The Nakba after 71 Years: A Day of Paradox for Palestinians--To Mourn and Hope all in One Day
By: Leila Diab/ Arab America Contributing Writer
We are captives, even if our wheat grows over fences
And the swallows rise from our broken chains.
We are captives of what we love, what we desire and what we are.
-Mahmoud Darwish (Palestinian Poet)
Around the world, many countries celebrate a singular day their people stood up against tyranny and achieved independence from such an inhumane rule. Unfortunately, millions of Palestinians on May 15th come together to do the exact opposite.
Yawm an-Nakba (the day of catastrophe) is the name given to May 15th, 1948 by history. While Israel celebrates on the same day their establishment, the indigenous people of Palestine mourn the loss of their homeland thus beginning decades of the endless catastrophic siege of violence, illegal wars against Palestinian humanity, and unabated human rights violations.
Against all the odds, Palestinians sing, dance the debke and play the flute (al-nay) as a way to cope and re-energize their determination to return to their Palestine homeland. Regardless of being in the clutches of cruelty for 69 years, the people have not abandoned the goal to one-day return to their homeland free of worry and strife. As the sun rises and sets over the Mediterranean waters and hills of the occupied territories of Palestine and the Gaza Strip, the commemoration of Yawm an-Nakba or Nakba Day provides an enduring light of hope.
Palestinians have created fond memories of joyful celebrations in their home away from home by hosting feasts for loved ones while being in the comfort of their blooming gardens that mimic their homeland. The women dress up in hand embroidered village dresses, with a sense of cultural pride and identity because their existence for generations will not be erased.
Today’s world community of peace seekers, from all walks of life, diligently speak for the overwhelming sea of Palestinians, whose suffering must come to a historical end. Palestinians have no right to water reserves, fish beyond an imposed Israeli military defense sea border, trapped behind miles of a cement wall and are imprisoned unjustly while being denied basic needs. Isn’t it a crime against humanity to be held without any trial or legitimate charges or to be forcibly removed from homes? It’s no mystery why thousands of Palestinians still hold on to the keys of their stolen homes.
In solidarity with those treated unjustly, Nakba Day calls upon people all over the world, Palestinians, and non-Palestinians, to wear the keffiyeh (a black and white scarf) and wave the Palestinian flag proudly. They demand as they bow their heads in a silent prayer for the release of a thousand Palestinian political prisoners now on hunger strikes. We must recognize them; especially, on a day that salutes and pays tribute to the endless list of Palestinians who have sacrificed their lives to free Palestine. Freedom fighters, such as Abu Jihad, Yasser Arafat, George Habash, Sameha Khalil, Ihsan Abdel Haddad, and legendary freedom fighter Said Shiker, will forever be remembered for all their sacrifices to secure a long-lasting peace and freedom for the people of Palestine.
May 15, 1948, is a day that will exist until the end of time and will frequently serve as a reminder that the Palestinian quest for freedom is a worthy cause! As time shows, the Palestinians will not be silenced and the truth will set them free.