Friday, May 05, 2006

Days of Catastrophe

I'm in a final dash to pack up my things for my anticpated Monday travel to the U.S. via Cairo and Rafah Crossing, to meet up with Yassine, and that means finishing up as many of the articles I have left as I can.... someone was commenting yesterday how "well we have advanced so much, now at least we can cross Rafah without having to worry about Netzarim checkpoint and Abo Holi..." funny, its all a matter of persepcive I guess...two steps forward...5 steps back! What in any other universe is completely in the realm of the absurd, is all of a sudden an acceptable status have to travel 8 hour simply to access an airport, while there is one sitting half an hour away.

Tommorow I visit Gaza's "ghost" airport to shoot a photostory for Aljazeera, and after that I must finish up an article on the 55, 000 Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza with no status-waiting for Israeli to grant them family re-unification permits and ID cards for going on 10 years.

In the meantime, the shelling continued to pound Gaza hard today. And the souks have lost their usual Thursday hubub. People feel suffocated. Someone commented to me the other day how they think 90% of Gazans have some form of depression. And if the other 10% dont', they there must be something REALLY wrong with them...

I digress from the topic of what was meant to be a short post, but I just cannot avoid the despair and hopelessness, it is everywhere I look. I saw a man sweeping the street next to us the other night with his children, collecting stray rubbish in a wheelbarrow and disposing of it in a nearby garbage container. I was shocked, and curiosity got the best of me. After going upstairs I headed back down to ask what he was doing-and he casually replied "just something my sons and I like to do every now and again"... that, along with a sign in a public taxi I took today that say, in a crudely written handmade sign, "smoking is not allowed in my taxi!!", made me smile.

So, the point of all this, is to remind of the 58th anniversary of Israelis celebrate their "independence" this month, Palestinians commemorate their "days of catasrtophe". Usually this is May 14, but "filisteenyit il-dakhil"..1948 Palestinians, mark it to parallel Israeli Independence Day, when they march to a different ethnically cleansed Palestinian village each year. Thus comes this moving article by my colleague Jonathan Cooke. An excerpt:

"The Palestinian refugee families were joined by 150 Israeli Jews in an annual procession to commemorate the mirror event of Israel's independence called the Nakba (Catastrophe), that drew the overwhelming majority of Palestinians from their homes and out of the new Jewish state.

This year, the families marched to Umm al-Zinat, a Palestinian farming village whose 1500 inhabitants were forced out by advancing Israeli soldiers on May 15, 1948, a few hours after Israel issued its declaration of independence."

58 years...and waiting. A longer Nakba post later inshallah.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

allah yeshel


11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say I have a prolem with the fact that the Palestinians in Israel chose to mark the Nakba on Independance day, which is decided by the Jewish calender. It doesn't quite make sense.

I stopped celebrating Indepedence Day a few of years ago. While there are occasions on which I feel happy and proud to be Israeli, this is not one of them, and I cannot really celebrate 'my state' as long as it means the continuous denial and suppression of any mention of the dispossesion and occupation of the Palestinians.

But making the Nakba ceremony the mirror event of Independence Day means, for me, the continuation of the zero-sum game which so much of this conflict revolves around. Either your story or mine; either your national disaster or mine; either your truth or mine. Or, as many Israelis think: it's either you or us.

I try my best not to think in such terms. Marking the Nakba on the usual day of May 14 would mean that the memory of the Palestinian catastrophy is not dependant on the Israeli memory of independence, and it does not mirror it, denies it, or seeks to replace it. That the memory of the Nakba has its own existance unrelated to whatever Jewish Israelis do or celebrate.

Maybe this is just another indication that Palestinians inside Israel are actually very Israeli, and that they want their voice heard within Israeli society (and this, for me, is a good thing).

I know the whole thing is very complicated, and i'm not sure I'm expressing myself clearly enough. But as someone who is interested to learn about the Nakba and to make this knowledge wider within Israeli society, I feel that it's important to make Israelis feel that by acknowledging the Nakba they do not undermine their own presence in Israel/Palestine, that it is not zero sum game, us or them.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Christopher Brown said...

I remember a second cousin of mine who was married to his Palestinian wife for over fifty years. They lived, once, in Jaffa, then Al Nakba and all hell broke loose. He and his family fled and lived in Jordan then eventually moved to the States. He died never going back because he said:"I will never go back until they give me back my home." One day when this occupation is all over, in'shallah, I'll go back to reclaim that house.

