Heidi Grunebaum’s article on Lubya’s visit



In May 2015, a group of Jewish South Africans (many of whom had been anti-apartheid activists) traveled to Palestine and Israel, in particular to the destroyed Palestinian village of Lubya in the Galilee.   The aim of their trip was to visit this village under the forest that the 2013 documentary film The Village Under the Forest described, to stand in solidarity with the village’s Palestinian descendants who are still displaced, and to take responsibility for the actions being done in their name.

This month’s “Voice from the South” features a reflection from Heidi Grunebaum on the South Africans’  visit to Lubya.   Their visit was covered by several international media outlets, including CNN International (the link is below).



By Heidi Grunebaum
May 2015 ( – 770 KB )


By Heidi Grunebaum
University of the Western Cape

On the 1st of May 2015 a group of thirteen South Africans of mainly Jewish background participated in a ceremony at the ruins of the Palestinian village, Lubya in the Galilee, together with about 150 Palestinians and Jewish Israelis. Under the trees at “South Africa Forest,” the ceremony offered us the opportunity to express a symbolic gesture of solidarity on behalf of 200 other Jewish South Africans.

What is the connection between Jewish South Africans and Palestinians from Lubya? Lubya, along with some 500 other Palestinian towns and villages, was depopulated and destroyed in the 1948 War for Palestine – the Nakba, catastrophe.

Some Palestinians were displaced inside the new state’s boundaries but the majority made into refugees, a condition that persists for many. Israel passed laws to prevent the return of the refugees whilst the Jewish National Fund planted swathes of pine forests across the depopulated land in the name of all Jewish people.

The JNF forest on the ruins of Lubya is called the “South Africa Forest”, a name that invokes our citizenship and South Africa’s legacy of mass forced removals. It is one of hundreds of forests which Jews in the diaspora have helped to cultivate, 86 of which are on the ruins of Nakba villages.

Our trip to the region was organised and hosted by Naif Hajjo from Lubya, a member of ADRID (Association for the Rights of the Internally Displaced) together with Zochrot, an Israeli organisation committed to raising awareness of the Nakba.  Our activities before the ceremony included cleaning Lubya’s burial ground. The cleansing of its desecrated graves as an act of showing care to the dead was profoundly meaningful, a point made by delegation member, Shereen Usdin.

The ceremony comprised two parts. The first was a walking pilgrimage through the forest to different stops at ruins of what had been Lubya’s public buildings and communal sites. At each station yellow signposts in Arabic, Hebrew and English were erected. The act of marking and naming the places at which the buildings had stood is one that connected people from Lubya, their scattered descendants, our group and Jewish Israelis to the materiality of history and place which are the ruins themselves.

After the walk of place-marking, we handed over our pledges signed by two hundred other Jewish South Africans to representatives from Lubya.

The pledge affirms signatories’ acknowledgement of the Nakba, recognition of the irreparability and extent of Palestinian loss, and an unconditional commitment to the struggle for Palestinian freedom premised on the actual return of refugees and displaced.

The possibilities for moral indignation to translate into a politics supporting the actual return became clearer as we examined the timing of the ceremony. It took place during the continuing Nakba, in the midst of deepening state repression and oppression inside the boundaries of Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza.

The structural context for the joint action at Lubya became visible over the days before we travelled to Nazareth to meet our hosts and descendants from Lubya.

In Jerusalem and the West Bank we met with Palestinian and Jewish Israeli activists, daily experiencing the sheer “tangibility of the apartheid Wall” as the delegation’s youngest member observed, and the everyday impact of Israel’s form of settler colonialism on Palestinian lives (and on Israeli lives in different ways) through its current forms of military-industrial, economic, infrastructural, spatial and bureaucratically engineered segregation.

Face to face with the current scale of catastrophe, we witnessed the reverberations of the human disaster of the 1948 Nakba that continue to be felt across the region.

In the Jewish diaspora, it is urgently necessary that the Nakba and its effects on lives and land are made known; that its ethical, moral and political consequences as an ongoing process are engaged; that “the sounds of the system cracking from within” be more widely heard, as delegation member, Stiaan van der Merwe wrote.

We commit to developing a longer term relationship with ADRID and engaging with Jewish activists from the diaspora for Palestinian and Israeli freedom are indivisible. In supporting the indivisibility of this freedom struggle, the time for Jewish people to be present as partners in it has become abidingly urgent.  ■

Heidi Grunebaum works at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape. She can be reached at heidigrunebaum@gmail.com

Posted by Karibu Foundation – Last updated 27.05.2015

The Karibua Foundation & Lubya’s apology visit

The Karibu Foundation

“In supporting the indivisibility of this freedom struggle, the time for Jewish people to be present as partners in it has become abidingly urgent.” — Heidi Grunebaum

Acknowledging the Nakba and Struggling for Justice: Jewish South Africans Visit Lubya. New “Voices from the South” Newsletter (May 2015) out now!

