The Village Under the Forest
The real story of how the Palestinians were driven from Israel in '48
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Mark J Kaplan is an award-winning filmmaker, whose 25-year documentary filmmaking career has been committed to human rights. His work treats themes of memory, social justice and the search for accountability. Between Joyce & Remembrance, Marks 2005 feature-length documentary, explored the response of three generations within one family to the death of their son at the hands of the Apartheid Security Police. It won the Award of Excellence, Film and Video festival, Society for Visual Anthropology, American Anthropological Society, 2006. His co-produced feature, The Lions Trail, won the Emmy Award (2005) for Outstanding Cultural and Artistic Programming, while Where Truth Lies (1999), a 30-minute documentary that examines issues of truth, healing and reconciliation in South Africa, won joint first prize at the One World Media Awards for Best International Documentary 1999 in London and Best of the Festival Award, Vermont International Film Festival, 2000.
Heidi Grunebaum is a scholar and writer. She works as a senior researcher at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape. She is author of Memorializing the Past: Everyday life in South Africa after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (New Brunswick: Transaction, 2011) and co-editor, with Emile Maurice, of Uncontained: Opening the Community Arts Project Archive (Cape Town: Centre for Humanities Research, 2012). Her work focuses on memory and trauma; the afterlives of war and genocide; and psycho-geographies of displacement in South Africa, Germany and, more recently, Palestine/Israel.
In September 2009, I was part of a group of four South Africans to visit South Africa Forest, a pine forest and leisure park in the Lower Galilee, Israel. Part of a larger Jewish National Fund (JNF) forest called Lavie, South Africa Forest was established by the JNF and funded by contributions from its South African chapter.Our visit to South Africa Forest was an attempt to find the remains of a destroyed Palestinian village, Lubya, that was covered by the forest.Lubya was forcibly depopulated in mid-July 1948 by Israeli military units, during what is called The War of Independence in Israeli nationalist histories and what Palestinians call The Naqba (The Catastrophe).Many of the physical remains of the 513 depopulated Palestinian villages were destroyed by the Israeli Defence Force in an operation called Clear the Land in the 1960s. But the physical remains of Lubya were blown up, destroyed within two weeks of it being conquered.In the years following the depopulation of the Palestinian villages, the JNF planted 86 pine forests and parks on top of the rubble of the destroyed villages. One of the South African delegation expressed deep distress, since he had been a guest of a South African Jewish organisations visit to Israel and had been taken to plant a tree at the forest. He had himself been a victim of the mass forced removals in South Africa after the Group Areas Act of 1950 when he and his family were removed to a township called Vergenoeg. We stood amidst the rubble of what had once been the cemetery of Lubya and expressed a common commitment to bringing the tragic resonances of Lubyas destruction, concealed by the forest, to a wider audience.