2:04 AM  
Blogger Halla said...


What state in the USA are you going? Am in California anywhere near??

3:50 AM  
Blogger moi said...

Yeah, I was wondering too where in the US you will be stopping during your trip? Don't mean to be nosy, but I'd love to meet you if you have time :) Good luck packing and I hope you have a safe trip insha'Allah.

4:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking forward to reading your next article ...

Thanks for your hard work,

7:51 AM  
Blogger BHCh said...

"58 years ... and waiting".

Actually it's not just waiting. You guys developed a terrorist society with terrorist Government. And it did not start 58 years ago either. First pogroms took place under the Mandate in 1920s.

5:57 PM  
Blogger الفلسطينية said...

shlemazel, oh yes terrorism is in our culture! i totally forgot about that ! thanks for reminding me! hold up- what about he haganah?- u know those guys who blew up king david's hotel. yea thats not terrorism at all.

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'you guys...'
don't you ever get tired of those fuzzy and lazy and useless generalisations? Who do you mean by 'you guys'? Is Laila responsible to the Hebron massacre of 1929? Am I responsible for the Goldstein Hebron massacre of 1995? Why not talk also about Palestinian car-thieves, or Israeli weapon smugglers to dodgy regimes in Africa? yeah, why not lump everybody together and blame every Palestinian/Israeli for whatever his compatriots did? arghhhh...

is there any point of this game? or is it simply a ritual?

Maybe we can all save some time and energy and from now on conduct the well known Israeli-Palestinian debate by screaming dates at each other.

pro-Israeli: 1929!
pro-Palestinian: 1948!!
pro-Israeli: 1967!
pro-Palestinian: 1967? you must be joking. 1982! 1917!
pro-Israeli: 1921!
and so forth, ad infinitum

7:10 PM  
Blogger Abu-Issa said...

I believe too that we need to move past the rhetoric, shouting dates at each other, who's killing who's innocent children, etc., and just get down to it.

We all want the same thing, we are all humans...the fact that Jews and Palestinians have more in common genetically than with any other ethnic group should help. Up until the 1920's Palestine was a pretty great place, where it didn't matter what religion you were even what language you spoke. Palestine up until then was the first great melting pot of the world.

My vision is of a FREE and United Palestine...let Gaza be a province, let the West Bank and Israel be provinces within a FREE and re-United Palestine.

We all want to live together we just have to start saying it.


10:06 PM  
Blogger Sophia said...


I read the Cook article and actually I took the liberty to post it entirely on my blog because one Israeli commentator, i am sure you know, wished me a happy naqbah day !

Have a good trip and take care.

10:36 PM  
Blogger BHCh said...


Sorry I wasn't very clear. I was trying to address Laila's outlook on life which based on her posts can be interpreted like this:

"My job is to wait and to blame the Jews for everything. I have now waited long enough - down with Israel!!!".

I do believe that we are all responsible for the actions of our governments unless we are actively doing/saying something to counteract them.

Laila is responsible for suicide attacks and Qassams because all she is doing is saying "Oh, how awful, Israel is not taking this lying down!"

Israel has acted to prevent actions like Goldstein's.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laila - enjoy your time away from the madness. Here's a bit of news you need to acknolwedge - Israel is'nt always the bad guy.
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Police used a circular saw to cut through the door of a home in Hebron early Sunday to evict a group of West Bank settlers who were living there illegally.

As police worked to gain access to the home, other Jewish settlers threw stones, slightly injuring some officers, a police spokesman said.

In all, 19 police officers were lightly wounded in clashes with protesters on the scene, police said.

At least 700 police officers were at the site to deal with the angry settlers. Seventeen settlers were arrested, police said.

After several hours, all three families living in the home had been forcibly evacuated, but it took police a little longer to clear out the settlers who had joined the families inside to try to stop their eviction.

A total of 41 people were removed from the home, police said.

A court ruled that the three families were living illegally in the Palestinian home, and the High Court of Justice ordered security forces to evacuate them by Monday.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hope you and Youfuf have a safe journey to the US. You'll be in my thoughts.

KarenM in NC

4:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This year, the families marched to Umm al-Zinat, a Palestinian farming village whose 1500 inhabitants were forced out by advancing Israeli soldiers on May 15, 1948, a few hours after Israel issued its declaration of independence."

