May 13, 2007
On Sunday, May 13, 2007, Boston residents and visitors walking through Boston Commons were met with an unusual site: a large map of pre-1948 Palestine chalked on the ground on top of a grid of coordinates. This Tuesday, May 15, marks the 59th anniversary of Palestinian dispossession, and is a painful reminder to people worldwide that the number of Palestinian refugees from 1948 - 800,000 - has now become more than 6 million, and that these refugees are still waiting to return to their villages and their homeland.
As the afternoon progressed, so did the map. Passersby wrote names of Palestinian villages that were destroyed or depopulated on index cards and taped them on the appropriate spots on the map. By the end of the day, we had placed about 100 of the 531 villages, enough to begin to see areas that were more and less populated, to begin to see the outline of the West Bank, to begin to see the patterns of ethnic cleansing that took place particularly around major cities like Jaffa and Jerusalem.
Some people were upset with the activity, stopping to argue politics. Many people walked past (either around the map or over it) without stopping at all. But a large number of people also stopped, either to engage with organizers about the activity or simply to read the names of the villages.
1. Preparing the map.
2. A young boy places a depopulated village on the giant map.
3. A written description.
4. Visitors writing village names on cards before placing them.
5. A passerby walks by the map.
6. A young girl compares Massachusetts and Native Americans with the new info she just learned about Palestine and the Palestinians!!
7. Placing northern villages.