My name is Assala Sayara, I was born in Palestine and migrated to Australia in 2001. Being Palestinian, I like all of us today have the responsibility of raising awareness on the plight of the Palestinian people, what has happened in our history and what continues to happen as you read these words.
Too many, remain ignorant of the catastrophe that befell our people 69 years ago. The Nakba, or ‘catastrophe’ in English is a term of passivity. It talks about a disaster, and indeed what happened in 1948 is a disaster, but really that term doesn’t even scratch the surface.
When a person hears the word disaster, it is not usually associated with fault, or blame, it’s not necessarily a deliberate act, just something that has happened. However, the Nakba of 1948 was not a blameless, faultless disaster. It was deliberate. A calculated inhumane act, with countless innocent victims and countless life-altering repercussions. What happened in 1948 was a crime against humanity, committed by criminals and we all know who those criminals are. Though we sometimes avoid naming them, sadly we are far more quick to name the victims, than condemn the perpetrators in the interest of being politically correct. Yes, we sometimes, say, the British, Israelis, Zionists, however its far more complex than just that, because it was a collection of all three. But don’t take my word for it, do your own research and find the truth of how the catastrophe came to be the Palestinian reality.
The Nakba was well orchestrated long before 1948. It caused the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of many Palestinians from their beloved villages to create a so-called ‘Jewish homeland’. The fictitious spin that is put on the ‘catastrophe’ is that Palestine is a land without people ‘netra nullius’. This spin is still promoted today as mind numbing propaganda to somehow justify the theft, the massacres, the displacement of over 70000 original inhabitants of the land, who are unquestionably the Indigenous People of Palestine.
The main military forces that conquered Palestine were the Haganah and its “elite striking force” — the Palmach. It is important to say Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organisation in the British Mandate of Palestine, which became the core of the Israel Defense Forces. The repercussions of this brutality is more evident than ever before on my most recent trip to Palestine.
Through only a few weeks of volunteer work in Nablus, I gained much more insight into the ongoing effects endured by so many of my people today. One particular example is the Balata refugee camp, one of many camps in the occupied Palestinian territories, that I visited during my time there. The Balata refugee camp is densely populated with over 30,000 residents, that are crammed together in only 2.5 square kilometres of dilapidated land. The majority of the population were originally from villages that were stolen and occupied during, and after the 1948 NAKBA. I mention Balata as a reminder to never forget the perpetrators who inflicted this poor quality of life on the Palestinians. Whilst they struggle for survival in matchbox concrete buildings or reinforced tents they are tortured by the view of Israeli settlers residing in their stolen homes. One who denies the occurrence of the Nakba, is one who is blind and ignorant to the truth. To deny the Nakba is like denying the Nazi genocide in Europe. However, unlike the Holocaust, the Nakba continues.
Golda Meir an Israeli teacher and an elected Minister once stated,
Whom they are..??
They never Existed
Unfortunately, this quote is still a reflection of the thoughts of many people today. Many vainly hoping that Palestinians will forget what has happened. The fact that Palestinians continue to exist and resist through non-violent means serves as a constant reminder to the world.
There is a responsibility for today’s youth to remind our communities, that regardless of your age or situation never to be deterred and to always seek opportunities that facilitate resistance and awareness of Palestinian history. Parents must encourage their children and support them in advocating resistance through as many avenues as they can. My own parents and their support in the field of resistance has allowed me to strive for the Palestinian cause.
Although the atrocities of the Nakba can never be reversed and nothing that has passed can be changed, the right that still remains to us is the right of return. This right, is a right Palestinians will never compromise, a right still neglected despite being recognised by UN International law. Many Palestinians still cling to their treasured keys, keys to stolen homes which remind them that hope remains and what was taken will never be forgotten. The key symbolising the Palestinian right of return, symbolising the homes they once lived in, the homes in which cherished memories were made, the homes in which families were built and stories exchanged, the homes they will no doubt return to one day.
Palestinians all around the world today, don’t simply commemorate the 69th Nakba of the Palestinians people, they also celebrate. They celebrate 69 years of resistance and perseverance; 69 years of struggle. I like to think of my people as stubborn and patient. Patient, because we have suffered for over 69 years and continue to suffer. Stubborn, because no matter what we are put through we refuse to yield to our oppressors. We refuse to let go of our dignity. And we will continue to resist, and we will continue to celebrate our resistance for as long as there is air in our lungs and Palestine in our hearts.