The Nakba equipped me with a spirit born of catastrophe but destined for triumph

Guest contribution by Deanna Othman

May 15 marks the 66th anniversary of al-Nakba or “The Catastrophe,” the day that led to the systematic dispossession of two-thirds of the Palestinian population — exiled from their homes, bereft of their property, land, and dignity. This day, with the creation of the state of Israel, came the creation of the Palestinian refugee crisis. The creation of a nation on the land of another nation, with people forcibly removed from their villages — villages that would be expunged from the map, but not from the memories of those who inhabited them.

Yes, with Israeli Independence Day came celebration and mourning. One people’s celebration led to another’s degradation. Humiliation. Deprivation.

According to the Institute for Middle East Understanding, as of 2008, more than 4 million Palestinian refugees were registered with the United Nations, and at least another estimated 1 million were not registered. Thus a majority of the Palestinian people, around 10 million persons, are refugees.

These refugees remain outside of a home that they are not allowed to return to — a home many have never known. [Read more...]

Gendering al-Nakba

Guest contribution by Bayan Abusneineh

May 15, 2014 marks the 66th year of al-Nakba, the Arabic word for catastrophe. Palestinians are united around the world through the collective memory of this date. This date to commemorates the displacement of over 750,000 Palestinians following the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. Since its declaration, the State of Israel has used Palestinian women’s bodies to execute blatantly racist imperial policies in an attempt to control the Palestinian land, people, and culture. These tactics of state violence aim to not only instill fear in the entire population – both men and women – but to destroy their bodies, their culture, and their humanity.

This piece places Palestinian women at the center of analysis to see how the State of Israel perpetuates both race-based and gender-based violence. Sexual violence cannot be confined to individual acts of rape, but rather how such violence encompasses a broad range of strategies to not only destroy Palestinian bodies, but to weaken the strength of their ties to their native land.[1] Similarly, the Israeli occupation is inscribed on the bodies of Palestinians, particularly those of Palestinian women. Histories of land confiscation, expulsion, and sexual exploitation by the Zionist settler-colonial project are marked on each of their bodies. [Read more...]

What do the words Nakba and Naksa really mean?

Guest contribution by Omar Chaaban

Perhaps there is some utility to maintaining the way the Palestinians choose to describe their collective experience. It is true that if one were to look at the literal superficial meaning of terms like Nakba and Naksa, one can only find unfortunate generalities that can obfuscate the experience that the Palestinians have had to endure for over 65 years. But, there is more to the words Nakba and Naksa and they do not merely mean ‘catastrophe’ and ‘setback’ as it is often referred to in non-Arabic literature.

Related read: The misuse of terminology in the Palestinian narrative is a failing coping mechanism.

The word Nakba in Arabic has very deep and powerful connotations that no word in English can fully grasp. For the Palestinian that found himself forced, at gunpoint, to leave his house and land, with his wife and large family, what happened to him is not simply a ‘catastrophe.’ It is an extremely powerful psychological experience that involved vicious uprooting from the land that his father, grandfather, and great grandfather have farmed for generations. It is an experience that exacted upon the Palestinians a traumatic humiliation in the face of an aggressive invasion and Arab betrayal. [Read more...]

Chilean football club counters jersey ban with more prominent map of historic Palestine

The Chilean football federation recently banned a top tier team from using a jersey that featured the map of historic Palestine in exchange for the number one. But the team has struck back with an updated kit design that prominently features the map on the front and center of the jersey.

Club Deportivo Palestino, one of Chile’s oldest club teams, unveiled new kits in December. After playing just three matches, complaints from pro-Israel communities pressured the National Association of Professional Football of Chile to ban the club’s jerseys and fine CD Palestino an equivalent of $1,300.

But the Santiago-based team, founded by Palestinian immigrants in 1920, has chosen not to shy away from the club’s heritage. Despite loose allegations that the team was mixing the sport “with politics and religion,” the team unveiled a new jersey design that moved the map to the front of the shirt. Miniature maps of Palestine are also inset into the bottom of the numbers on the back of the jersey, right above Bank of Palestine’s sponsor spot. [Read more...]

The misuse of terminology in the Palestinian narrative is a failing coping mechanism

Guest contribution by Deema Alsaafin

As is typical with the narratives of many indigenous oppressed peoples, the Palestinian narrative is largely orally transmitted. Throughout history, the terminology used by Palestinians in describing the downfalls that were inflicted upon them is reflective of a lack of a full grasping of the actual happenings that were inflicted. Conversely, the expressions used to describe minor victories of the Palestinian resistance, such as a prisoner swap, are usually overly-praised in the context of liberation. The utilization of undermining or glorifying words to record events is an indication that the Palestinian narrative is reported under false pretenses of reality.

I believe the most important example to tackle is the use of the word Nakba to describe the horrific events that befell Palestine in 1948. Nakba is an Arabic word that means ‘catastrophe’, mainly one that is out of human control. The Sumatra earthquake and tsunami would aptly be considered a nakba. However, considering that we decided to name the ethnic cleansing, bloodbaths, exile, and all around disorientation that befell us in 1948 a “disaster that was out of human control” suggests that we as Palestinians look for a means to assure us that this calamity was committed not necessarily by ruthless Zionist gangs, but moreso by a supernatural force. This indicates a desire for endurance as well as a general failure to accept our defeats in the name of an ideological power struggle. [Read more...]

