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“Before his kibbutz, there was a Palestinian people”

The Israeli Eitan Bronstain

Commotion or denial: the exhibition organized by an Israeli in the only house that remained in the Palestinian village of Al Main after the exile of 1948 does not leave the current Jewish residents next to Gaza indifferent, who did not know the history of those who inhabited what today They are his kibbutz.

“I am with a heavy heart,” clears the fist the Israeli Gadi Moses, who has come out in the middle of the screening of the documentary where the grandson of the owner of the house, Ahmed Abu Sitta (Abu Ala), tells what his hometown was like and how his family took refuge in the Gazati town of Jan Younes, just seven kilometers away, today separated by a metal fence.

“But I think it doesn’t show the whole story,” adds Moses, who assures Efe that he is torn between heart and head.

It is one of the slightly more than 100 visitors, mostly residents of the neighboring kibbutz – agricultural communities of socialist origin -, which has come this week to the exhibition of the Israeli Eitan Bronstein created, in Hebrew, so that the local public knows a past Of which few had references.

“The history of 48 (the creation of the State of Israel and the exile of more than 700,000 Palestinians) does not affect us more than the present,” Moses meditates and assures that the new generations will not understand the exhibition because what worries them is fear of their children.

And it is that in this symbolic place of crops, which is accessed by roads with bomb shelters next to bus shelters and from where Gaza can be seen, thousands of Palestinian militia shells have fallen in recent decades.

So the reactions are polarized, says Bronstein, “some are moved by the history and others reject it. They don’t even believe it because Israel was created in this denial.”

“Our identity as Israelis is based on the denial of Palestinian history,” says Bronstein, founder of the De-Colonizer initiative, which documents the history of historic Palestine and the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic) and has created a map in the which locates the ruins of some 500 Arab villages that were totally or partially destroyed with the creation of the State of Israel.

With the help of Abu Ala and an aerial photo of Al Main from 1945, Bronstein has managed to locate stones that once were the grocery store, the school, the irrigation well, and residences, of a population of over a thousand Palestinians, today refugees.

Only the home of the grandfather of Abu Ala that was known as “The White House” by the residents of the kibbutz remains intact, today turned into a gallery that has shown the unknown history of the town for five days.

“The classic Zionist story is that the areas were depopulated, but today there are few people who maintain that lie. Currently, Israel does what it is to confuse between the Nakba and the war (of Independence, 1948)” when exile and destruction of Palestinian villages began before and continued later.

“From here, from there” challenges the narratives in this way about what happened in those years, while putting on the table the controversial “right of Palestinian refugees to return,” recognized in international resolutions and which Israel rejects.

It is one of the questions that Bronstein also poses to visitors, and to which Moses defends his residence as a “national motive,” while what he criticizes is the “current Jewish occupation of the Palestinian territory of the West Bank” (which began in 1967 ), but also the attack on civilians from Gaza.

“If you want to attack the Army, go ahead, no problem, but when they started attacking people they lost their mind,” he says.

The overlapping of narratives and personal stories, the debates between the solution of a single state or two are reflected in the conversations of the visitors that, in turn, coincide in a progressive deterioration of the situation.

“I think they (the Palestinians) want all or nothing and on this side (Israelis) little by little too. People have lost the commitment,” Moses laments without losing optimism.

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