A Refugee’s Story

Thank you very much to those of you who came to our talk on 11 November 2019. Over 70 people braved the cold and wet weather to hear our guest speaker, Kholoud Al Ajarma, tell the story of how her family was expelled from the village of Ajjur by the Israeli army during the Nakba (or Catastrophe) of 1947-1949. The village was then destroyed and is now part of an outdoor recreation facility for Israelis. It is ‘owned’ by the Jewish National Fund UK (JNF UK), a registered charity. Like many of the approximately 750,000 Palestinians who were expelled from their homes during the Nakba, Kholoud’s family still hold the title deeds to their property and the keys to their home.
Kholoud told us that, after being expelled, her family made their home in Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, where they still live. Initially they lived in tents, during blisteringly hot summers and very cold winters. She explained how, as refugees, they have the right, under international law, to return to their home. However, this right is denied to them and millions of other Palestinian refugees by the State of Israel.
Kholoud’s talk featured a filmed interview with her grandmother, Fatima, who was a young mother at the time of being expelled from Ajjur. She spoke lovingly of her, now destroyed, village and of her struggle to raise her children in Aida Camp. Fatima is now 101 and her greatest desire is to return to her ancestral home.
Annie O’Gara from Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign then spoke about the work she is leading to ask the Charity Commission to initiate an inquiry into the suitability of the JNF UK to be a registered British charity. This is based on the charity’s past and current actions, including its support of the Israeli army.