Erasing Memories of Palestine in Settler-Colonial Urban Space

The case of Haifa

Authored by: Yara Hawari

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138650749
eBook ISBN: 9781315625164
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315625164-8

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Abstract

In 1948, as part of a determined settler-colonial process to destroy Indigenous Palestinian urban life and the narratives and memories of a burgeoning Arab society, Zionist forces cleansed the coastal Palestinian city of Haifa of most of its seventy thousand Palestinian Arab inhabitants, leaving only three thousand behind. The traumatic displacements and dispossessions of 1948 became known as the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). Seventy years later, Haifa is home to around thirty thousand Palestinians and is one of Israel’s so-called “mixed” cities, boasting coexistence between Jews and Arabs. The Judaisation of Palestine was, and still is, about conquering place and space. Seemingly harmonious, Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs in fact remain socially, politically and economically segregated, and Palestinians face both physical and epistemic erasure from the settler-colonial regime that seeks above all to create exclusive spaces for Israeli Jews. Drawing on fieldwork and literature from oral history, urban studies and Indigenous studies, the chapter examines how the Indigenous Palestinian collective narrative in Haifa is being erased through the Israeli settler-colonial concept of the “mixed city” and controlling urban space and far-reaching effects of such control on the Palestinian inhabitants.

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