These are my grandparents. They were raised in Lubya, a village in Palestine on a tall hill near Tiberias, with a view of the lake and the Golan Heights. Today, they are both buried in Copenhagen.
In 1948, they were driven from their home by Israeli forces and spent the rest of their lives in exile. Their village was emptied, and their home was demolished. Their heritage, their lives, their relationships, and their memories were levelled to the ground.
I remember my grandparents as the most affectionate people. When they were stern, they provided the perfect refuge when Mum and Dad had been unreasonable. And when they were warm, their laughter would fill the living rooms with joy. If I didn’t know better, I would believe they never carried trauma.
But the glimmer of longing in their eyes for their homeland never disappeared. A searching, revisiting gaze that filled the silence every time conversations took a pause.
My grandfather, in particular, could spend hours a day staring out over the parking lot, and we used to wonder what he was thinking about. When he passed away, my grandmother began doing the same, only with the view of playful children in the yard instead.
I don’t know what they were thinking while sitting there. Perhaps their upbringing, their escape, the friends they never heard from again, or whether they should have stayed and sacrificed their lives. I don’t know, but they often gazed out of that window in silence.
When I pass by it today, I remember that searching look, which would quickly turn into a smile when we appeared. I guess they never wanted us to know.
I believe there was more meaning in that silence than some people manage to articulate in a lifetime.
Today, their home has been transformed into a parking lot for local settlements. The land is now ready for new occupants from around the world, as long as they can prove Jewish ancestry. In that case, they have the right to my grandparents’ land, a right that was denied to my grandparents, their children, and their grandchildren for eternity.
I wish the suffering had ended with their passing, but it hasn’t. Since they had to leave their home 75 years ago, the expulsion continues. More people have lost their homes, their parents, and their children, all under the same occupying power, with a united West supporting it.
So, these days, I am recollecting my grandparents more than usual. And I will recollect them publicly so that their silence is voiced, and their stories are heard.
Long before land was conquered in Palestine, narratives were conquered. It’s time to reclaim them. For the sake of the forgotten victims and the voiceless.
Because when people die and cities are levelled, stories are their last defence. They can move and inspire justice. Even from the graveyard in Copenhagen. Even from the ruins of Lubya.