Nakba Parking Lot (Ramle)


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Old Nakba ruins from 1948/9 are all over the place in Israel, barely off the beaten track. I have known for years and years now about the expulsion of the Palestinian-Arab citizens of Ramle during the Israel War of Independence. But I wasn’t expecting to find the ruins of the old town just there, still preserved in rough shape. I would have thought that old Ramle would have been bulldozed and ruined a long time ago. I guess it says something about the neglect of official Israel to cover completely its tracks in the years right after the war. Or maybe just laziness. Or maybe it’s just not that easy to bury the remains of a place. At any rate, the the ruins of old Ramle are there right alongside the local market, one of the most interesting and charming little outdoor markets in the country. The first thing I stumbled across were the architectural shells buttressing the parking lot. On the other side of the market, the mosque is still intact. I’m not sure if it’s still in use. Also intact is the ruined dome of an old Ottoman public bathhouse alongside fragments of bits of the old city wall. The graveyard is outside the old town, not quite surrounded by modern Ramle, a struggling, economically working class town. “Palestine” is part of the unofficial memorial culture of “Israel.” Maybe from public consciousness, none of this is hidden, at least not physically from the public eye. “Palestine” is all out there in plain sight, open to anyone who wants to walk through it.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
This entry was posted in uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Nakba Parking Lot (Ramle)

  1. Raymond says:

    Nakba is everywhere! Even in a city that is 30% Arab! I know you use words to be provocative, and to challenge our reactive instincts.
    Meanwhile, would you care to explain how Operation Dani (whose Ramle divisions had only a few dozen soldiers) succeeded in “expelling” the 55,000 residents of Ramle?

    • zjb says:

      ramle is a mixed jewish-arab city and very cool. as for the history, i think it was Rabin who writes in his memoirs about the expulsion of Palestinian Arabs under what i think was his command. i’d want also to check Benny Morris in “1948” for the details. believe it or not, but i write about this under no necessary political program.

  2. Michael says:

    Which mosque are you referring to? There are several in Ramle, some active, others deserted. Perhas you refer to the “White Mosque” tower, that was destroyed by earthquakes in the 11th century (surely part of the Zionist plot), restored and fallen into disrepair later in the Ottoman periode? Or the Great Mosque, located in a former church? That one looks quite active on Wikipedia.

    And is the work done by Israeli archeologists in Ramle, excavating Arab history, done to “cover the tracks”? Is the loving restoration of The Pool of the Arches done to bury the remains of the Arab heritage?

    Dear Sir, if you’d bother to look up the website of the municipality, perhaps you’d be less surprised to find old Ramle alive and beating, with people of different religions and origins living side by side.

    • zjb says:

      we can agree to disagree. much of Ramle, old and new suffers terrible economic and social neglect. that “heritage sites” developed in Israel are predominately Jewish ones is, i don’t under dispute. at any rate, my use of the word “neglect” was meant to convey something more haphazard and careless than any notion of official conspiracies. sort of like how the Muslim graveyard just down from, what is it, Independence Park in Jerusalem was for years and years simply trash-strewn. perhaps one could add to that the neighborhood in East Jerusalem. you don’t need conspiracy theories to explain this. just official disinterest mixed with contempt for the other, as well as the kinds of basic social inequities that define human social life. as for modern/contemporary Ramle, especially the market, being a place where all kinds of different people mix very easily, i have absolute no dispute with you.

      • Michael says:

        Why “heritage sites” and not heritage sites? That heritage sites developed in Israel are predominately Jewish ones is only natural for the Jewish state. Furthermore, any country with that much historical heritage must make choices which ones to keep to which standard. I think Israel does a tremendous job preserving its diverse history. How about comparing the state of development and conservation of non-Jewish sites in Israel with that of Jewish sites in the Arab countries?

        As to the cemetery you are referring to, as far back as 1928, when the Arabs were building a hotel there, the Mufti of Jerusalem has issued a convenient fatwa saying that a cemetery that hasn’t been used for several decades (like that one) is no longer holy. The cemetery, that was indeed rather neglected, is today a park, used by all. By the way, the Sharia court in Israel has confirmed the un-holyness of the place as to permit its conversion into a park.

