Catastrophe Remembered: Al-Majdal 1950

Posted: February 8, 2014 in Academic Research

The need to change, the need to develop and the need to become a better and stronger version of a current state. We all need that in order to grown, to move forward and to aspire for an update.  But how important becomes this need when others have to face the consequences of an unmerciful situation?

Al-Majdal, a Palestinian city until 1950 with significant religious memory, known today as the Jewish belonging of Ashkelon was built on one of the most powerful collective trauma based on lives, houses, blood and tears.


Space is easily understood as an empirical fact, created independently on human interpretation is one of the most important aspect in the process of domination. Space is the spot on the map or a formal location that, completed by personal implications, embodiment of an individual and lived experience, becomes a place. The ancient Greeks understood this as “a part of the terrestrial surface that is not equivalent to any other, that an not be exchanged with any other without everything changing” (Farelli 2003,11)

Moreover, the understanding of the differences between space and place is completed by Henri Lefebvre and Michael Foucault who fought against a reality containing only people and objects . Thus, the reality comes with human interpretations and ways of understanding based in cultural developments and symbolic constructions. There is a significant relationship between the individual and a space, as they both construct and shape each other.

The current city of Ashkelon was reconstructed between June and October 1950 completely erasing the memory and spacial consciousness of the Palestinian city Al-Majdal. The well-known narrative of the ongoing conflict is simple and easy to understand: Arabs attacked due to their disagreement on allocating the territories, Jews won, got the territories and Palestinian left on a legal term. While the narrative seems somehow rational, the facts construct a completely different story.


 The legal term used by the Jewish state dates since 1858 when the Ottoman Empire developed the Land Code which reasserts a Governmental control over the State Domain. Thus, what is known today as “The Ottoman Law”, based on oral history and never registered was applied in order to assure the Jewish state, control over lands of Palestine, as the “owners” were declared absent. (Tilsen, 2003)

The Jewish state came with a specific goal to conquer as much territory as possible and as a result the rightful habitats of Al-Majdal have been evicted and forced out of their houses at night, without any previous warning and prohibited from the right of return. Hence, the owners have been declared absent and according to the Absentees’ property law of 1950, Palestinian properties and land have been confiscated, taken over by Jewish communities or simply destroyed. (Masaltta, 2005:216)

Nevertheless, after suffering an eviction trauma, many Palestinians have tried to return facing a hysterical consequence of their own right. Ben White(2012) in his article regarding the colonial context, talks about the effects of  several refugees that have decided to return to their rightful properties. They have been “concentrated and sealed off with barbed wire and IDF guards in a small, built-up area commonly known as the ghetto”.

Not only have they been taken their houses and their lands, erased a culture and history that dated for more than thousand years, they have murdered and wretched without mercy or any sort of consciousness. Al-Majdal 1950, is part of what Arabs would call “The Nakba”

“The Nakba is the disaster of Palestinian people: the destruction of the villages and cities, the killing, the expulsion, the erasure of Palestinian culture.[But the Nakba].. is also a story, the story of the Jews who live in Israel, who enjoy the privileges of being the “winners”(Gordon, 2012)


Farinelli, F. (2003) Geografia. Un’introduzione ai modelli del mondo. Turin: Einaudi.

Gordon, N (2012) Erasing the Nakba, Available at: 8th February, 2014).

Tilsen, J. (2003) Ottoman Land Registration Law as a Contributing Factor in the Israeli-Arab Conflict, Available at: (Accessed: 8th February, 2014).

White, B (2012) Gaza to Galilee: The colonial context, Available at:  (Accessed: 8th February, 2014).


Antonia D Hruscovschi 


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