Mordechai Lavi, Palmach fighter

“It’s known that if you destroy the roofs of their homes, the Arabs leave” - On the expulsion of the residents of Qisarya 30/11/2011

My uncle, Mordechai Lavi (Motke), who was in the Palyam (the Palmach’s naval force), was a member of Kibbutz Sdot Yam.  After the split in the kibbutz movement, he and the other Mapainiks moved to Kibbutz Ma’ayan Zvi, and years later he moved to Hadera, where he died.

He never talked about the expulsion of Arabs from Qisarya until just before he died.  As they say – when the mind goes, the mouth opens.  He was no longer lucid.

A gathering was organized for his grandchildren in the winter of 2006, so they could get to know him, learn about his life and what he’d done.  It was held about a year before he died.  There were speeches; people praised him and told stories about the past.

Toward the end of the evening, Mordechai recounted some of his recollections.  Though he could no longer find his way home, he clearly remembered what had occurred in the past.  One of the things he mentioned was an order to expel the residents of the little fishing village located on the sands of Qisariya:

“We knew that if you destroyed the roofs of their homes, the Arabs would leave.  So one night – a group of us guys, we destroyed the village roofs and they left…”

Like that, so easy, as if people’s lives weren’t involved.

My aunt, Shoshana, shifted uncomfortably.  By now she’d been taking care of Mordechai as if he were a baby.  She turned to him and said, sweetly but firmly:  “Motkeleh, that’s not something you have to talk about…”, and he replied:  “Shoshankeh, so if I don’t say anything, then it didn’t happen?”

Maybe it’s not relevant, but when Jenin grew and turned into a vibrant, secure town, I heard a radio interview with Zakaria Zbeidi.  One of the things he said was that his grandmother had been expelled from Qisarya in 1948.  And I thought:  Oh, my – my uncle determined Zakaria’s future.