.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Refugees of Zer'in

During Israel's War of Independence, the Palestine Post published occasional dispatches from Dorothy Bar-Adon called "Emek Diary" showing the human side of the war from her perspective.

In this amazing article, Bar-Adon describes the close relationships between her village's Jews and the Arabs of Zer'in (now Jezreel), who lived in a town overlooking much of the valley. The town's strategic position made it ideal for shelling and sniping at the Jewish villages below, and for months the Jews lived in fear of being shot in their houses or fields.

An Iraqi general and his troops arrived in Zer'in and built up fortified positions to attack from. It is unclear when exactly the residents of Zer'in left the town; most of them apparently left when the Iraqis arrived and before the Jews conquered the hill. But as this article makes clear, the Israeli soldiers could hear the Arab women of the village - neighbors and friends of the Jews in years past - shout out war cries during the first unsuccessful attempt to take the town.

Bar-Adon shows that she is in a position to be far more sympathetic to the Palestinian Arab refugees of Zer'in than the international community who were (and still are) insisting on allowing the Arabs to return: she knew them intimately, she celebrated happy times with them, she ate with them. But, as she explains, to allow Arabs to go back to Zer'in is unthinkable, knowing that they chose their sides, they waxed lyrically hoping and expecting the deaths of hundreds of Jews around Zer'in, and that they would choose sides again against the Jews if they are given a chance.

(See Palestine Post-ings for a larger version of the article.)