Going Home: A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation by Raja Shehadeh

Going Home: A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation by Raja Shehadeh

Author:Raja Shehadeh [Shehadeh, Raja]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: History, Israel & Palestine, Political Freedom, Political Science, Middle Eastern, Middle East, World
ISBN: 9781620975770
Google: OdCkDwAAQBAJ
Amazon: 1620975777
Publisher: The New Press
Published: 2020-03-10T00:00:00+00:00


I needed an espresso. I walked uphill from our old house, turned right on to Ahlia Street, named after the Ahlia School which I attended for a few weeks as a child, and climbed to the fifth floor of the building opposite the old school gate to Capers Restaurant, owned by Ramzi and Nahida Jaber’s sons. On the terrace an olive tree was planted in a large pot that could be rolled in and out for the summer and winter seating. From there I had a panoramic view of this part of Ramallah, of our old hara and beyond to the Mediterranean coast, with Tel Aviv’s high-rises lining the horizon. At one time it was possible to enjoy this view from the ground. Not any more. Now the ground has to be suggested by placing an olive tree in a large pot on the fifth floor; only then can one see it.

Ramzi Jaber was a rich, down-to-earth romantic. He loved birds and kept a thriving aviary until fear of bird flu made him dispose of all of them to protect his family. It was a sad day for him but he felt he owed it to his children and grandchildren. Before he died he tried to purchase all the empty plots and houses in his hara to preserve it as he knew it. His success was only partial. He purchased the house where the Harbs used to live, with its long front balcony. Had he not bought it, it would certainly have been sold to others and repurposed. The previous owners, the Totah family, had emigrated to the US, all except two of the sons. Their father was a brilliant electrician who was renowned for working extremely fast. After my father helped him with a legal dispute and refused to charge him, we returned home one afternoon to find that he had replaced all our electric switches with new fluorescent ones. Next to the Harbs’ house, the one where the Bahu family lived was still standing. The father had owned the sky-blue Buick. For years after his death it remained parked in the driveway. Only one of the sons has remained in Ramallah; the others are in the US. Even Najla Al Bansa is no longer there. The building I was now in had been erected on the land where her shack once stood.

The only house Ramzi could not buy was the one across the street from our old house, where we moved two years prior to the start of the occupation. It was there that my father drafted the first proposal for a Palestinian state to be established in the 1967 occupied territories and submitted it to the Israeli government. The house where this historic event took place was demolished soon after the Oslo Accords came into force. A telling coincidence.

Many people from Ramallah who emigrated to the US return only to sell their land. And when they sell, they do little to contribute to the city’s development. They do not pay capital gains or capital transfer taxes to the Palestinian Authority.


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