Learn more: http://goo.gl/QGn3zR

Se mere

The Karibu Foundations billede.

Emma Druyan, from SA, comments on her visit to Lubya


In the Mercury today:

In April of this year, just ahead of Nakba day which falls on the 15th of May, a group of Jewish South Africans traveled to Israel-Palestine. Our purpose was twofold. First, we wished to gain direct knowledge of the conditions that face our comrades in their struggle to achieve a just and substantive peace so as better to support them. It is significant to note that these comrades number Palestinians and Israelis, Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and likely other groupings who find their homes, histories, and heartlands, whether ancient or more contemporary, in the region. The fact of this solidarity testifies to an important reality: the struggle for justice and peace is still a hospitable one. But we must not take this

for granted, for daily the violence of the Israeli state and the counter violences it produces imperil the very hospitality without which the social, material, and spiritual future of Israel-Palestine is bleak.

Our second purpose was to participate in a ceremony in South Africa forest in the Galilee.The ceremony constituted an acknowledgement of the Nakba. This is the name given to the tragic events of 1947–48 in which the pre-state armed forces, the Haganah, expelled approximately 800,000 Palestinians in an act of ethnic ‘cleansing’ intended to secure the maximum amount of land with the minimum presence of Palestinians for the Jewish state.

Though the focal point of the ethnic ‘cleansing’ is 1948, it continues by other means to the present day. One of these means is the Jewish National Fund. The JNF, to which Jews in the diaspora, such as ourselves, gave or give money, is implicated
in the ongoing displacement and erasure of Palestinians through evictions and the greening of landscapes that would otherwise bear open witness to the historical reality of established human communities that predate the formation of the state of Israel. One of the concrete ways in which Jews can participate in fostering the hospitality of the struggle, is to stop supporting the JNF whether ideologically or financially.

We also apologized for our implication, witting or unwitting, in the erasure of a Palestinian village depopulated in the catastrophe of 1948 and subsequently destroyed. This erasure was carried out in our name and with our money under the auspices of the JNF who, in the 1960s, planted South Africa Forest over the ruins of the village of Lubya. Such forests, of which ours is but one, compound the injury of the Nakba by attempting to obscure the evidence that it took place. But the presence of a cemetery, wells, the rubble of what were once homes, a school, and mosque, and cacti cannot be so easily silenced. They continue to speak to the existence of Lubya and its people.

In considering what is important about our action, it would be a mistake to privilege our apology. That Lubya’s decedents, made refugees by the Nakba, permitted us to make an apology in the first place is further evidence of the hospitality of Palestinians even in struggle.

Under conditions of ongoing displacement for Palestinians inside the boundaries of the Israeli state, the West bank, and Gaza, this gesture is small and almost insignificant and yet it plants the seed for a politics of solidarity based on restitution, reparation, and return.

This lays bare the extent to which the acknowledgment of the Nakba is also a recognition of the centrality of displaced Palestinian refugees without whom a just and hospitable peace cannot be practically possible.

Emma Daitz

On Nakba Day: After 67 years in exile

Today is 67 years since the biggest and largest ethnic cleansing operation of Palestine took place, with the deliberate destruction of 531 villages and towns and the expulsion of almost one million Palestinians; 2/3 of the inhabitants at the time being. Nowadays 12.1 million Palestinians denied the right for self-determination and the right to exist as all other nations in the world. Half of the 12.1 million Palestinians are living in historic Palestine, while the other half are dispersed in all the corners of the world in 58 diaspora refugee camps and other cities and towns, denied the right to return to their original ancestors’ homeland land. Palestinians nowadays owned only 15% of their homeland soil, while 85% is confiscated. On this occasion I want to assert that third and fourth generations of refugees are more insistent on their absolute right to return to their villages and towns, together with restitution and compensation for the sufferings they undergone in their exile. All colonial powers’ policies, discrimination, occupation and suppression are doomed to failure: in Vietnam, Algeria, South Africa and soon in Palestine. In this occasion I will reset a link to the film “ancestor’s land” where my father Youssef, 92 years old, showed us his original town “Lubya” in 1994, where he was born and grown up, before he died in Copenhagen three years ago:


حلقة لوبية – برنامج حروف في الشتات مقابلة تاريخ شفوي للنكبة الفلسطينية مع, حسين عوده – قناة عودة

الجزء الأول – حلقة لوبية – برنامج حروف في الشتات – قناة عودة

Interview with Hussein Ali Odi-born in Lubya in 1930. (6 minutes)
حلقة لوبية (الجزء الأول) – برنامج حروف في الشتات – تلفزيون عودة – الجزء الأول 12 ايار 2015
More Interviews with Lubyans<
Offentliggjort den 23. jun. 2013

ح 2- مقابلة تاريخ شفوي للنكبة الفلسطينية مع السيد عبدالفتاح محمد الزين من قرية لوبيا – طبريا – فلسطين المحتلة