Palestinians remember their displacement with the creation of Israel
May 15 is a tragic day for Palestinians. Known as al-Nakba (the catastrophe), this day is one of mourning, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Carried out under “Plan D,” Zionist militias invaded, expelled and
forced the capitulation of thousands of Palestinians in its goal to establish a Jewish state.
One of the most significant events leading up to the Nakba is the massacre of Deir Yassin on April 9 of 1948. Located between Jerusalem and Tel al-Rabia (presently known as Tel Aviv), the residents of Deir Yassin were attacked by Irgun and Lehi, two Zionist militia groups. Over one hundred men, women and children were killed. Some who survived were paraded in trucks through Jewish settlements and then shot to death. The remaining residents fled to Jerusalem and neighboring Arab countries. Houses were blown up, the village cemetery was bulldozed and the village was eventually erased, reinhabited and renamed Givat Shaul Bet. This massacre is forever ingrained in Palestinian memory and is reflective of the systematic terror employed by Israel not only during the country’s creation, but today as well.
What happened in Deir Yassin was part of the larger Zionist strategy of ethnic cleansing leading up to the Nakba. Over 500 Palestinian villages were wiped out, renamed and reinhabited by Jewish settlers. The Nakba not only includes the demolition of villages, but also the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 men, women and children, and the killing of over 15,000. For Palestinians living in exile, this means they can never return to their homes. Hundreds of
thousands have become refugees, and many remain living in poor conditions in camps. Families have become separated and torn away from their homes.
I come from a Palestinian village in the West Bank. The military occupation, complete with checkpoints, had been almost bizarrely normal to me. Water shortages, unreliable
electricity and constant anxiety that my brother might not live to see tomorrow was my everyday life. Despite our circumstances, we still felt lucky to not have experienced the horrors of
those in Deir Yassin and the hundreds of other Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel.
The destruction of Arab Palestine during the Nakba has shaped the notion of Palestinian identity forever. What remains abundantly important is the perseverance of this identity, which has been suppressed and forgotten by the rest of the world. Today marks the 70th year since the creation of Israel and the subsequent dislocation of millions of Palestinians. Our identity as
Palestinians rests upon exile, loss and suffering. It relies on the connection we hold to our
homeland and in the narratives we so valiantly work to protect.
Today, on May 15, the Students for Justice in Palestine will be hosting a “Day of Remembrance.” They will be sharing stories and poems and showcasing Palestinian art, literature and clothing. This event will take place on the Quad between 12 and 2 p.m. More information can be found here.
Written by: K. Ibrahim
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