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Our Nakba and their Independence

Opinion
on 12 Comments

The anniversary of the Nakba comes every May. But we, the Palestinians of 1948, live in memory of the Nakba in different circumstances than all other Palestinians. Here from within Israel, we can hear the sirens declare the beginning of the celebration observed by those who occupied us while we are still deeply rooted inside of our homeland. We suffer because we feel alienated in our own country, we shout and scream and no one hears us.

Israel’s Independence Day is marked on May 9 this year, the holiday follows the Hebrew calendar. Israelis celebrate 71 years of independence with picnics, parties, and fireworks. Yet Palestinians, we mourn this day as our Nakba, or catastrophe in Arabic, the start of  an ethnic cleaning, the destruction of our villages, and the creation of a refugee population. While international law regards Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands as only the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, many Palestinian citizens of Israel like myself regard ourselves as also living under occupation. Indeed, at the close of the 1948 war, Palestinian citizens of Israel lived under formal military occupation inside of Israel for two decades.

Khadra Ibrahim holds up her refugee documents. Ibrahim was born in Khan al-Sheikh refugee camp in Syria several years after the Nakba. Baharka is her fourth refugee camp. “All the Palestinian here are tired,” she says. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

Israel’s establishment occurred with the destruction of 531 Palestinian villages by Zionist militias and the early Israeli Defense Forces. In the Acre area, 30 villages were destroyed, 64 villages in Ramla district, 31 villages in Bisan, 88 villages near Beer Sheva 88 village, 46 villages in Gaza, 59 by Haifa, 16 in the Hebron are, 25 around Jaffa, 39 near Jerusalem, six by Jenin, five by Nazareth, 78 outside of Safad, 26 by Tiberias, and 18 in the Tulkarem area.

It is understandable then that another anniversary of the Nakba is commemorated as an anniversary of uprooting, displacement, terrorism and ethnic cleansing. It is 71 years of suffering, displacement and in the world and 71 years of international condemnation without a result. The Palestinian people are still one of a few people who lives as refugees in their homeland. There has been 71 years of deprived rights where our land was settled mostly by people who came from all over the world, claiming that Palestine was vacant in the 20th century slogan, “A land without a people for a people without a land.”

In memory of the Nakba …

Israelis celebrate their Independence Day, but it comes with celebrating the suffering of our ancestors, the displacement of our people and the memory of the massacres perpetrated against us over the years.

This victory that is celebrated is at the cost of what the Zionist movement did in what it calls its War of Independence: Zionist militias and later the IDF carried out around 70 massacres, in which around 15 thousands Palestinians were killed, and destroyed some 531 towns. More than 6,000 Israelis were killed in the fighting. In present day, just over the last weekend Israeli forces killed 24 in Gaza, and Palestinians killed 4 Israelis.

To date, all of Israel’s war have created a Palestinians refugee population of 7 million.

Celebrating Israel’s independence means celebrating Palestinians who have been imprisoned. From 1967 to today, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reports Israel has at some point detained around one million Palestinians. From 1948 to today, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics calculates 100,000 Palestinians and other Arabs have been killed in the context of the conflict with Israel, including 20,000 killed in wars in Lebanon.

And, there is no talk of the number of trees that were killed since the Nakba in 1948 until today. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimates around one million trees on lands owned by Palestinians were uprooted since the year 2000.

The memory of the Nakba …

We salute it with our tears and suppress our pains and our sins. We salute it on the same day that Israelis commemorate the establishment of their state. Starting from the ashes of the Nakba to the battle to stay on our land in order to preserve our heritage and identity, and to confront a series of authoritarian and racist laws.

The day of their independence, the day of our Nakba, oh, how hard and deadly are the day. We walk through the streets of our towns and see the new Israeli banners decorated everywhere, on our schools, our streets, on cars and gas stations … we are tired of this life and we are killed everyday, a thousand times as the Israelis wave blue and white flags. When we look at them, they remind us of our martyrs, remind us of our prisoners behind bars.

We commemorate the homes of our destroyed ancestors, we commemorate the Nakba with a march of return and visits to our desolate towns, we send messages of longing to displaced refugees who are waiting to return. We renew their loyalty and visit their destroyed villages. We wander on the soil of our towns and sit on the remaining stones of the rubble of houses that once stood there. We suffer in silence and pride and remain, despite freedom being only a dream.

