It seems appropriate and timely to post this authentic
personal memoir of Palestine, written by an actual Palestinian, in order to shed
light on the background and reasons for the Palestine Nakba of 1948. Colonia
and Castel were two villages that stood on the road to
Jerusalem, forming a base for raids into neighboring Jewish villages like Motza and for
blocking the road to Jerusalem,
Bab El Wad. The
UN Partition Plan for
Palestine, General Assembly Resolution 181 could succeed only if there was
good will and good faith on both sides, since Arab villages and towns were
interespersed with Jewish ones on both sides of the lines drawn by the UN.
However, the Arabs of Palestine quickly organized blockades of virtually every
road in Palestine. This meant that it would be impossible for the Jewish State
or any of its inhabitants to survive as long as the Arab villagers and the Arab
irregular troops dominated the roads. Initially with the complicity of the
imperialist British Mandatory government, and later with the help of the British
officered Jordan Legion, Jerusalem was under a real siege, in which no medicine,
no food and no fuel were allowed into the city, unlike the fake "siege" of Gaza
touted by rights groups today.
Sari Nusseibeh, the Palestinian moderate, recounted in his
book, Once Upon a Country, how his father and Abdul Qader Husseini, nephew
of the Nazi
Hajj Amin Al Husseini
tried to get weapons to fight at Qastel. They were not fighting to save
the village of Qastel, long since abandoned by its inhabitants and displaced by
Arab irregular forces, including ex Bosnian SS. They were fighting to starve out
100,000 Jews who lived in Jerusalem and environs.
The 1948 war was preceded by decades of Arab violence and bad faith,
such as the incident related below, from the period of the
riots and massacres of
1929. Except in the philosophic sense, there is no "cycle of violence"
or "revenge" involved in this story.
all descendants of the Sheikh-Moukhtar of Colonia, the former Arab village near
Jerusalem Salam Aleicum Va' Rkhamat Allah.
I apologize for not sending you this letter to your address
because of two simple reasons: One, I do not have your family name. Two, I do
not have your addresses. Yet, I have decided to write this letter and place it
on the Internet hoping that one of you or your friends will come upon it and
will deliver it to you.
The urge to sit down at my desk, open my laptop
and write this letter came to me during my evening walk, which as usual is up
the western slope of Mount Herzl. During most evenings one can enjoy in these
hours the beautiful sunset over the mountains of Jerusalem and the typical
breeze, which adds to the charm of this special city. Reaching the top I sat to
rest and looking to the west I could see the village of Motza. This reminded me
that I forgot, last month to observe my second birthday. You may wonder what do
I mean by my second birthday? Well, I was born twice in Jerusalem. The first
time I was born on July 13, 1928 and the second time I was born again, with all
my closest family, namely parents and elder brother, about a year later, on 24
when I saved the lives of my entire family by getting the mumps. I got it just
two days before my family was scheduled to travel and spend a long weekend at
the home of my parents' friends, the family of the Makleffs, at the village of
Motza in the close vicinity of Jerusalem. Just then the enigmatic virus causing
Parotitis epidemica decided it is time for the general attack. My mumps
cancelled this vacation. We were invited by Mrs.Batia Chaya Makleff, Let Her
Soul Rest in Peace, who was a friend of my mother's family, to come for a
weekend to their place on the outskirts of the village, surrounded by a
beautiful orchard. When my mother expressed her anxiety because of the rumors of
riots by the Arabs of the neighboring Arab village of Colonia, Mrs. Makleff
calmed her anxiety by saying: "They are our brothers, they come to me whenever
they need any advice or need an injection. They call me their sister." As my
parents and the Makleffs were observant Jews, the voyage was planned for Friday.
I got the mumps on Thursday so we stayed at home.
On Friday the
Hajj Amin Al Husseini
preached in the grand mosque of Haram al Sharif that the Zionists plan to
take control of the mosque of al Aqsa. This brought about severe riots by the
infuriated Arab population of Palestine. On the same night on which we had
planned to stay with the Makleffs, the Arabs from the neighboring village of
attacked Motza. They massacred the family of the Makleffs, father Arie Leib 53
years old, Mother Batia Chaya 52 years old, daughter Mina 24 years old, son
Moshe Avraham 22 years old and two guests. The youngest son Mordechai and his
sister jumped from the window and were saved. This boy grew up to later become
the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Army. The neighbor to whom they escaped
had a rifle and shot at the mob and it retreated.
Twenty years later when I met my future wife Margalit, I learnt from her that
her close relatives, uncle and cousin were massacred at Hebron during the same
riots which took place at the same time. Also on this occasion their Arab
neighbors, with whom they were on close friendly relations, betrayed them to the
infuriated rioting mob.
am writing you this letter because after
I rested from climbing the slope, I went up to the top of the mountain to the
Memorial Site for all civilians who were killed by Arabs. There is a computer
there and by marking a particular name, one gets all details available on the
deceased, and information about the sad circumstances in which they were killed.
Upon my request the computer gave me all the details about the massacre of the
Makleffs. What I learnt on this occasion was that the Sheikh of Colonia (most
probably the Moukhtar) came on the day before the massacre to the Makleffs and
vowed by Almighty Allah and the Holy Koran that they are safe and should stay at
my way back home, down the slope, I looked to the direction of Motza. As it
started to become darker, lights started to blink from the village, which is
spread now all over the slope and merge with the lights of Mevaseret Yerushalaim
a new suburb of Jerusalem, occupying the top and slopes of the ridge at the foot
of which was the place of the ruined and deserted village of Colonia.
that place there was no light, nothing, nothing, nothing.
just occurred to me that if this Sheikh-Moukhtar would have kept his promise and
his vow by the Name of Allah and the Holy Koran, his reward would have been
marked by the glows of lights coming up one by one, telling about a living Arab
village in the valley in the neighborhood of the village of Motza.
moral of this story is: If you do not want your grandchildren to live in a
refugee camp, do not betray your neighbor who trusted you and your vows.
Ben Gurion University