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Occupation magazine - Activism

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Exhibition at the Gaza border: the history of a destroyed Palestinian village.
The article in Makor Rishon on the exhibit before the opening, now
translated to English. Solo from Nirim, who`s quoted `I am surprised that
such an exhibition has been granted permission`, was the first visitor.

Elderly of Nir-Oz are angry with an exhibition held by a leftist
organisation that supports the right of return.

Ishay Fridman, Makor Rishon, page 1, July 12, 2019.

In about two weeks the gallery “The White House” will host the opening of an
exhibition that presents the history of the Palestinian village of Al-Ma’in,
that allegedly existed on the lands on which now the kibbutzim Nir-Oz and
Nirim are located, and that was destroyed during the War of Independence.
The “White House” gallery that operates within the ruins of an Arab house on
the fields between the two kibbutzim and is one of the last remnants of the
Palestinian village whose inhabitants fled during the war.

Behind the exhibition is Eitan Bronstein Aparicio, the founder of “De-
Colonizer”, an organisation that is concerned with preserving the memory of
the “Nakba” in Israel and supporting the right of return of Palestinian
refugees. In the past, Bronstein founded the organisation “Zochrot”.
According to him, the exhibition on the Palestinian village of al-Ma’in aims
at transcending “the violent spatial fracture imposed by the military

Several of the village’s refugees nowadays reside in Khan-Younis in the Gaza
Strip. One of the sons of the village is Palestinian-British geographer and
engineer Salman Abu Sitta, who has provided important work regarding the
documentation of the Palestinian Nakba. Several of his investigations and
publications will be presented during Bronstein’s exhibition.

To our knowledge, Abu Sitta has been invited to participate in the
exhibition’s opening through Skype, but he has refused to speak to “the
settlers inhabiting his lands” and consequently avoids their

Two of the founders of the kibbutz Nirim, allegedly established on the lands
of the abandoned Palestinian village, have protested against the upcoming
exhibition. 87 year old Arie Schreiber from Nirim, has opposed the
exhibition and argues that the other members of the kibbutz should not
collaborates with it.

“This exhibition is not innocent,” Schreiber tells us. “It is driven by a
political agenda. What they attempt to do here is unfair. There is history
and there are facts. One shouldn’t invent things that did not happen. Those
who speak about a ‘major colonisation’ of Arab villages which used to exist
in this region, practice politics and not history. I will therefore not take
part in this and I am quite certain that the immense majority of the
inhabitants of the region will not collaborate this initiative.”

His 94 year old friend Haim Shilo, nicknamed Solo, tells that a year and a
half ago a journalist from London came to meet him, sent by the geographer
Abu Sitta. According to him, she asked him “again and again” whether he
didn’t think that the lands of the two kibbutzim should be returned to the
Abu Sitta tribe now living in Khan-Younis. He recalls: “In fact it belongs
to them,” she threw into my face. I didn’t cease to respond “it is you who
started.” There was a war, what do you want to do? The truth is that the Abu
Sitta tribe was a tribe of rioters who caused many problems. I do not know
what will be said in the exhibition, but if it is in the spirit of BDS and
the right of return then I object it. Besides that I am surprised that such
an exhibition has been granted permission.”

In the memory of Schreiber, “before we arrived there were almost no people
here, there were mostly Bedouins and the Abu Sitta family first of all was a
family of criminals who behaved like a mafia and harassed the inhabitants of
the region. The whole activity around it is not fair, it is twisted. Whoever
thinks the Palestinians must return here at our expense should leave the

Haim Peri is the one who turned “The White House” into a gallery. Himself an
inhabitant of Nir-Oz, he welcomes the left-wing organisation’s exhibition
about the Palestinian village. “I put the gallery at their disposal since I
find it important that people know of the history of this place. One may
argue with the creator of the exhibition or one may agree with him, but I
give him total freedom. We know that that there used to be a village here,
and we know several of its former inhabitants. It is evidently not a matter
of rewriting history as this exhibition might intend to, that is not what we
want. He is here to present his point of view and we could debate about it.”
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