Dareen Tatour

Dareen Tatour is a poet, photographer, social media activist and Palestinian citizen of Israel from Reineh. Dareen spent nearly three years jailed and under house arrest. She was convicted in May 2018 on charges of incitement and support for terror organizations after she published her poem “Resist, My People, Resist Them” on social media.

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12 Responses

  1. Citizen on May 10, 2019, 1:48 pm

    I would guess 99% of Americans never heard the word Nakba. They would have all heard the word Holocaust. So, now what?

    PS, they would not know that the word “genocide” was coined to refer to the Turkish massacre of Armenians. They think the word refers to Jewish deaths.

  2. Boris on May 10, 2019, 4:28 pm

    The caption under the photo says “Palestinians flee from Gaza’s beaches onto boats during the Palestinian nakba, 1949. ”

    Beside seeing a rich fat guy with 2 suitcases being carried to a boat while everybody else stays on a beach, Gaza??? 1949???

    Was not Gaza occupied by Egypt in 1949? So, is this reason this is being called nakba with a low case letter vs. the other Nakba?

    • Misterioso on May 12, 2019, 6:54 pm

      @boris

      Obviously, a typo. The photo’s caption’ should read: “Palestinians flee from Jaffa’s beaches onto boats during the Palestinian nakba, 1948” (BTW, similar events previously occurred in Haifa in early April.)

      Speaking of Jaffa:
      On April 25/48, in the early morning, the Zionist offensive against Jaffa began with a massive indiscriminate mortar bombardment throughout the city. The mortars were launched from the centre of Tel Aviv and the nearby Jewish settlement of Bat Yam by the Irgunists. A few weeks earlier they had raided a British camp, killed a sentry, and captured a large number of 3 inch mortars which had a much greater range and were more powerful than their Davidika version.

      During every daylight hour, for nearly four full days, dozens of mortar shells exploded all over Jaffa’s commercial and residential districts. Civilians were overcome with fear and hysteria and thousands wanted desperately to get out. As Sir Henry Gurney, the British Chief Secretary of the Palestine government wrote in his diary at the time: “The Irgun mortar attack was indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets and was designed to create panic among the population.” (Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe, p. 89)

      Armed only with pistols, old rifles and some British 45 calibre tommy-guns, Jaffa’s defenders were unable to effectively return fire without mortars or artillery. So desperate to strike back, they even tried to find a way to use the ancient Turkish Ramadan cannon that was fired at sunset to let Muslims know they could break their fast. They were also plagued by the fact that much of their ammunition was useless. It was surplus British stock buried in the Egyptian desert at El Alamein after the war and then brought in by boat.

      With Jaffa cut off from the rest of Palestine by advancing Jewish forces who controlled the Jerusalem highway, civilians could only escape the relentless mortar barrage by sea. Shell-shocked and panic stricken, thousands of them jammed the port looking for any type of craft (even row boats) that could take them to Gaza or Lebanon and while they waited, many were cold-bloodedly murdered by Irgun snipers.

      Scores of those who managed to get on the overcrowded boats, yachts, and other vessels, fell overboard and drowned. Iris Shammout, who was then 12 years of age, recalled the scene vividly. “‘… bullets went through the bodies of people standing by the seashore…. Women and children were weeping and screaming’ as they filed into small boats in an effort to reach a Greek steamship that they hoped would take them to safety. Many people drowned because the tiny fishing vessels could not hold the multitude. Babies fell overboard and mothers were forced to choose which ones to save. The Shammouts were luckier than most since all members of the family were able to get aboard the Greek vessel which eventually reached Beirut. But many of those who attempted to sail to Gaza or Beirut in small boats were lost at sea. Their bodies were washed up along the coast of Palestine.” (Palumbo, pp. 89-90)

      These horrendous events were witnessed by British observers in the harbour. They noted in their reports that as had occurred in Haifa, “[r]efugees [were] fired on by Jewish snipers as they moved off.” (Palumbo, p. 90)

      On April 25, the Irgun attacked Manshiyya, the Jaffa neighbourhood that extended like a bottle neck along the sea into Tel Aviv. The Irgun hoped to cut it off from the rest of the city and assembled a force of about 600 men well supplied with arms, ammunition and mortars. Despite their greater numbers, the city’s defenders managed to push them back, but only after they had destroyed dozens of Arab homes.

      During the morning of April 27, with the Haganah providing additional mortar and small arms support, the Irgunists again attacked Manshiyya using explosives and barrel bombs. They blew up row upon row of dwellings and forced those Arab civilians still alive to run for their lives to the sea. By the morning of the 28th the Irgun managed to reach the sea and Manshiyya was cut off from the rest of Jaffa.

