowed to return and for which they were never compensated. This term was mainly designed to convey the idea as though the Palestinians had abandoned their property of their own free will, rather than as the outcome of a deliberate and ongoing policy of violence.
Against the attempts to control space, time and even memory, against the view that considers the current political situation an established fact, our historical research sought to shed light on the untold urban history, and thereby expose the “ghost” of the place, that which invoked by history, which lies in every stone, immanent in every street corner.
When seeking to tell the story of the Palestinians erased from the urban narrative, we stumbled across multiple difficulties. Upon their expulsion, most documents describing their properties and lives have also disappeared, and the landscape reveals precious little about their venerable existence. This archive is the product of Zochrot’s ongoing research of the erased Palestinian urban space. It is also an invitation to send us any information you may have on other Palestinian urban houses. For further details about the project, please conduct Zochrot’s gallery curator Debby Farber at email@example.com.