Lifta was a Palestinian village whose residents left in 1948 during the creation of the state of Israel. (The precise circumstances of their departure remains contentious.) Nowadays, the uninhabited remains of the village form an interesting historical site. This might change soon: there are proposals to turn the site into a luxury housing project.
I remember well the day I visited Lifta. It was a hot Saturday morning last summer. We were on a long ramble around Jerusalem and our tour guide showed us through the ruins of Lifta. We stopped by the water spring, where some locals were taking a relaxing Shabbat dip. (You can see us pass through Lifta in this video. I’ve joined the gym since then.)
As we stood in Lifta, politics naturally got raised, as did some voices. Our guide insisted on using Lifta to attempt to contextualise Palestinian terror. I insisted on replying that nothing justifies such terror, and that those who commit terrorism in the 21st century would have never lived in Lifta nor anywhere else in what became Israel. We agreed to differ and walked on.
It’s up to Israel what it does with Lifta. As an outsider, my for-what-it’s-worth preference would be for them to preserve the site as it is. This is not so much for any political reasons, nor for any related to the conflict and refugee issue. After all, the area Lifta is located in territory that would remains Israel’s under any conceivable peace deal. It belongs to Israel and always will – amen.
However, it is an area rich in history, mentioned in the Bible. Any development will loosen the sense of connection to the past. Architecturally, the ruins are fascinating and the area is an intriguing place to look around. There is controversy in Israel itself about this issue – Israelis disagreeing about something? Who’d have thought it? – which is expected to be resolved soon.