Oscar nominated film from “Palestine” incites ‘terrorism, violence’ say pro-Israel communities

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. — The second-ever Palestinian film has been nominated for an Oscar. But the nod, which comes in the Best Foreign Language Film category, brings with it some new language. “Omar” was listed as a film from “Palestine” rather than from the “Palestinian territories,” a term previously used by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“Omar” is a complex Palestinian drama and political thriller set in the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film’s director, Hany Abu-Assad, also directed the 2005 film “Paradise Now” which was also nominated for an Academy Award in the foreign language film category.

Abu-Assad says he is elated at the fact that the academy listed his film under “Palestine”. This was a “step in the right direction,” he added, referring to his previous Oscar-nominated film which was listed first under “Palestinian Authority” before being changed to “Palestinian territories.”

But not everyone is thrilled about the academy’s change of language.

“This foments terrorism. There is not a single doubt in my mind that this year’s Academy Awards ceremony is bent on delegitimizing Israel and inciting even more violence and hatred against us,” responded Jake Robinson, a 37-year-old computer salesman from Nebraska, when asked about the possible implications of the academy’s new language. [Read more...]

Statement condemning siege of Yarmouk and all Assad brutality in Syria

Authors’ note: This is a response to the posting from Cornell SJP on the situation in Yarmouk camp in Syria. This is not meant as a comprehensive statement on the conflict in Syria. It is also not our intention to cast aspersions on or vilify Cornell SJP but to respond to the content of their statement. If you would like to add your name to this statement, either as an individual, or as an SJP chapter, please email jareea@gmail.com with the name as it should appear.

All of us have seen the horrifying pictures coming out of Yarmouk refugee camp. Each of us holds our sisters, our brothers, our nieces and nephews, our seedos a little tighter as we struggle to see what can be done for Palestinians who are literally starving to death. Many of those killed by the Assad regime in the past three years were Palestinians, some carrying cameras to document the regime’s brutality, some delivering aid to besieged Syrians, some carrying a weapon while fighting for freedom and dignity, and some sitting quietly in their homes when a TNT barrel fell through their roof. Yarmouk was home to over 100,000 Palestinians. Suffice it to say that there are those in Yarmouk who support the armed resistance, those who don’t, and those who simply want to live, all of them wish to return to their homes in Palestine. 

Yet we also know that ultimately Palestinian liberation is incomplete without the liberation of all oppressed people, whether their oppression comes from occupation and settler-colonialism or a repressive regime from within. [Read more...]

When those who justify state-sponsored terrorism complain about a Palestine map on a team jersey

A Chilean team’s newest kits have put the squad under pressure following accusations that the shirts, which feature a map of historic Palestine, “foment terrorist intent”.

Yes, you read that correctly. A club football team is being accused of promoting violence and terrorism because of a map on the back of its jerseys.

Club Deportivo Palestino is one of Chile’s oldest club teams. Founded in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants, the club has had a steady presence in Chile’s top tier league. The team is based in Santiago, Chile’s capital, where it draws much of its support from the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian immigrants who fled to Chile to escape violence and colonialism as far back as the mid- to late-1800s and especially during the Nakba of the late 1940s. Today, Santiago is widely regarded as home to the largest Palestinian community in the West.

Proud of the team’s history, the team’s front office does what it can to preserve the vision and the culture of the organization’s founding members. The crest and the team’s strip boldly feature the colors of the Palestinian flag. The Bank of Palestine was at one point the team’s main shirt sponsor.

CD Palestino players, past and present, have embraced the very same vision and culture. Team captain Filipe Nuñez recently spent time visiting families and children in the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem to strengthen ties between Chilean and Palestinian football fans. The team has been known to hold moments of silence and reflection during major Israeli military offensives in the occupied Gaza Strip. CD Palestino also regularly starts players of Palestinian descent. [Read more...]

Seeing home in Palestine for the very first time

Guest contribution by Rayaan R.

I will not discuss the politics for I do not believe I am yet qualified. I won’t tell you if I stand for a two-state solution or if I am a “one-stater.” I will not list death tolls nor preach about the horrors Israel imposes on my people every day. Instead, I will share the story of a Palestinian who saw home for the first time.

Born and raised in the United States to a mother who lived her childhood in Ramallah and to a father who cannot remember the last time he set foot in his country, the opportunity presented itself for me to see what I had been raised to believe was home. I had seen pictures and sat for countless hours listening to Sitti tell me stories of the Nakba and life in Palestine, both before and after. But now, after so many years of sitting and listening, I was finally going to see all of the places I had heard so much about.

The short bus ride through the Jordanian-Palestinian border seemed to last for hours but the same story replayed in my mind the entire way through. Mama was always so proud to share her thoughts whenever Palestine was brought up in casual convrsation.

Wallah ya mama, I used to pray in Masjid Al-Aqsa every Friday with my Sitti. I would hold her hand and we would walk there and pray, and after that, she always bought me a treat.” [Read more...]

I wonder if Israel regrets invading Gaza

My life turned around five years ago and I found my voice. What began as a typical winter morning in Chicago quickly turned into a day of mourning, a day of rage, and a day of commitment.

On 27 December 2008, Israel launched a wave of air strikes that pounded the Gaza Strip and killed well over one hundred Palestinians in less than an hour. By the end of the day, more than two hundred Palestinian men, women, and children were killed. Approximately 1.5 million more wondered if they would be next.

Like many other Palestinians who had gathered at a national Islamic conference in Rosemont just outside of Chicago, I learned about the invasion through CNN broadcasts on televisions hanging from walls in a hotel lobby. Plumes of smoke masked Gaza’s clear sky. It was a Saturday. Families were relaxing. Children were in the streets playing. All of the sudden, glass was shattering. [Read more...]

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