A cloudy Saturday, 2 MPTers, 2 IWPS [International Women's Peace Service] women joined with 2 California friends and a group of Israelis, a few Palestinians and several other internationals for a tour by Zochrot of the beautiful little village of Ayn Karim nestled in the hills south of Jerusalem. [Zochrot is a group of Israeli citizens working to raise awareness of the Nakba, particularly among Israelis.]
Ayn Karim is one of a very few villages which survived the Nakba of 1948 with its buildings intact. [Nakba – depopulation of Palestinians from what is now Israel.] The village was home for about 3700 Palestinians who overnight became homeless refugees. Today those village homes are inhabited by Jewish families, some of whom had been expelled from Spain and had moved to Morocco. One Christian Palestinian family, refugees from Iqrit village [near Acre], now lives in the village in an old school building attached to the Franciscan monastery. Palestinian Muslims and Christians lived as good neighbors before the Nakba. There are today 7 Christian churches and monasteries in Ayn Karim. European influence saved the churches and monasteries during and following the Nakba.
The Muslim cemetery in the center of the village has been left in shambles until recently when there has been a effort to turn it into a park. Israelis in the area have worked with the park constructors to show respect that this is a cemetery.
During the tour, people from Zochrot erected signs to commemorate sites that existed in the village before the Nakba.
Those touring enjoyed the beautiful area with blooming trees and plants everywhere. There is a deep sadness in remembering the Palestinian refugees who lost their beautiful village with its lovely homes. [For more information: http://www.nakbaonline.org/Jerusalem/Ayn-Karim/index.html
The Israeli came to the village 31 years ago in ignorance of its past history. Later he was expelled from the Likud Party for his pro-Palestinian views.
This man, a friend of MPT's is much respected by the Sisters
whose convent once was neighbor to many Muslims.