        “the neglect of official Israel to cover completely its tracks” – covering tracks is done after a crime is commited, if this is not reference to a conspiracy by “official” Israel (whatever that is) to cover its alleged crimes, I don’t know what is.

  3. zjb says:

    thanks for the critical pushback, Muchael. i was not, of course referring to the White Mosque, which is not a Nakba site, and for the same reason didn’t include the lovely, but slightly unkempt and under-developed Pool of the Arches. the Great Mosque is still very much in use, as you can tell by the loudspeakers in the minaret. the point of the post was to highlight the active and very charming market alongside the neglected parts of old, ruined Ramle near the market, and especially the ruined state of the Ottoman bathhouse which I think is actually very shameful. but in general, i think you ascribe to this post (and other Nakba posts you might find here at JPP) an affect and an animus that are not mine. i’m trying to look at this stuff with more historical distance, but with more honestly than is usually the case.

    • Michael says:

      With all the respect, but “neglect of official Israel to cover completely its tracks” makes it sound as if you believe there was a conspiracy to eliminate all traces of Arab presence in Israel. Fortunately, the presence of active mosques and restored and well-maintained Arab heritage sites proves that your “thought that old Ramle would have been bulldozed and ruined a long time ago” is based on your perceptions and predjudgements, not reality.

      As to “the expulsion of the Palestinian-Arab citizens” – what evidence we have to support that except Benny Morris’s word? An easy search in Google reveals numerous (Arab and Western) contemporary sources that reveal the truth – that “The Arab states which had encouraged the Palestinian Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies, have failed to keep their promise to help these refugees” (the Palestinian Arab newspaper Falastin, Feb. 19, 1949), The Nakba wounds are self-inflicted.

    • Michael says:

      Your post opens with references to Nakba, continues with allegations of expulsion and the subsequent cover-up and finishes with multiple mentions of “hidden” “Palestine”, as if Israel is denying the existance of Arab population. What you mean by “Israel” and not Israel I can only guess. And then you pretend not to write under a political program. Like, really?

      • zjb says:

        Yes, like really, Michael. I really do think the ability to square with the historical record as can best as one can reconstruct it on the basis of documentary and physical evidence in no way necessitates any single political vision or program. I actually support a 2 State Solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, not a 1 State Solution. No one’s asking me, and I’m not a citizen of the country, so I don’t vote.

        But I’ve got eyes in my head, and i see what i see.

        Regarding Israeli politics –and yes, they do impact upon American Jewish life– I’m pretty liberal and I cut down the mainstream. The ability or inability of that Israeli mainstream to recognize its own Arab population, to see it only as a “population,” not as equal fellow-citizens, the inability to enfranchise that minority, as even a rightwinger like Moshe Arens understands, or the incapacity to see how Israel and Palestine overlap in very close, intimate proximity, none of this is my problem. Also not my problem: if the governments of Israel continue to decide to hold on to the West Bank territories, then it will be the rightwing and not the leftwing who creates the bi-national state in what would then probably become Palestine. Also not my problem if the government ends up boycotting itself vis-à-vis the EU or to free terrorists with blood on their hands because its ministers prefer to protect settlements.

        In the meantime, I’m trying to look at things without affect or animus, and to use words like “Palestine” and “Nakba” in the same, more or less neutral spirit, alongside, not necessarily against words like “Israel” and “Zionism.” That means looking, just looking at the historic record and the physical presence and the physical remains of that part and those parts of Israel that aren’t Jewish.

        i consider myself a severely reconstructed Zionist. part of it is that i’m tired of the old arguments, the old apologetics, the old defensive crouch. these things that i see or say don’t scare me. why do they scare you? I genuinely believe that you can look at these things and use these words without drawing any one, single conclusion, not one way or the other. hard to believe.

        at any rate, the conclusions being drawn in real time and space are by people much further to the right of me.

      • Michael says:

        Neutral words are “the” and “it”. Not “Nakba” or “Zionism”. The historical record proves that the Arabs that left Israel were not expelled. Those who claim they were and that Israel has attempted “to cover completely its tracks” are falsifying the historical records in an attempt to force the State of Israel to take a political course they deem necessary. What scares me is the fact that someone who teaches modern Jewish thought is spreading these false allegations, pretending not to be politically motivated.

