I Am an Illegal Alien on My Own Land

Susiya Forever

David Shulman’s Essay on Susya in ‘The New-York Review of Books’ Blog

‘I Am an Illegal Alien on My Own Land’

David Shulman

Eitan Abramovich/Getty Images

A Palestinian couple inspecting their former cave dwelling in Susya following an earlier expulsion, September 6, 2004

In 1949, shortly after Israel’s War of Independence, S. Yizhar—the doyen of modern Hebrew prose writers—published a story that became an instant classic. “Khirbet Khizeh” is a fictionalized account of the destruction of a Palestinian village and the expulsion of all its inhabitants by Israeli soldiers in the course of the war. The narrator, a soldier in the unit that carries out the order, is sickened by what is being done to the innocent villagers. Here he is in Nicholas de Lange and Yaacob Dweck’s translation (Ibis Publications, 2008):

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