      Immediately after they occupied Manshiyya the Irgun ransacked and plundered Arab homes and businesses. To quote Zionist historian, Jon Kimche: “Everything that was moveable was carried off from Jaffa – furniture, carpets, pictures, crockery and pottery, Jewellery and cutlery. The occupied part of Jaffa [Manshiyya] was stripped…what could not be taken away was smashed. Windows, pianos, fittings and lamps went in an orgy of destruction.” (“Deir Yassin and Jaffa, April, 1948,” Seven Fallen Pillars: the Middle East 1915-1950)

      The Irgun’s pillaging and deliberate destruction of homes and businesses in Manshiyya together with the massive flight of Jaffa’s Arabs by sea caused the British, who were fearful of another Haifa debacle and its repercussions at Whitehall, to intervene militarily. On the 29th they shelled Irgun headquarters near Tel Aviv and fired on those Irgunists occupying Manshiyya, forcing them to pull out. But the British then handed Manshiyya over to the Jews by agreeing to patrol it jointly with the Haganah until the Mandate ended.

      On April 29, Haganah/Irgun units commenced Plant Dalet’s Operation Chamtez to first isolate and then capture Jaffa while avoiding conflict with British forces. They occupied the Arab villages of Tal al- Rish, Saqiyah, Salameh, Abu Kabir and al-Khairiyya that surrounded Jaffa and expelled more than 5000 inhabitants. On the same day, the British forced the Haganah to open the Jaffa-Jerusalem highway and as a result the civilian exodus exploded.

      Jaffa’s inhabitants knew their city would soon be in the hands of the Jews, so when the opportunity came to escape by land without coming under mortar fire, thousands took it despite appeals by the local Arab National Committee for them to stay. In a state of terror, a sea of refugees began fleeing the city in assorted vehicles heading for Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron, and Jordan. By April 30, more than eighty percent of Jaffa’s population had fled.

      The British commander at Jaffa, General Sir Horatius Murray witnessed the exodus: “I saw a scene which I never thought to see in my life. It was the sight of the whole population of Jaffa pouring out on to the road carrying in their hands whatever they could pick up. [They were heading south] as fast as their legs could carry them. It was a case of sheer terror…” (Palumbo, p. 87)

      On May 10, the Haganah entered Jaffa, which according to the British Commander, General Murray was like a ghost town: “It was as if a pied piper had been there. There wasn’t a soul. Gas stoves were still burning in the houses, the shops were full of goods, and the houses had obviously been left in a great hurry…. [It was] a city of the dead.” (Palumbo, p. 88)
      Jaffa was a very wealthy city. Its stores were full of all manner of merchandise and there were many beautiful homes containing all sorts of treasure, including fine furniture, jewellery, works of art and rare carpets. Within hours, Jewish troops were roaming everywhere looting and pillaging at will while their officers looked the other way and many shared in the spoils.

      Yosef Yaakobson, later an advisor to the Israel Ministry of Defence, told Ben-Gurion at the time that “…the army was removing goods from Jaffa property estimated at 30,000 pounds [then $120,000 U.S.] daily.” (Tom Segev, 1949, The First Israelis; 1986 p. 73.)
      Once again, as in Tiberias and Haifa and throughout the country, Jaffa’s Christian churches were desecrated and looted. Father Deleque, a Catholic priest described one such incident: “‘Jewish soldiers broke down the doors of my church and robbed many precious and sacred objects. Then they threw the statues of Christ down into a nearby garden.’ The Jewish soldiers laughed at the priest and ignored his protests. The cleric complained that Jewish leaders gave reassurances about respect of religious buildings ‘but their deeds do not correspond to their words.’” (Palumbo, p. 91)

      Along with their conquest of Jaffa and its environs, the Zionists seized all of the Arab-owned orchards, thereby taking control of one hundred per cent of Palestine’s fruit exporting industry which was worth $billions.

      They also plundered the city’s several financial institutions: The Barclay Bank, the Ottoman Bank, the Arab Bank, the Islamic Bank, the Italian Bank and the German Bank.

      As Jaffa was the centre of the fruit exporting industry, Palestine’s main source of foreign earnings, vast sums were deposited and kept in its banks. As had happened in Haifa, most of Jaffa’s Arabs were unable to gain access to banks in order to withdraw funds before they fled.

      Once the Irgun’s mortar bombardment began the streets were too unsafe for people to move about or banks to remain open. As a result, great numbers of individual and business bank accounts overflowing with deposits fell into the hands of the Jewish Agency.

      No precise figures are available, but Haifa’s banks were relieved of 1.5 billion pounds [$6 billion U.S.], so it is safe to assume that those in Jaffa had at least the same amount in deposits and probably much more. It is impossible to estimate how much in jewellery, foreign currencies and assorted valuables were stolen, but it must have been an immense sum as Palestine’s wealthiest families lived in Jaffa district.

  3. Jackdaw on May 11, 2019, 2:11 am

    ” the IDF carried out around 70 massacres, in which around 15 thousands Palestinians were killed ”

    Now you are lying, Dareen. You may want to edit this remark.

    First lie.
    Between nine and twelve thousand Palestinians died over the course of the War of Independence. That’s about 1% of the population. Around 6,600 Jew died, also about 1% of the Jewish population. So, despite the mass flight of the Arab population, equal proportions of combatants were killed.

    Milstein, Uri. ‘History of Israel’s War of Independence’, 4 vols. out of 12 projected, 1996–1999. University Press of America

    Second lie.
    Civilians die in wartime. One thousand Jewish civilians died BEFORE the Arab States invaded, and some were massacred, like at Gush Etzion and at the Haifa oil refinery. Not all were massacred. Only a small number were massacred. Similarly a small number of Arabs were massacred of the 15,000 you falsely allege.

    Dareen. You were educated in Israel and you read and write Hebrew and the accurate figure and sources at within your grasp. You don’t have to lie. BTW, were are your sources regarding 15,000 massacred Arabs? Benny Morris puts the number at 800.
    Your provide sources, please, or edit your remarks.

    And as a matter of history, how did the Tatour family manage to survive and avoid expulsion?

    • bcg on May 11, 2019, 6:34 pm

      @Jackdaw: I’m looking at “Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State” by Josh Ruebner, page 40:

      “Months before neighboring Arab countries went to war with the newly established State of Israel in May 1948, Zionist militias began this ethnic cleansing campaign under the watchful eyes of the departing British, forcibly expelling approximately 250,000 Palestinians. Palestinians also fled in terror from advancing Zionist militias, especially after the massacre and mutilation of more than 100 Palestinian civilians killed by the Irgun militia in Deir Yassin, a village near Jerusalem, in April 1948, one of dozens of such atrocities committed first by Zionist militias and later by the Israeli military after the state’s establishment. ” (He lists sources)

      But just between you and me, Jackdaw, I’m tired of playing History Blame. What’s the endgame? I can see only three broad outcomes: one state with equal rights, two (real) states, or some sort of apartheid arrangement. It seems to me that the expansion of the settlements and continuous drip of ethnic cleansing has pretty much indicated what the Israeli government wants.

      • Jackdaw on May 12, 2019, 12:41 am

        @bcg

        There is a fourth outcome, you don’t see.

        It involves telling the truth. Dareen lied, and I told the truth.

        You yourself just lied when you said that, “forcibly expelling approximately 250,000 Palestinians. ‘

        Many, if not most Arabs fled the battle zone out of fear, same as civilians do in all conflicts. Some Arabs were ordered to evacuate by order of the Arab high command.
        Fleeing an advancing force out of fear of a massacre, is not the same as a ‘forcible expulsion’.
        BTW, the Hadassah Hospital convoy massacre was a revenge attack for Deir Yassin. Sixty Jews died in that attack, under British eyes.

        Josh Ruebner’s claim of ‘ethnic cleansing’ is bulls**t.
        Plan Dalet, was an improvised, limited and conditional battle plan to empty hostile or strategically located Arab villages along the contested Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road.
        Later on, during the course of the war and after the armies of the Arab States invaded, Plan D was used to justify emptying Arab villages in places other than the Jerusalem road.

        Oh, and BTW, did the invading Arab armies have war plans that included ethnically cleansing Jews?

        bcg?

        We do know that just before the Arab armies invaded, the Jordanian Legion, under command of British officers, massacred Jews at Gush Etzion.

        bcg?

        bcg?

