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To Whom Does Haifa Belong?

In an article entitled "To Whom Does Haifa Belong?" in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, columnist Kheiri Mansur repeats Palestinian accusations that Israel forges history and archeology to falsely establish the Jewish right to Israel. But this article expands these accusations to include Haifa, which is part of pre-1967 Israel.

"The latest historical forgery committed in the Hebrew state is a new book called 'Our Haifa,' published by the municipality of Haifa for the Jewish students in the city, (while) Haifa is one of the most predominantly Palestinian cities, and is still inhabited by its (Arab) citizens. Despite their widespread expulsion, the number of Arabs (in Haifa) has increased and they have adhered to their national identity and language throughout half a century of occupation..."

"Once again, the authors of the book stole Haifa (from the Arabs) educationally and tried to record their (alleged) historical ownership of the city. (But) even among the Jews themselves it is no longer possible to sell the legend of 'a land without people (for a people with out a land)' as the (increasing) Arab population (in Israel) is becoming a time bomb..."

"The question we ask after more than 50 years of occupation in Palestine is this: to whom do Haifa and her sister cities belong? What determines this ownership - the weapon and the military reality, or the memory, the national conscious and the dream.?"

"We know that the homeland is not only a memory but also a future... If it were just a memory it would have elapsed with its generation. But reality reveals an opposite picture. The Palestinian child who was born in exile and whose parents were born in exile...still says he was born in the village or town from which his grandfather was banished..."

"Jewish authors and poets wrote about Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and even Jerusalem, but it was all ideological imagination - no more, no less. Analogies (made) between Arab texts and Hebrew texts about Palestine reveal that the Hebrew ones are filled with forgeries and phoney anticipation... (whereas) the people who lived for centuries on their own soil and under their own skies (i.e. the Arabs) were necessarily created with the components of the venue. Their breath was mingled with their ancestors' sign and each relic brings back the echo of the past..."

"This book is not the first (of its type) and of course will not be the last... for the battle (has just) begun, although some think it ended. More than a million of the 1948 Palestinians announced their Palestinian and Arab identity in front of the (Israeli) military regime."

"Writing or inventing these books has to do with only one dimension of deleting history. But there is a guard in the watch tower of Palestinian memory."

"The demolition and renaming of 400 (Arab) villages did not delete them from history. On the contrary, the inhabitants came back in their dreams to reconstruct them. The memory of the fathers and the grandfathers supply them with the magic keys for the rusted keyholes." "Taking all this into account, the question is: how are we to believe that the 'Israeli's intentions for peace and co-existence are serious, when Israel keeps digging under school benches and under the cultic and antique sites...?"

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization providing translations of the Arab media and original analysis and research on developments in the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.


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