A three-minute return to Jaffa – feature

RAMALLAH, For ten years now, the sons and grandsons of Abu Salah al-Ramli would arrive at their grandfather’s home in Jaffa, in occupied Palestine, hoping to get a chance to enter the home from which their antecedents were evicted in 1948, before it was forcefully taken over by Jewish newcomers.

But the dwelling Jewish woman, who is of a Portuguese descent, would shut the door in front of them and forbid them from entering while scolding them in Hebrew.

The sons and grandsons of Abu Salah al-Ramli, who bought the house in the neighborhood of al-Ajami in the early 1920s

Abu Salah’s grandchildren were able to find the right address, thanks to Emad al-Din al-Ramli, who was a student in Egypt before the Nakba and who still remembers a lot of details about life in Jaffa.

The grandchildren drew a map to guide them to the house. They also took use of Google Map to help them find where the house was exactly located.

Haifa al-Ramli, a member of the family, told WAFA that one of Abu Salah’s granddaughters, Dina, was hardly able to enter the house. She, her husband and a relative asked a Palestinian neighbor living next to the house to ask the Jewish woman to let them in.

She added, At first the Jewish woman refused, saying the number was big and that she had no time. They [the grandsons] asked her to be allowed to enter in twos and for five minutes only. She strongly refused and said five minutes was too much.

Abu Salah’s granddaughter told the woman that her grandmother, her father and uncles had not stopped talking about the memories they had at the house. The woman was surprised and allowed them to enter, but for three minutes only!

My family made a small tour of the garden of the house. They found the warehouse room which my grandfather and grandmother had turned into a guest room. When they entered, there was a German Sheppard guard dog in the garden that did not howl or react to them. Ironically, there had been a dog of the same family and color at the house of my grandfather at the time of the exodus, and it remained at the house even after their expulsion. No one can guess the relationship between the two dogs and this strange coincidence, Haifa said.

The Abu Salahs went upstairs and entered the house. At the entrance there was a large rectangular hall surrounded by four bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. The house looked the same, except for the interior paint and some scattered furniture. There was an embroidered Palestinian peasant dress hanging on one wall of a room in the house. They [the Jewish newcomers] have replaced one of the bedrooms into a bathroom, says Haifa.

Dina asked the Jewish woman who lived with her, and she replied that only she and her daughter lived at the house. The woman told Dina she had purchased the house some 50 years ago.

The visit barely lasted for three to five minutes. Dina picked up some pictures quickly via her phone and for only three minutes, and she was keen collect the maximum she could of a legacy stolen 70 years ago.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency