‘If I had to choose between the wealth of the world and going home, I would go back’

Palestinian filmaker Wafaa Aburahama packs a lot into this stirring 8 minute Nakba film, intertwining emotional testimony and educational narration and imagery. Halfway through is footage of refugee camps showing actual conditions inside these supposedly temporary communities. 

The testimony of centenarian Naifeh Abu Ayadah beginning at 5:25 ensures this little video will be viewed long into the future.

We were happy back then, our land was really beautiful and had big fortune. When you see our homeland you cry because of being away. If I had to choose between the wealth of the world and going back home I would go back to smell it. One grain of sand is better than all the money. If they ask me to go back I will crawl only to see it.

Aburahama is a refugee living in Gaza. An English language lecturer and translator, she is originally from Aqer village, Palestine.

(Hat tip Mondoweiss contributor Yousef M. Aljamal)

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 17 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Citizen says:

    Germany should be giving its nuclear-capable subs to the Palestinians, not to Israel?
    And the US should support Germany in this switch?

  2. gingershot says:

    There’s a fascinating article up at Haaretz regarding Ben Gurion’s attempts to disguise the Nakba because he knew it was catastrophic to the Jewish narrative.

    ‘Catastrophic Thinking – did Ben Gurion try to Rewrite History?’

    “By the end of the 1950s, Ben-Gurion had reached the conclusion that the events of 1948 would be at the forefront of Israel’s diplomatic struggle, in particular the struggle against the Palestinian national movement. If the Palestinians had been expelled from their land, as they had maintained already in 1948, the international community would view their claim to return to their homeland as justified. However, Ben-Gurion believed, if it turned out that they had left “by choice,” having been persuaded by their leaders that it was best to depart temporarily and return after the Arab victory, the world community would be less supportive of their claim”

    link to haaretz.com

    • tree says:

      Thanks for that link, gingershot. A long but fascinating piece. I found two tidbits especially interesting. One, that Israel has recently reclassified many documents from that era that had been previously released, and that most documents were never declassified.

      The Israeli censor’s observant eye had missed file number GL-18/17028 in the State Archives. Most files relating to the 1948 Palestinian exodus remain sealed in the Israeli archives, despite the fact that their period as classified files − according to Israeli law − expired long ago. Even files that were previously declassified are no longer available to researchers. In the past two decades, following the powerful reverberations triggered by the publication of books written by those dubbed the “New Historians,” the Israeli archives revoked access to much of the explosive material. Archived Israeli documents that reported the expulsion of Palestinians, massacres or rapes perpetrated by Israeli soldiers, along with other events considered embarrassing by the establishment, were reclassified as “top secret.” Researchers who sought to track down the files cited in books by Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim or Tom Segev often hit a dead end. Hence the surprise that file GL-18/17028, titled “The Flight in 1948” is still available today.

      And the other is that the Kennedy Administration was placing pressure on Israel to allow return of hundreds of thousands of refugees.

      Contemporaries who had ties to the government or the armed forces obviously knew that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had been expelled and their return was blocked already during the war. They understood that this must be kept a closely guarded secret. In 1961, after John F. Kennedy assumed office as president of the United States, calls for the return of some of the Palestinian refugees increased. Under the guidance of the new president, the U.S. State Department tried to force Israel to allow several hundred thousand refugees to return. In 1949, Israel had agreed to consider allowing about 100,000 refugees to return, in exchange for a comprehensive peace agreement with the Arab states, but by the early 1960s that was no longer on the agenda as far as Israel was concerned. Israel was willing to discuss the return of some 20,000-30,000 refugees at most.

      As for Ben-Gurion, I suspect he was a pathological liar. Anyone who would go on national television and baldly lie that absolutely no Israeli military personnel were involved in the Qibya massacre would be capable of lying about everything and anything.

    • Cliff says:

      Good article.

      The hasbarists in the comments section predictably dismiss or ignore the article’s findings.

    • Sumud says:

      Very interesting gingershot.

      Though I think Ben Gurion was wrong about 1948. The critical thing is not whether Palestinian refugees were expelled or advised by their leaders to flee, but the fact that Israel refuses to let them return…

      • seafoid says:

        “the fact that Israel refuses to let them return…”

        the refugees represent Israel’s decency.
        It is also refused entry at Ben Gurion.

    • seafoid says:

      if it turned out that they had left “by choice,” having been persuaded by their leaders that it was best to depart temporarily and return after the Arab victory, the world community would be less supportive of their claim”

      If they had left it at that in 1967 maybe it would have worked. But they couldn’t stop humping the table leg one more time and invading the West Bank.

      When Zionism collapses 1948 will be back on the agenda.

    • a blah chick says:

      Is there a chance that this one file being overlooked was done deliberately?

  3. MHughes976 says:

    Part of normal human rights in connection with a home or a homeland is that you can leave it when you see fit without explaining yourself to anyone. That’s part of the difference between a home and a prison, freedom and serfdom. Leaving home because it has become part of a war zone is acting with reasonably good reason, wouldn’t you say? A lot of people did that during WW2 and it wasn’t regarded as giving the Nazis a greater right to their conquests. Ben Gurion’s propaganda was no doubt brilliant but then he told people in the West what they wanted to hear.

    • homingpigeon says:

      Sumud and Hughs bring up an example of the hasbara technique which sucks in lots of people in the debate …. the Zionists are great at throwing out factoids which are wrong on the one hand but irrelevant on the other. We are vulnerable to getting sucked into arguing the facts and forget about the irrelevance. We find ourselves arguing about whether the name Palestine was imposed by the Romans or first used by Herodatus five centuries earlier, whether or not the Balfour Declaration intended to include Trans-Jordan, when the Palestinians became a “people” and so on. Sometimes I am tempted to try the same technique and claim that the Palestinians domesticated the donkey first.

      • MHughes976 says:

        It’s very true that human rights don’t come from ancient history. On the other hand Historical Connections have been made into an extraordinarily important element of the argument by all sorts of people, Obama included.

  4. The head of Hamas is interviewed today at foreignpolicy.com.

    Why he broke with Syrian gov’t.
    Why Hamas wants Israel out of West Bank.

  5. Inanna says:

    Great to see Palestinians making the point that the right to return home is central and will not be given up.

  6. American says:

    Related.

    link to thenational.ae

    Palestinian activists sue Israel for the return of 6,000

    In December 1948, eight months after the start of the war that created Israel, Khalil Beidas locked the door to his Jerusalem home’s library, a three-metre-high, floor-to-ceiling collection of more than 6,000 books that had been his most prized asset.

    The 75-year-old prominent Palestinian intellectual then escaped to Lebanon, where he died less than a year later – partly, his grandson says, because of the emotional pain from the loss of his library.

    Amid the battles in Jerusalem, Hagop Melikian, an Armenia-born Palestinian businessman, also fled along with his wife from their apartment. He left a private library with dozens of books, including a German-translated complete set of Shakespeare plays and a 19th-century German encyclopaedia, through which he would not flip again. The tens of thousands of books owned before the war by wealthy Palestinian families like those of Beidas and Melikian is only a sliver of what Palestinians lost when they were forced to flee what is now Israel’

    Read more: link to thenational.ae
    Follow us: @TheNationalUAE on Twitter | thenational.ae on Facebook