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Sunday, May 14, 2006


The Nakba Continues

Today marks the fifty-eighth year of an ongoing Nakba [catastrophe], for the Palestinian people although the seeds for the Nakba were sown when the first Zionist colonists came to Palestine in the late nineteenth century with the purpose of establishing not just a home for the Jewish people in Palestine, but a state in which Jews would constitute a majority. By May 15, 1948, when the State of Israel was recognized by President Harry Truman, due to virtually unchecked immigration, Jews constituted thirty-three percent of the population while the indigenous Palstinians owned ninety-two percent of the land.

Dr. Walid Khalidi likens the Nakba to the "ineluctible climax of the preceding Zionist colonization and the great watershed in the history of the Palestinian people, marking the beginning of their Exodus and Diaspora" (Khalidi xxxii). In addition to the depopulation of 418 Palestinian villages [later research by Dr. Salman Abu Sitta puts the number at 530], major urban centers in which Palestinians exclusively populated, including Acre, Beersheba, Baysan, Lydda, Majdal, Nazarth, al-Ramla, and others in which they were the vast majority, (Safad), or in which they enjoyed "substantial plurality" (Tiberias, Haifa, and West Jerusalem), "and their ancient seaport Jaffa, where they also made up the vast majority and in whose hinterland they had pioneered the cultivation of the orange that bears the city's name" fell (Khalidi xxxii).

The new state appropriated for itself both immovable assets including schools, libraries, mosques,churches, residential quarters as well as personal possessions including silver, furniture, pictures, carpets, etc. (Khalidi xiii).

The Nakba didn't end in 1948. According to Karma Nabulsi in the Guardian,
"It is an ongoing daily Palestinian experience - binds this generation directly to the older one, and binds the exiled to Palestine. Indeed, the past few years have witnessed a violent acceleration in this process of attempted destruction - hence the title of this year's event: The Nakba Continues."

One need only scan the Arabic press for a daily litany of horrors. Today:

Occupation forces threatened this morning to break the arms of shop owners in the Jordan Valley for protesting the demolition of their shops.

Seven Palestinians, including two brothers, 18 and 20, were killed in Israeli raids.

In order to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel, "Israel's high court upheld a controversial law that bars Palestinians in the occupied West Bank from living with spouses and children who are Arab citizens of Israel."

Palestinians are expected to just suck it up and not be outraged that a middle class US family has the right to immigrate to Jaffa but a Palestinian born in Jaffa may not be buried in the town of his birth.

Who would not be sickened considering that four Palestinian kids died last week because their dialysis treatments had to be cut back due to sanctions imposed by the US on Palestinians because Palestinians voted for a political party which does not recognize the "right" of Jews from all over the world to colonize their land on which they've lived for centuries.

Who would not be justified to resist dispossesion, demolition, apartheid, imprisonment, confiscation, vilification, humiliation, and eradication.

There is a land. Golda was right about that. There is a people who belong to the land. The old will die. David Ben Gurion was right about that. The old have passed on the torch to the young, who remember. George Bisharat writes, "Recently, on the 10th birthday of my son, Austin Rashid, I was reaching for the telephone to order balloons for his party. I asked 'What colors would you like?'

"He paused from his latest Lego creation, and, looking at me squarely, replied, 'Red, black, green and white.'"

When I first started my blog, I sought the assistance of my thirteen year old, Samira. She suggested after a few weeks, 'Why don't you make your blog the colors of the Palestinian flag?'

"And so," concludes Bisharat, "each new generation remembers." And though the Nakba continues, we will remember the past. And we will resist for the present. And we will look to nature for the lesson. For like the birds who go back from whence they came, we will resist steadfastly knowing that the future promises return.

Reference: Khalidi, Walid, ed. All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948. Washington D.C.: Institute of Palestinian Studies, 1992.

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