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Voices from the diaspora: What does Nakba mean to you?

During Nakba Day on Thursday, Palestinians in the diaspora told the Middle East Eye in their own words what the Nakba means to them
Palestinians around the world commemorate the 66th anniversary of the Nakba on Thursday (AA)

Talal Alyan, New York, the United States: “The annual commemoration of the Nakba has come to symbolize the inception of the Palestinian tragedy.

Although it is largely regarded as a historic event, the Nakba is not solely a reflection on a contained period of cruelty from the past. It is ongoing. It is the over 13,000 new settlement units approved during a nine-month long series of peace negotiations. It is the hundred of attacks withstood by Palestinians at the hands of settlers. It is the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. It is the countless dead and dying, the thousands maimed and tortured. It is the constant humiliation from Israeli soldiers endured daily at checkpoints, businesses and privates homes.

The commemoration of the Nakba is not only a mourning of the past; it is also an expression of indignation over the present.” 

Palestinian women gather to mark Nakba day on Thursday (AA)

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Yasir Tineh, Kuwait:  “The Nakba is a home demolished, tight alleyways in refugee camps, and more borders than you can ever imagine.

It is diasporas with separate tongues and different thoughts. It is illusions of near freedom, sadness that is not really felt, and frustration that's become cynicism. That is the Nakba. It is an address not a date. It is where I've directed my belonging, my innate nostalgia. My foolish romanticism. It is to have lived away. To feel pain knowing that the woman who gave birth to me has not stepped foot in her homeland.

It is every separate story. The different paths of refuge and agony. The broken dreams, the lost art. It is a responsibility to remember.” 

Farah Saeed, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada:  “The Nakba, to me, means the endless hope to return to a land that has experienced terror, and countless and continuous loss. It is the hope that one day the keys to our former homes will finally unlock the doors to our homes which we were kicked out of, or escaped from; thinking it would only be a few days before we return. Days turned into months into years and we remain in exile and far away from our homes.

It is the hundreds of olive trees that are as old as my grandparents that were burnt by European Jewish settlers.

The Nakba to me is a reminder that no matter how young we may be or how old we get we will never forget nor stop the struggle to liberate our land. The Nakba means that our memory remains undimmed, there to remind the world that we will continue until the last frontier.” 

Sami Kishawi, Chicago, Illinois, the US: “The Nakba, to me, is a reminder of how far we as a community of conscience have strayed from protecting the human and civil rights of those around us.

The Nakba continues today and with each passing day, I become more resolute in my conviction to resist oppression, exploitation, and ethnic cleansing however and wherever it may occur, especially in my native Palestine. Ultimately, the Nakba will serve to be one of humanity's darkest chapters, but I am confident that Palestinians will overcome.”

Mariam Barghouthi, Ramallah, Palestine: “While the world commemorates the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians one day a year, and Israel celebrates it as its independence victory, and the Palestinian Authority plays it out as a festival and a joyful memory the Nakba is ongoing.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is not part of history, it's part of today. The colonisation is not a story to be told, it's a struggle being fought. We have been divided by Israel and continue to be attacked on a daily basis. Our land is being stolen with collaboration with the Palestinian Authority, our people driven out into the diaspora, our resistors killed, our resources are being raped by imperialistic colonizers and we still make it seem like the Nakba is a memory.

It's a vicious cycle and if we continue to treat it as part of yesterday opposed to the reality that is today Palestinians and the world is doomed.” 

Dina Omar, Ramoun, Palestine: "For me, the Nakba is not marked by a particular date for the annual remembrance and moralization of the calamity that ensued in 1948. Rather, the Nakba is the weight of history that three generations of Palestinians carry with them daily. The Nakba is why for Palestinian children, keys resemble axes. The Nakba is the truth bellowing beneath the infrastructure of lies seeking to render it non-existent. The Nakba is the loudest silence our world as ever known, and it is not only Palestinian but Native American, Aboriginal, and all indigenous people whose lives alone subvert the colonial apparatuses that seek to erase them. The Nakba is the ghost of veracity that will forever haunt every Israeli Zionist no matter how much they attempt to pretend it never took place.

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