      • Misterioso on May 12, 2019, 6:31 pm

        @Jackdaw

        To be brief:
        In 2004, when asked by Ha’aretz journalist, Ari Shavit, what new information his just completed revised version of The Birth of the Palestinian Problem 1947-1949 would provide, Israeli historian Benny Morris replied: “It is based on many documents that were not available to me when I wrote the original book, most of them from the Israel Defense Forces Archives. What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.” (Haaretz, January 9, 2004)

        Setting aside the slaughter at Deir Yassin and many other massacres committed by Jewish forces, here’s a glimpse of one that has received scant attention in western media:

        THE MASSACRE AT Al-DAWAYIMA
        On October 28/48, as part of Operation Yoav, the prosperous and mainly agricultural Palestinian village of al-Dawayima was captured “without a fight” by the 89th Commando Battalion of the Israel Defence Forces’ 8th Brigade. An Israeli soldier eyewitness described what then happened: “‘[First the IDF] killed about 80-100 [male] Arabs, women and children. The children they killed by breaking their heads with sticks. There was not a house without dead. The remaining Arabs were then closed off in houses ‘without food and water,’ as the village was systematically razed. ‘One commander ordered a sapper to put two old women in a certain house…and to blow up the house with them. The sapper refused…. The commander then ordered his men to put in the old women and the evil deed was done. One soldier boasted that he had raped a woman and then shot her. One woman with a new-born baby in her arms was employed to clear the courtyard where the soldiers ate. She worked a day or two. In the end they shot her and her baby.'” (Benny Morris, Birth of The Palestinian Problem, pp. 222-23)

        During the war Israel seized 78% of Palestine (22% more than proposed by the recommendatory only UNGA Partition Plan, Resolution 181, including large portions of the proposed Palestinian state, e.g., Jaffa and Acre.) After driving out about 400,000 between late 1947 and 15 May 1948, Jewish Zionists of foreign origin expelled 400,000 more Palestinians for a total of about 800,000 (according to Walter Eytan, then Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry) and went on to destroy over 500 of their towns and villages, including churches, mosques and cemeteries. It was only the beginning of the Zionist’s conquest of Palestine and the expulsion of its indigenous Arab inhabitants. By June, 1967, about 1,200,000 had been dispossessed and driven out.

        BTW, the repeated assertion by Israel’s leaders and other Zionists that Palestinians fled their homes and properties in 1948 because they were told to do so by Arab leaders to make way for incoming Arab armies has long-since been debunked. To quote John H. Davis, who served as Commission-General of UNRWA at the time: “An exhaustive examination of the minutes, resolutions, and press releases of the Arab League, of the files of leading Arabic newspapers, of day-to-day monitoring of broadcasts from Arab capitals and secret Arab radio stations, failed to reveal a single reference, direct or indirect, to an order given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave. All the evidence is to the contrary; that the Arab authorities continuously exhorted the Palestinian Arabs not to leave the country…. Panic and bewilderment played decisive parts in the flight. But the extent to which the refugees were savagely driven out by the Israelis as part of a deliberate master-plan has been insufficiently recognized.” (John H. Davis, The Evasive Peace, London: Murray, 1968)

    • Jackdaw on May 13, 2019, 12:43 am

      @Misterioso

      Your deflection aside, the issue isn’t how many Arab were ordered to evacuate by the AHC, but whether Dareen lies when she says that 15,000 Palestinians were massacred.

      Well. Did she or didn’t she lie?

      *Misterioso suddenly finds more pressing things to do with his time*

  4. Jackdaw on May 12, 2019, 1:17 am

    Here’s a fun fact.

    If you’re willing to get your hands dirty and dig, you’ll find that
    Dareen’s hometown of Er Reinah, was once an ancient Jewish settlement.

    Evidence of a stone-vessel workshop had been found within the precincts of Er-Reinah village for the manufacture of stone vessels which typically appear alongside pottery vessels in the Second Temple period and were used in Jewish settlements.

    Stone vessels were used by Jews because stone vessels do not impart ritual impurity.

    http://www.hadashot-esi.org.il/report_detail_eng.aspx?id=2061&mag_id=119

  5. echinococcus on May 12, 2019, 2:27 am

    bcg

    Use your historical knowledge rather than your imagination:
    “I can see only three broad outcomes: one state with equal rights, two (real) states, or some sort of apartheid arrangement.”

    4. Complete genocide of the Palestinian people in Palestine,

    5. Palestine (like, say, ” Algeria” …)

    6. Nuclear winter

    Your first two, by the way, are not probable at all, while No. 6 is slightly less improbable than those. As for No. 3, it is already the officially established situation (and not an “outcome” any longer, ie since the first day of the Zionist state entity.)

    “the expansion of the settlements and continuous drip of ethnic cleansing has pretty much indicated what the Israeli government wants”
    Correct. It has indicated, stated, theorized, published and announced many times that it wants the total disappearance of the Palestinian people and even their memory. Nothing less.

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