I'm confused. I thought that all the Arab states declared war on the tiny fledgling country of Israel on that day. But here you say that Israel marched the Arabs out of town. Hmmm. Nice try at rewriting history.

Well, if only the Arabs had simply marched the Jews out of town wherever they found them, instead of murdering and torturing at every turn. We Jews just don't have it in us to behead people on a murderous whim.

Seriously, though, do you actually believe the stuff you write?

7:44 PM  
Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice comment, don't bother even trying to figure out the "logic" of these people - in a world where "whatever Israel does" is the bad thing there is nothing to talk about with them.
these people only understand force - the more force you use against them the happier they are - when you try to be nice - they blow up your busses and coffee shops (oh and a mall or 2 and a Seder night, and... and ... and... need I go on??)

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Batyah - your first post -
Why is there a contradiction between the two things? yes, the Arab states declared war on Israel on that day. And yes, many Palestinians were driven out by Israeli forces. Do the two exclude eachother? how exactly?
Or do you really believe that the first is a full justification for the second? i.e. the fact that Israel was at war gave it moral justification to drive people out of the their homes?
1948 is a very complex issue. No single story can capture what happened in that war. It cannot be summarised in one sentence. But whatever your view on the war is, what is it that prevents you from feeling empathy for people who had to leave their homes? There were many villages who did not take part in the fighting, or even actively sought agreement with the Jewish forces. But when the day came it didn't help them - Deir Yasin was such a case.
It seems like you are determined to keep to the good jews/bad arabs story. I think I am one of many Israelis who are not content with that story anymore.

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ratttu, what is not a point of contention is that Arabs have a long history of Jew-hatred -- pre-dating 1948 or Zionism. I'm sorry for ALL innocent people who, in their hearts, do not want war or conflict but who are victimized nonetheless. What I do NOT have sympathy for is the continual whining and squalling of the "Palestinians" about their plight in life. They are 100% responsible for themselves. For G-d's sake, millions of dollars have been poured into their coffers for 50 years now, and they have nothing to show for it. They should be ashamed. Israel has been under siege by Arab nations relentlessly in that period of time, and has managed to create a functioning state, a state which gives a great deal of aid to their own sworn enemies -- something that NO other nation would do (except the U.S.). The Arab world has shown no interest in actually helping "Palestinians" but has used them as a tool to needle Israel. I would think that any reasonable, rational "Palestinian" would be outraged at this kind of treatment, not to mention the betrayal of Arafat and other of their leaders. Yet, somehow, the Jews remain the bad guys! It is unbelievable.

I find it highly irritating that Arab citizens walk freely around Jerusalem, into shops, into hospitals, into my college -- and they are not only unmolested, but Jews are friendly to them. Yet I cannot walk into the Muslim quarter of the Old City, nor into East Jerusalem, without fear of being stabbed to death.

This is the truth. There is something wrong here. Jews are viciously maligned, and maligned here on this blog, but the reality is otherwise. So, no, I don't have much sympathy and I have no patience left. The Arabs need to accept responsibility for what they are and for what they do and how they foment hatred and violence among their own people. They have NO intention of ever living peacefully alongside Jews and buddy, if you believe that they do, then there is nothing I can do to help you recover from that brainwash. Nothing short of our annhilation will suffice. And we aren't going away. So the future does not look bright for the "Palestinians." Again, for those who are innocent in their hearts and who have no power to change their destiny, I am sorry. But if the polls mean anything at all, and I think they do, such people are in a minority. Better for them in the long run that we should deal swiftly and harshly and definitively with those wicked among them.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thing -- you know, when you START a war with a small group of people who are desperately trying to survive after something as horrific as the Holocaust (never mind that the "Palestinians" might have been a bit more welcoming in the first place of fellow humans who had suffered such an ordeal), then you CAN HARDLY COMPLAIN when that small group of people whip your ass fair and square and take some land. That's called "losing the war." It happens a lot in history. You should read about it. As you read, you may learn that never in history has a nation been pressured by the world to return land gained in a war they did not start. Arabs -- you lost! That's it. It's over. And the only reason you have not been absolutely obliterated is because of the mercy (or stupidity) of the Jewish people who still foolishly wish to make peace with you.

7:40 PM  

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