The history of the “Nakba” told through one street in the city of Jaffa.
Sixty years ago, Jaffa was the most prosperous, most cultured, most populous and most influential city in Palestine and part of a network of key Arab cities that stretched from Cairo to Damascus.
|‘A very special city’|
Shafiq al Hout was forced to flee Jaffa in 1948
In May 1948, most of its citizens fled the city in terror. In just a few days a community of 120,000 people was reduced to fewer than 4,000 as an almost undefended population fled the forces of the Zionist movement which were fighting to establish the state of Israel.
This exodus was repeated all across Palestine. In 1948 up to one million Palestinians became refugees, most of them escaping to neighbouring countries, never to see their homes again.
Palestinians refer to this enforced mass migration as ‘al-Nakba’ – the catastrophe.
The city of Jaffa, known as Yapho in Hebrew and Yafa in Arabic, is also known as the Bride of Palestine. It was a city made of golden-coloured stone that sat for thousands of years looking over the eastern Mediterranean.
Jaffa is now a down-at-heel suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, but Palestinians’ memories of their home before the events of 1948 refuse to be erased.
|The road known previously as Ajami Street
runs like a spine through Jaffa
People living in refugee camps abroad, who have not seen Jaffa since they were children, still sing its praises.
To try to convey this tragic narrative, Al Jazeera decided to focus on one of the main streets in the city.
Like most places in the area, the name has changed in recent times from the Arabic Al Hilwe Street to Yefet Street, but many people still call it by its popular name, Ajami Street.
Ajami Street runs like a spine through Jaffa, but it also runs like a spine through the story of the ‘Nakba’.
In a special two-part programme, presenter Mona Ibellini and producer Geoff Dunlop hear stories in this street of upheaval, pain and loss, but also accounts laced with humour that evoke a vibrant, vital city.
Palestine Street offers up a personal and intimate version of the ‘Nakba’ and the times before and after, providing a description that reaches beyond political rhetoric and the history of the Middle East conflict.
Some of the people Al Jazeera talk to have not seen the street for 60 years, but it has never left them. They hang on to vivid details of when they were young.
Watch part one of Palestine Street – The Lost Bride
Watch part two of Palestine Street – The Lost Bride
Watch part three of Palestine Street – The Lost Bride
Watch part four of Palestine Street – The Lost Bride
Watch part one of Palestine Street – The Bride in Exile
Watch part two of Palestine Street – The Bride in Exile
Watch part three of Palestine Street – The Bride in Exile
Watch part four of Palestine Street – The Bride in Exile
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