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  • Nakba Day attests to the power of our grandparents’ stories

    For young Palestinians, Nakba Day is dedicated to remembering the catastrophes that our grandparents went through. But with every passing year, we realize how much the day belongs to our catastrophes too. My maternal grandfather was born in 1929. Although Alzheimer’s disease eroded his memory during the later years of his life, he had a surprising knack for recalling his experiences growing up in Haifa under the British mandate of Palestine. He described the open plains he crossed with friends to swim at the beach; the diplomats and missionaries who traveled through Haifa’s German Colony; and the port and railway…

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  • Defusing incitement about Jerusalem

    Israeli leaders like to claim that Jerusalem has never been an Arab or Muslim capital, and vowing that it never will be. But are they guilty of performing linguistic gymnastics and a selective memory of Israel's legal commitments about the holy city? By Lorenzo Kamel At a Jerusalem Day ceremony on May 17, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Jerusalem has always been the capital “of the Jewish people alone, not of any other people,” adding that Israel “will fight incitement, which stems from denial of our attachment to Jerusalem and our heritage.” A decade earlier Ehud Olmert, Israel’s PM…

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  • The Beaten Path: An introduction, or how to ruin a good story (part 1)

    In a new series of adventures, travel writer Yuval Ben-Ami sets out to deconstruct the Holy Land's most famous and heavily trodden tourist attractions. To begin, he deconstructs the entire country. The Holy Land has no history. I mean it. It is a land without any history at all, insofar as "history" can be said to describe what is past. The wheels of history keep turning, of course, but the past, you will agree, is what most people mean by the word, especially when they travel. Rarely will someone roll into a town and say: "I'm here for the history.…

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  • The NYTimes has it wrong: Israel's roots are not liberal

    Perhaps the greatest myth about Israel is the one the New York Times subscribes to: that it started out as a 'liberal' country committed to 'human rights.' An examination of the early days demonstrates that the country led by Ben-Gurion and Mapai was no progressive picnic. Recently, the New York Times was bemoaning the declining state of democracy in Israel. My colleague Dahlia Scheindlin noted several errors in the facts cited by the paper. I was more struck by the concluding passage: "One of Israel’s greatest strengths is its origins as a democratic state committed to liberal values and human…

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  • Why is Acre afraid of old signs?

    An artist placed re-designed street signs, from the Turkish period, in Acre – and Israelis think this “undermines law and order.” Why? Artist Walid Qashash took a political stand (Hebrew): He designed street signs for the Old City of Acre, as they would look under the Turkish rulers, and hanged them near the normal street signs. Suddenly, after sixty and more years of repression, the street of Sahed Abboud reemerges; Suddenly, Genoa Square, a relic of the town’s crusader past, emerges again from the mists. Qashash has invoked the ghosts the Jews of Israel have been trying to banish, unsuccessfully,…

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