RAMALLAH, May 17 (JMCC) - The 62nd anniversary of the Palestinian Nekba, or “Catastrophe” is commemorated by Palestinians this year with the feeling that little has changed – the features of the 1948 war, in which 800,000 Palestinians lost their homes and family members continue on today.
“How can we say the Nekba is over when every day we are losing land and losing Jerusalem
?” says Hassan Khater, secretary-general of the Islamic-Christian Front. “The holy city is slowly turning into a Jewish city. Today we are living though a major Nekba.”
He counts the recent disclosure of Israeli plans to build 12,000 new settlement
units housing 45,000 settlers in Jerusalem as the most recent of many catastrophes.
Abdul Halim Jaber, a journalist in Gaza, believes the Palestinian Nekba today has “different flavors.”
“It is the catastrophe of the Gaza survivors whose limbs were amputated in the last war. It is the catastrophe of my child that doesn’t have toys to play with since Israel
embargoed the Strip. It is the catastrophe of widows and prisoners’ families. It is the catastrophe of division, air strikes and terror, the catastrophe of the despair we live every moment, the catastrophe of hunger, poverty and darkness where power is cut 16 hours a day.”
“Our Nekba can be seen in everything, and we have begun to imagine it will only be over when the siege is broken.”
Sobhi Abdel Qader’s personal catastrophe is his imprisoned brother’s nine-year absence, during which they have been unable to meet, talk or correspond.
“I haven’t seen my brother since his arrest. I only see his pictures on the walls. We haven’t talked or shared our worries. Isn’t this a Nekba?” Abdel Qader says.
The traditional images of the Nekba are the alleyways, tin roofs and seeping wastewater of Palestinian refugee camps.
“The Nekba is the refugee camp and the refugee camp is the Nekba,” says Fadel Khalidi from Jalazon camp
, east of Ramallah
. “The Nekba is the static monotonous rhythm of our lives. We’ve inherited it and it lives within us. We can’t forget it; we get lost in its details, starting and ending with the occupation.”
“We can do nothing save curse our luck.”
Eighty-year-old Hajj Said Shafiq remembers his house in Lod, how he was forcibly removed and half his friends and family killed by Zionist forces at the local mosque.
“I was affected when my nephew Jihad was killed, when my grandson Abdul Qader was arrested, when our home was demolished, when I dropped my rifle 62 years ago, and the occupation confiscated it from my nephew Jihad before killing him.”
University teacher Ziad Ezzat does not understand why Palestinians continue to commemorate the Palestinian catastrophe. “The Nekba is not a memory to commemorate -- it is us and we are it. We had catastrophes in the years 1917, 1936, 1967, 1987, 1994, 1996, 2004, and today we have the Nekba of Jerusalem, the biggest of all.”
He goes on: “Aren’t all these dates catastrophes? Isn’t the biggest Nekba that we haven’t learned from all the previous ones?”