Lifta is a peaceful village situated on the slopes of al-Shami Valley, at the western entrance of the city of Jerusalem. Like other Palestinian towns and villages, Lifta’s people were displaced as part of an extensive and premeditated plan of ethnic cleansing in 1948. Many of Lifta’s buildings are still standing to this day, clustered around its historic center or on its peripheries. For various reasons, they were not destroyed like the houses in other towns and villages, and they bear witness to the Nakba of 1948. Lifta manifests various aspects of the development of the Palestinian village: architecture, culture, urban planning, waterworks, vegetation, and creative interaction with the surrounding environment. These features have made Lifta a site of human habitation for over four thousand years. Although this book focuses primarily on cultural history, it does not overlook the humans who lived there and their destinies. To avert the further destruction of Lifta, and as a result of considerable efforts on the part of numerous experts, Lifta’s architecture has been documented, its environment has been studied, and its history and archaeological remains have been surveyed, in an integrated fashion, as this book demonstrates.
The book also explores the struggles of Lifta’s people and their effort to preserve their village, not merely as a unique exemplar of cultural heritage and a model of the Palestinian village before 1948, but also as a witness to the Nakba and a symbol of the hope of return. Many of the people of Lifta still live nearby, in Jerusalem and Ramallah, and have never ceased to visit it and to organize tours among its remains. This book is both a register of the past and a record of persistence and endurance.