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Oranges and Lemons

Claudette Habesch looks around the garden and points. 'Half of that tree gives lemons; the other half oranges', she says. She has returned to her childhood home in the old city of Jerusalem for the first time in over sixty years. In the 1940s, the Talbieh district was home to the Palestinian bourgeoisie, among them the Habesch family. Claudette's father, a prosperous Christian businessman, used to host parties here in the garden.

Today, the house is home to Ruth Jacoby and the neighbouring buildings include the official residence of the president of Israel. In 1947 the Habeschs rented part of their property to a Jewish family, the Jacobys. Claudette, then a girl of seven, used to play with Ruth in the garden.

They were turbulent times, and the Habeschs decided to take respite in their summer house in Jericho. Until now, none of the family had ever returned. As Claudette entered the garden, Ruth appeared at a window and asked who was there. They recognised each other almost instantly. They greeted each other politely, without being effusive, and then they stood together for a few minutes in the garden where once they had played.

Photographer Alfredo Caliz and writer Juan Miguel Munoz met Claudette and Ruth as part of a project on Israeli and Palestinian people for El Pais Semanal.
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