Peled, Kobi. “Palestinian Oral History as a Source for Understanding the Past: Insights and Lessons from an Oral History Project among Palestinians in Israel.” Middle Eastern Studies 50.3 (2014): 412-25.
The purpose of this article is to further explore the potential for Palestinian oral history to be used as a source for understanding the past. It examines existing directions in this field and highlights new approaches based on a discussion of an oral history project conducted by the author of this paper – a Jewish Israeli – in the Upper Galilee between the years 2006 and 2011. The article sharply illustrates the necessity and the urgency of recording Palestinian oral history with regard to the period that preceded the 1948 war, especially where written sources are lacking. It demonstrates the richness of oral history among Palestinians in Israel and exemplifies its ability to capture a vivid picture of a segment of Palestinian rural life before the Nakba. Methodologically, the article emphasizes the significance of cross-checking non-dependent oral sources as well as cross-checking oral sources against written testimonies as a means of striving for the truth and as a useful way of examining the reliability of oral sources.
This paper presents Hurshat Tal (literally Dew Grove) in the Upper Galilee as a case study for one of the fiercest disputes in the history of landscape conservation in Israel. A proposal to convert this ancient grove, a sacred site for Muslims and the sole remnant of an ancient forest of Tabor oak that once extended over the country’s northern region, into a recreation resort highlights the profound differences between the desire to “beautify” and “improve” the landscape and the commitment to preserve natural and cultural remnants of the past. This paper underlines the conflict between the scientific interest of naturalists and the interests of the planning and tourism bodies, and describes the central role played by landscape architects Lipa Yahalom and Dan Zur, who endowed the ancient grove with a new visual image and cultural identity.