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Palestine: Remembering the Nakba

May 15 is Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate the displacement and dispossession that took place at the time of Israel's establishment in 1948. In this post we look at how the day was marked by Palestinians on blogs and Twitter this year.

“Nakba” means “catastrophe”, and refers to the process of mass expulsion of Palestinians from their villages by Israeli forces both before and after Israel declared itself a state in 1948, creating a large Palestinian diaspora around the world.

Palestinian blogger Rana Baker told the story of Hajj Othman who was expelled from his home village during the Nakba:

Hajj Othman Sa’d Aldeen al-Habbash was born on 29 June 1941 in a small Palestinian village west of present-day Ashkelon known as al-Jura. On November 4 and 5 1948, the village was mercilessly depopulated of its native inhabitants who numbered just under 3,000 in 1948. Just like the rest, Hajj Othman, seven years old at the time, fled to Gaza. [...] “I left my schoolbag at my house in al-Jura, we thought it was temporary. They raided us from their planes. Eighty-six were murdered in a matter of few minutes.”

Mural in Rafah, Gaza Strip on theme of Palestinian refugees returning to their homes. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib, copyright © Demotix (8/05/2012).

Iyad El-Baghdadi tweeted:

@iyad_elbaghdadi:كان جدي الأكبر يعمل في بناء وإصلاح المراكب في يافا وبعد ‎‫النكبة‬ تنقل إلى بورسعيد ثم دمياط ثم القاهرة
My great-grandfather used to build and repair boats in Jaffa and after the Nakba he went to Port Said then Damietta and then Cairo.

64 years of a catastrophe called Israel. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff.

Blogger Sami described what happened to his maternal grandfather:

My mother’s father was born in the town of Ramleh. He lived there for the first decade and a half of his life. [...] In 1948, my grandfather and his family were among the 70,000 Palestinians who were forced to leave Ramleh, the neighboring town of Lydda, and the surrounding villages. He died in 1987, having returned only once in the 1970s for a brief visit with family members who had remained in the town. A Jewish family now lives in this house. Neither my grandfather’s parents, nor he or any of his siblings ever received so much as a cent in compensation. They certainly never received acknowledgement for their losses.

Blogger and anthropologist Jhshannon narrated the story of Nidal's family:

Nidal’s family traced its origins to the Palestinian city of Safed – a religious and commercial center in Galilee in the North of Palestine. Her grandfather, a certain Marwan al-Safedi, had been a wealthy merchant as well as local religious leader during the first half of the twentieth century. He and his wife, Faidah Sharabi, bore two children, Rashid and Fatima, and they lived in a spacious home toward the edge of the southern part of the city. Then came the Nakba, the “Calamity.” The family was forced to flee Safed in May, 1948, following Operation Yiftah, a plan by Jewish paramilitaries to take over Safed as part of the broader conflict that resulted not only in the establishment of the State of Israel, but also in the flight and exile of many of thousands of Arabs from Safed and neighboring villages.

Palestinian activist Yousef Munayyer said:

@YousefMunayyer: On the Nakba in 1948, Ben Gurion said “The old will die and the young will forget” yet #WeWillReturn48 trends worldwide in 2012

And journalist Dima Khatib tweeted:

@Dima_Khatib: It was 64 years ago, on a day like today, that many like my grandmother, started the journey of refugees, for the rest of their lives ‪#Nakba‬

  • Manzoor H. Sarkar

    Is it not very similar to what happened to the Jews during the second world war ? Only the roles and scenario are different . The Palestinians are now the victims and the Jews are the oppressors . The Schindler List Part 2 can be filmed based on this scenario. But the problem is that there is no lobby group in the US to back up & support such project .

  • Hashek

    As long as the majority of the vectors of opinions and/or decisions, (politics, political analysts and journalists ), in of numerous big as small countries, will think that the birth of the Israeli pseudo-state (in 29.11.1947 and 14.05.1948) was legally justifiable, there will not be an ethical and just solution, no Palestinian state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan. A non-denominational sovereign state with also ex-iIsraeli not racist or penitent Palestinian citizens (maybe) Jewish (although) not being able to prove that their ascending in the zero year were mainly hébreuses and thus that they live good on the ” ground of our forefathers “.

    The resolution 181 of the UNO was only a recommendation and an order of sharing; at least 9 voices of 33 states which voted “yes” on 56 were obtained against pressures or from some money; and other states did not know that Ben Gourion had no intention to respect the letter and the spirit of the text, but wanted only that the text contains the words ” Jewish state “.

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