Several dozen Palestinian refugees, public figures and Israeli left-wing activists conducted a tour Sunday of the West Jerusalem neighborhoods of Talbieh and Baka to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nakba ("the Catastrophe"), as the Palestinians refer to the events surrounding Israel's independence in 1948.
The tour began in the homes next to the Jerusalem Theater in Talbieh, with the organizers showing photographs taken of those homes and their Palestinian inhabitants before the War of Independence. Palestinian refugees described their pre-war experiences and what happened to them during the war itself.
At 20 Hovevei Zion Street in Talbieh, those who joined the tour looked at the inscription "A.K. 1925," forged in iron on the front of the building.
"This is the home of my father's grandfather, Assad Hadad. My grandfather would bring us here and show us the trees he planted in the garden himself," one of the participants said, pointing to the two tall palm trees in the yard.
Masses of journalists documented the event, which was organized in part by Zochrot, an Israeli organization dedicated to raising awareness of the Nakba.
The tour was the private initiative of several Palestinian women, who said yesterday they decided to mark the Nakba in just one part of Jerusalem rather than in all parts of the city in which Palestinians lived prior to 1948.
"The Palestinian nation has not forgotten and will not forget," Abdel Kader Husseini, the scion of well-known Palestinian figures and one of the participants in the tour, told Haaretz. "As long as Israel looks eastward and establishes settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, we will look at West Jerusalem," said Husseini, who was named after his grandfather, a Palestinian leader who was killed in the 1948 battle over the Castel, and is the son of Faisal Husseini, a Palestine Liberation Organization leader in Jerusalem. "The question is whether Israel has the courage to reach an agreement that would divide Jerusalem and Palestine or whether we will go toward the unknown. We will not leave our land again."