Never Forget the Nakba

by | May 14, 2019 | Conversations | 1 comment




Generations of Trauma

Even 71 years later, May 15th, 1948 denotes stark differences among communities. For Zionists, it’s a day of celebration as it declared itself the new independent country of Israel. For Palestinians, it is known as the ‘Al-Nakba’ or the catastrophe. For liberal Israelis today, living on this ancestral land stolen through political intrigue and brute force, it is the realization that their consciences rest uneasy. They see the abdominal status quo and they also understand that courage is needed to stand up for Palestinian justice and atone for the violence perpetrated in their names. As consciousness dawns, even the majority of the global community appreciates that healing this scourge is the only route to harmony and civil society.

And yet the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and near destruction of Palestinian society in 1948, as the British Mandate of Palestine expired, still lives strong. The lofty declaration stated…

the country would be for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.



This has not happened. The Nakba was a deliberate and systematic act necessary for the creation of a Jewish majority state in historic Palestine, which was mainly Arab prior to 1948. Over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were expelled from their homes and over 500 villages destroyed.


Perennially etched within the 12.4 million Palestinians living worldwide, May 15 is not only a reminder that the Nakba never ended, it is brutal reminder that Israel continues to inflict pain onto Palestinians in the form of ongoing theft of Palestinian land for settlements, its destruction of Palestinian homes and agricultural land,  revocation of residency rights deportations, periodic brutal military assaults that result in mass civilian casualties such as the one that took place in Gaza in the summer of 2014, and the denial of the internationally-recognized legal right of return of millions of stateless Palestinian refugees.

What does Nakba Mean to you?

Palestinians in the diaspora talk to My Olive Roots about what the Nakba means to them.

Samia Nasir Khoury

East Jerusalem


The Nakba has been my endless nightmare as a Palestinian.  The loss of a country, land and home.  The loss of family and friends who ended up dispersed worldwide. A grave injustice never acknowledged nor redressed, that’s still ongoing.  The sight of the people of Ramle and Lydda walking all the way to Birzeit in July 1948 is still etched in my memory.

Zaki Boulos


Researcher & Academic Editor

As a child, my father spent a year at an empty school in Jordan’s Sult region with his siblings, fleeing the pogroms. His father, Jiddo Zaki, was glued to the radio for morsels of news from Palestine, looking to return home to his ancestral land, looking for a return to normalcy. Jiddo Zaki was deluded.
Jiddo Zaki passed away in the early sixties in Beirut, never to set eyes on Palestine again.

My mother was born in Nazareth 1947, after partition. Her father, Jiddo Elias, was affluent and was able to whisk his family out of Palestine. Jiddo Elias passed away in the seventies in Beirut. Jiddo Elias too never set eyes on Palestine again.

The right of return was denied to them, to my parents and their siblings, and now it’s our turn. We still yearn for home as millions of Palestinians still do, either living as refugees across the Arab world or among the Palestinian diaspora.

This pogram.

The Nakba, is ongoing. It is not isolated to the events of 1948, but is still an organic part of what it means to be Palestinian. And so it goes, this Nakba passes on it’s insidious code, infecting each generation, blighting those embroiled in its wrath, till Palestinians, once again, emerge from the ashes to reclaim this land lost between the cracks of history.

Samar Sakakini

Jerusalem – Canton Michigan

Teacher – Social Studies 

When my Father was alive he always spoke to us about the agony that the Nakba forced on him and his family in 1948. This event distorted lives and shook all Palestinians, 70 years later the Palestinians are still suffering.  I was born in Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine and although I don’t live there anymore, Palestine will always live in my children and me. We must keep the memories thriving for generations to come, I promised my father.

Randa Mouammer



The Nakba is a day to remember the catastrophe that Palestinians endured decades ago with loss of land and autonomy. It’s also an anniversary, seemingly unending, that reminds me to persevere and to persist and always be strong. It also reminds me that we are never done giving to people, helping others and that we must always ensure that we don’t do to others the things that we would never want done to us.

Mary Mouammer

Nazareth -Toronto -Tehran

Resettlement Expert and Consultant on Refugee Affairs
(UNHCR Iran Operation)

For years we have heard about the Palestinian refugees living abroad and in camps, but little is known about the tens of thousands of Palestinians who became Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). My family was one of those IDPs who left home in Haifa, with all their belongings, to seek temporary refuge in Nazareth on the assumption that when the attacks on civilian Arab population in Haifa subsided they would return to the house, after all, they had the key with them! However, when the war ended and Israel occupied Palestine, neither my family nor the tens of thousands who had done the same thing, were able to get their homes back because Jewish families who refused to leave occupied them. To date these IDPs have not been able to get their homes back nor have they received any compensation for their losses. This at a time when Jews, who were displaced from Europe, were demanding, and still are receiving, compensation from Europe for everything they lost, including things like paintings. The double standard in the plight of Palestinians is glaring in all aspects of their dispossession.

