"We had lost everything. Our home, our farmland, our belongings had all been taken by the Israeli government," he said.
He and his brothers gradually rebuilt their lives in Nazareth, at first selling cakes from a trolley and later saving enough for each to buy a shop. Abu Arab today sells artefacts from Palestine's past, including sheepskin rugs, battered copper cauldrons and British Mandate coins.
He has also created a museum in Safafra to help the younger generation understand a way of life that has all but disappeared since the destruction of villages like Saffuriya.A shared community?
Abu Arab believes the refugees will one day return to their villages, and that they can live in peace alongside the Israeli Jews who took their lands. But Kruger is less sure that such residential intimacy is possible in the current political climate.
"I'd be delighted myself to live in a shared community. But I'm in a small minority," he said. "The problem for most residents is that they want to feel at home in Tzipori and they think Jews and Arabs are too different. They don't want someone strange, someone different, among them."
He pointed out that there were already heated disputes between Jewish families in Tzipori, especially between the veteran farming families and the newcomers who mostly work in offices in nearby cities and prefer a suburban lifestyle.
"Bring Arabs into that mix and it would a recipe for an explosion," he said.
Abu Arab said it was time for an end to the kind of mentality that had allowed Israeli Jews to claim the land was largely empty of inhabitants until Jews settled Palestine.
"Zionism is an outdated ideology, one that will prevent any meaningful peace as long as it is in place," he said. "It's time for new thinking."