My colleague, Professor Ahmad, an Israeli Arab, held the brittle papers in his hand. He has read many such documents in his career, and he reads brusquely, without strident emotion. He knows that they reflect an individual speck of human misery in a galaxy of his people’s woe, but he has become a clinician. He examines the pathology of his people’s past with the detached air of a doctor in a hospice: there is nothing that could be done but act with dignity in the face of certain death.
But as he read my document, I could see his lips move ever so slightly, as if he felt the urge to read the paper out loud. So little was written that he was quickly done. He placed the paper before me and smiled quizzically.
“Is that all there is?” he asked. We typically communicate in Arabic.
“Yes,” I answered, carefully taking back the brittle leaves. “I went to the FO archive and there was nothing in and around this date. I did a microfilm search and nothing in the newspapers.”
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “It would have been classified, that is if he was really a Jew.”
“What is Tel Far now?” I asked. Professor Ahmad had written a well regarded book about the remains of former Arab villages in Israel. He opened it and searched the seventy page index.
“There was a kibbutz adjacent to it until the 1967 war,” he said, his head still turned to the page. “Expanding that grove of oranges in your papers. The kibbutz disbanded in 1985. And now… well, it looks like it is some sort of housing project outside of K_______. It is a half hour drive. Do you want to go see?”