        As to the the old arguments about the inevitability of bi-national state – I am tired of those. There is a Palestinian state on 80% of Palestine. Its called Jordan.

        And where do you get the idea that Israelis pretend the Arab citizens of Israel do not exist? They exist and enjoy the same rights as citizens of any other ethnic origin, even though they do not perform the same duties towards the state they are citizens of.

      • zjb says:

        and now we know where you stand.

      • Michael says:

        And you still stand behind your claims to a conspiracy by “official” Israel to “cover its tracks”. Lets us know where you stand, too.

      • zjb says:

        i never said “conspiracy.” i said, or at least meant to say official neglect.

      • Michael says:

        You said “neglect of official Israel to cover completely its tracks”. According to you, Israel expelled the Arabs (not true) and tried to eliminated traces of their presence by “burying the traces” and “covering the tracks” (also not true). That’s not an accusation of socio-economic neglect, that’s a blood libel.

      • zjb says:

        No, it’s not a “blood libel.” It’s 20th C. history, and as soon as we understand it as such, the better off we will all be.

      • Michael says:

        You say “expulsion of the Palestinian-Arab citizens”. The Palestinian Arab newspaper Falastin says “The Arab states […] had encouraged the Palestinian Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies”. What a world we live in, where a Jew makes false accusations against the Jewish state, and an Arab newspaper rebuffs them!

        Yigal Allon (1979): “With all my high esteem for Rabin during the war of independence, I was his commander and my knowledge of the facts is therefore more accurate,” he told Shipler. “I did not ask the late Ben-Gurion for permission to expel the population of Lydda. I did not receive such permission and did not give such orders.”

        Benny Morris himself: “All told, if we take all the massacres and all the executions of 1948, we come to about 800 who were killed. In comparison to the massacres that were perpetrated in Bosnia, that’s peanuts.”

        And that’s the Nakba? The great Arab Holocaust? 800 dead? In over a year of bloody conflict? Less than a day’s death toll in Syria. Yes, let’s understand the 20th century history, lets put it into proportion.

  4. Gad Horowitz says:

    Please note that the few Arab victories in the war of 47-8 involved the total destruction of Jewish villages e.g kfar etzion and the 100 percent expulsion of Jews from places like the Old City of Jerusalem

    • zjb says:

      Hi Gad: I have no problem noting that too. I have never thought 1948 was anything but a limited zero-sum game between 2 national antagonists.

  5. Raymond says:

    In other words, since you have eyes in your head you don’t want to be bored with the “history.” In fact, why not just call this blog “impressionistic reactions to my vacation photos.”

  6. Raymond says:

    Fair enough. But you’re being dishonest about the slant of language in this post. It’s fine–this is your blog, you have opinions. It’s baffling that you pretend your language is neutral!

    • zjb says:

      but i don’t think i’m not being neutral, albeit in a peculiar way. all i mean to do with pictures and words is to try to look at things as honestly, and as “critically” as possible, namely with a certain kind of limited detachment. look, here’s a ruin of a Palestinian village, this was once Palestine, here’s a piece of Zionist history, look this landscape. on top of that, i think we can use words like “nakba” and “palestine” without necessarily undermining Zionism, or Israel as a Jewish country. why can’t we look at these kinds of things or talk about these kinds of things at a Jewish thought blog? it’s just about being honest and keeping your eyes open. none of this is intended to support any one particular solution to the conflict. i have my own ideas, whose ship might have sailed a long time ago. but if Israel turns itself into a one state configuration with a Palestinian majority, well, that’s no longer my business, since i’m not a citiizen of the country to which i otherwise feel extraordinarily close for a variety of reasons, mostly personal, but yes, also cultural. the historical narratives belong to history, and much of it is pretty clear, and personally, i care less and less who did what to whom 60 years ago, 100 years ago, etc.. for instance, the Nakba sites in Ramle or Kfar Birem do not make me angry. they are what they are, and i think they’re worth looking at and thinking about as such, outside any one particular program. because everything can always be explained rather reasonably. the actions of one side and the actions of the other side. in the meantime, i’m just wanting to keep my eyes open to what i see. because lots of it have little to do with my own opinions, which i actually regard as quite fallible.

Leave a Reply