As a girl, Dalia felt there was a mystery about her family’s home. She loved the high ceilings and large windows, the stone facade, and the walled garden, where a lemon tree grew. Who had built this house? What had become of them?
Dalia’s parents, the Ashkenazis, had come to Israel from Bulgaria in 1948, when she was an infant. The government placed them, along with other Jewish immigrants, in this house in Ramle, near Tel Aviv. After a while, the other families moved out, and Dalia’s father, Moshe, bought the house from the government. In the garden, he planted a shady jacaranda—a tree with showy blue flowers.
Dalia’s questions about the house unexpectedly received an answer one day in July 1967. A man in his mid- twenties named Bashir Al-Khayri and two other Arab men rang the bell at the front gate. When Dalia invited them in, Bashir explained that his father had built the house in 1930, but the family was forced to leave in July 1948 when the Israeli army forcibly removed the Arab population of Ramle. Since then…
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