Mai Kakish

Jerusalem – Chicago

Almond & Fig – Food Blog

Nakba, the Arabic word for catastrophe, perfectly reflects the tragedy of the numerous villages erased in 1948 and the hundreds of thousands of refugees who lost their homes and land, becoming separated from their families. As a Palestinian today the Nakba for us hasn’t ended. Palestinians continue to suffer the Nakba daily. The wall that forces separation, the confiscation of land and water, the expansion of settlements, roadblocks and checkpoints; the scourge continues and actually intensifies. The Nakba also divided the Palestinians between Palestine and the diaspora, between the ones that have yellow, green or blue license plates between East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, between those with a refugee identification card and those who don’t; between the Palestinians who live in Israel and those that live in the West Bank. 

To me, the Nakba is alive in the excruciating history of my grandfather losing his home in Jerusalem, as well as a lived daily, with my parents still fighting for their IDs, health insurance, battling road closures, checkpoints and even more poignantly, the wall that my grandmother stares out at from her veranda.

Edgar T. Zarifeh

Yafa  – Toronto

Retired Auditor

In Arabic, there is no word that is more effective than ‘Nakba’ to describe a disaster, catastrophe, calamity, tragedy or misfortune.  Falastin has always been the pathway to conquerors and colonists. The latest were the fierce Ottomans who ended their rule by the hanging of our heroes on May 6, 1916.

Then came the British with their Mandate to fulfill their dream of a Jewish colony, initiating persecutions, leading to the Nakba. What a shameful ending of the Mandate that was meant to give a self-rule to the Mandate, ‘A’ which was Falastin!

Our people were forced to abandon their homes to escape death by bombs, bullets or bayonets. Some were drowned from sinking crafts and boats. Many were separated from their loved ones. A real holocaust was being perpetrated by so-called `holocaust `survivors, seeking to avenge the Nazi horrors by eliminating a whole nation, under orders of the leaders of the World Jewish AgencyHaim Weizman and David Ben Gurion.

Laila Dajani


Teacher – Yoga and Mindfulness 

It is unbearable to imagine what my people have undergone and continue to suffer daily. I feel connected to a land that I do not really know, I also feel disconnected from any sense of belonging. I often feel misunderstood and unworthy, demonstrating how the impact of the diaspora endures from generation to generation, since 1948. I feel rage and underneath that is a layer of shame because my rage towards the occupying party instigates me to lose compassion where I disconnect from my heart. 

What is the Nakba to me? It is pain, horror, a wound of psychological displacement, confusion and anger towards the apathy of the international community. Yet I feel grateful that I lead a privileged life and can provide my daughter with a safe home and her basic human rights.

The Historical Zionist Perspective

Theodore Herzl

We shall have to spirit the penniless population across the border … while denying it any employment in our country.

David Ben Gurion

We must do everything to insure they [the Palestinians] never do return … The old will die and the young will forget.

Ariel Sharon

Everybody has to move; run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements, because everything we take now will stay ours. Everything we don’t grab will go to them.

The Global Perspective

BDS Movement

Their Independence is our Nakba. The ethnic cleansing of 750,000 to one million indigenous Palestinians 70 years ago and turning them into refugees to establish a Jewish-majority state in Palestine is no cause for celebration.

Jeremy Corbyn

I have been campaigning for the human rights of the Palestinian people and will continue to do so for as long as their rights are being denied to them.

Al Pacino

Take a look at Israel’s terrorist and you would know who the terrorist is.


Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Tanya knew that Palestine was her symbolic homeland. Always curious about her identity and connecting with her roots, she was eager to strengthen her ties to the Levant and traveled the region, desperate to learn more. It wasn’t until her first trip to Palestine that she became spiritually and emotionally connected.

She studied Political Science and Sociology at the University of Toronto. She then moved to the UAE, supporting numerous NGOs related to children’s welfare in the region. When she had her own family, she created the My Olive Roots platform in the hopes that her children and the Arabs diaspora would have a place to connect, learn and preserve their roots. Tanya enjoys discovering humanist stories and exploring the connection of food and art with culture.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    For me Nakba is as much about the future as it is about the past .We all empathize with suffering of Palestinians in Gaza ,the west Bank and the camps .Palestinians in the diaspora most of the time fare better financially .
    But life is not just about financial security .The Nakba means you have no roots anywhere .You do not feel it when you’re young and busy but when it is time to settle down ,when your children have left the nest ,you wonder.
    You wonder where your home is going to be ?You do not belong anywhere.This the Nakba!


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