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In the lead up to Pride 2012 and the decision by Toronto-based activist group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to return to this year’s parade, I am re-posting the following article that I put together back in April, 2011, before I started this blog. (This article originally appeared at Bilerico. Here I have updated the links, improved the formatting slightly and made a few edits for clarity regarding the timeline of events.) I’ll be returning to this issue over the next week or so.
On a humanitarian delegation tour of historic Palestine in the summer of 2005 I had the opportunity to visit the remains of Lifta— a Palestinian village on the outskirts of West Jerusalem whose inhabitants were driven out in 1948 by Israel’s proto-military forces. Our delegation was guided by Yacoub Odeh who was born in Lifta and whose family was forced to flee when he was still a young child. Like some 750,000 other Palestinians, Yacoub’s family was not allowed to return to their homes once hostilities ended, despite UN Resolution 194 that demands precisely that.
It was touching to observe Yacoub walking among the ruins of his childhood home; he showed us the house where his family had lived, the mosque where they prayed, the bakery where bread was made, places where he used to play with his friends. At one point he showed us a house in which there remained beautiful ceramic tiles along the floor, still mostly intact, although many had been taken by scavengers. He told us that through the years he had resisted the temptation to take one for himself; still holding on to hope that some day he would be permitted to return to his village he had not allowed himself a keepsake.