Plans change quickly here. A series of circumstances leave me here another day rather than heading to Tel Aviv. I can not say I am disappointed – this has been a good trip.
After lunch with Hanna's sister and her family, we all go to visit Bir'am. What happened in Bir'am ’48 is detailed in the book “Blood Brothers” by Abuna Elias Chacour who lived it. I have been to Lifta – another Arab village destroyed in 1948, but I did not experience the same cascade of emotion there. Perhaps this time was different because I already knew the story well. Perhaps it is because I am here with a family that has been a part of this history – this pain.
You can walk among the ruined homes - the only thing left standing is the church (where former residents still return for baptisms and burials). There are also the ruins of a synagogue – testament that once (not so long ago) Arabs and Jews lived here together. I can hear their voices and I can feel their grief – it is overwhelming.
Because of this synagogue, this place has been made into a Israeli National Park. The only mention of the Arabs that once lived here are plaques placed by an independent Israeli group, Zochrot. Their mission is to educate an unwilling Israeli public about what happened to these villages in 1948 to make room for the new Israeli State.
Hanna points out the hills of Lebanon.I did not realize we were so close. Sometimes things seem so impossible. How do people move from overpowering fear on one side and overwhelming grief on the other to come together? Is it even possible? They have all lost so much – isn’t it time to heal?