1948 saw over 500 Palestinian villages destroyed. Fleeing the violence, hundreds of thousands found homes in squalid, teeming refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Many more remained, to be concentrated over the years into the areas we now know as the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinians call this event (as Aisha points out in the extract above) ‘Al Nakba’ or the catastrophe. It forms the background to Olives because it’s the background to the story of Aisha’s family in the book.
I’d like to recommend a book to you, particularly if you find yourself intrigued by the subjects Olives touches on, take a read of Pamela Olsen’s Fast Times in Palestine. It’s a candid, well-written and very readable book that looks at everyday life in the West Bank and it will probably make you quietly angry.
I have vague memories of watching fighter jets on TV flying above the Golan, it must have been in 1973, the little silver/white shapes twisting and turning, popping out flares behind them. Even to this day, I can’t fly into Beirut without seeing those little shapes following my path down the corniche from the North before we glide out to sea then turn to land at Beirut International with Sassine looming majestically above us.
the Amman Amphitheatre conceals a little secret. The Folklore Museum of Bedouin Life is a tiny but fascinating display of artefacts, textiles and weaving from the remarkably rich Bedouin culture of the Jordanian desert. It’s a neat little wonder, this place, I never tire of wandering around it and admiring the intricate, colourful kandouras and the head-dresses of jangling silver coins and tokens, the goat-skin water carriers and camel-hair tents.