Dear members,
Assalamu Alaikum.Please read this tragic story.
Shah Abdul Hannan

Nakba at 61

While its founders believed that the violence and racism at the heart of
Israel's birth would be forgotten, it isn't and never will be, writes
Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem 

As they do every year, Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line that
separates the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Israel have been
commemorating the passage of 61 years since mainly East-European Zionist
Jews created the Jewish state on 78 per cent of the Palestinian national
This year, the commemoration affirmed a renewed determination to uphold
the right of return for as many as five million Palestinian refugees
whose forefathers were expelled from -- and often massacred into fleeing
-- their ancestral motherland.
Al-Ahram Weekly spoke to some elderly Palestinians who survived the
Nakba, or "catastrophe", which a growing number of Palestinians are now
referring to as "the Palestinian holocaust".
Mohamed Abu Sharar, who fought alongside the Egyptian army outside the
village of Falluja under the command of Gamal Abdel-Nasser, vividly
remembers the massacre of his fellow villagers at Al-Dawayema, a few
kilometres southwest of Falluja.
"The Jews killed anyone they saw, they broke the heads of children, cut
open the bellies of women with bayonets. They even raped some women
before murdering them," said the now 100 years old Abu Sharar.
He tearfully recounted how Israeli soldiers mercilessly massacred dozens
of fleeing families that had found shelter at a cave outside
"The Jews ordered them to come out of the cave and get into a row and
start walking. And when they started walking, they sprayed them with
machinegun fire from two sides, annihilating them all. A woman who
pretended to be dead survived."
The same fate met some 75 elderly Sufis who had come to the local
mosque, known as Masjid Al-Darawish. A contingent of Israeli soldiers
arrived at the mosque shortly before Friday's congregational prayer, and
riddled all 75 with bullets. "Not a single one escaped death."
The Weekly asked the century-old Palestinian what was his wish after all
these years. "My wish has remained unchanged, it is to return to my
village, to die and be buried there."
Asked if he would accept compensation for his lost property at the
village of Al-Dawayema, Abu Sharar said: "It is not a matter of property
and compensation. This is my country, my history, my home, my childhood
memories. My father is buried there, so is his father and grandfather.
Would you trade the grave of your father for all the money in the
The last phrase is what irks the Israelis more than anything else. To be
sure, in 1948, both Arabs and Jews miscalculated. The Arabs never
thought in their worst nightmares that things would turn out as they
have; that Israel would take over the rest of Palestine and the
refugees' exile would continue so long. Similarly, the Zionist
leadership, mesmerised by arrogance and self-absorption, never thought
that the refugees' plight would continue to be relevant 61 years later.
Some Israeli leaders thought the "old would die, and the young would
Today, with hopes for a just peace in Palestine dissipating,
Palestinians are more determined than ever to cling to the right of
return as the "soul and heart" of their enduring cause. Moreover, many
Palestinians consider the right of return as a moral asset of immense
and sacred importance.
A few years ago, particularly during the height of the false euphoria
accompanying the Oslo "peace process", some Palestine Liberation
Organisation figures showed a certain willingness to compromise the
right of return. Indeed, some Palestinian Authority (PA) officials went
as far as reaching and signing "understandings" with Israeli figures
that implicitly recognised that the refugees wouldn't be able to return
to their homes in what is now Israel in the context of any final status
settlement between Israel and the PA.
Now, thanks to the failure of the peace process and also to Hamas's
strong standing in the Palestinian national arena, no Palestinian leader
or official dares utter a word that might suggest a willingness to
compromise on the right of return, as this would be political suicide,
both for individuals and political factions. With the right of return
becoming a conspicuous feature of Palestinian national discourse, some
Israeli leaders are trying nervously to cut that right by force.
Last week, the extremist party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman,
Yisrael Beiteinu, proposed a ban on the commemoration of the Nakba by
the 1.5 million Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. The proposal drew
angry reaction from Palestinian leaders inside Israel, with Arab Knesset
member Ahmed Teibi calling it "a pathetic attempt to deny history."
"Instead of coming to terms with historical facts, the fascists in
Israel are trying obliterate these facts through legislation. What kind
of mentality do these people have? What kind of education did they
receive?" he said.
Another Palestinian intellectual, Jafar Farah, director of the
Haifa-based advocacy NGO, Mosawa (meaning "equality" in Arabic), said he
wouldn't be surprised if the proposed law passed given the racist
climate in Israel today. "The ongoing efforts of extremists in the
government to complicate the Middle East conflict with confrontations
with our community are alarming. Thoughts and feelings will soon be
forbidden in Israel. It reminds me of McCarthyism in the United States.
It is about time to show the leaders of the extreme right wing how
humanity treats civilians."
In recent years, Israeli governments sought to counter Palestinian
insistence on the right of return with demands that Palestinians should
recognise Israel as a "Jewish state" and more recently as "the State of
Jews." Many Palestinian intellectuals view the worrying demands as a
mere euphemism for undeclared Israeli designs to ethnically cleanse
Israel's large Palestinian minority.
Israeli officials deny that such designs exist, repeating the mantra
that Israel is both a Jewish and democratic state. However, when pressed
on the matter, nearly all Israeli leaders, leftist and rightist alike,
readily admit that should there be a serious collision between the
"Jewish" and "democratic" components of Israel, the "Jewish" component
would always come first.
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