Diary of Occupation: Nakba Revisited
The story of the Nakba remained for decades carrying within it an untold story of fear of admitting fear. We know the story of the dispossession of the population. The story of a nation is becoming under refugee status until this date—the story of the massacres, Deir Yasin. Stories we grew up hearing in a tremendous sense. Something was always missing in it.
Over the years, I tried to develop a certain sense of it. I never wanted to deal with the Nakba. My consciousness of it is weary. It should also be genetic. I never heard my family talking about it. My mother’s family is suddenly becoming refugees and dispossessed from their West Jerusalem house to what I grew up seeing after two or three generations, something that looked like a slum. My other grandmother tells the story of her original city, Ramla. In which she recalls the rest of her life just in Jerusalem.
They were lucky to survive a massacre. After all, they were not from villages. Maybe that was the reason. But they have stripped away from their dignity of keeping their properties. They found themselves in an entirely new situation with only nothing—a new beginning after an earthquake-like situation.
When a property becomes meaningless, belongings disappear. Just staying alive is the focus.
The last three weeks brought what felt lay a déjà vu in my memory. A memory of unnecessarily told miseries. A memory of a tragedy that overtook me as a human being. A tragedy that somehow defines me. A tragedy echoes within a non-lasting curse that continues to enliven us from one generation to another.
What happened tonight as a consequence of the escalation of the vicious murder of the teenager, Mohammad Abu Khder, from Shu’fat? Our street was on the seam of the confrontation. It was a scene that quickly brought me the memories of the first intifada.
But the first intifada carried with it feelings of hope. Of victory to resistance. Of believing that occupation can end. There was this pulse of life of us as a nation. We felt alive.
Tonight it wasn’t life. It was still grief, accompanied with a great sensation of anger, of frustration. There was this awe to touching the feeling of life again. It could be amazing that, again, this Palestinian gene should be what makes things systematically move in the same manner. It was the same scene of more than two decades. By actors who were not born back then. How they adapt to the same methods of resistance subconsciously. It felt as if my generation with courage is surprising to a generation that is a by-product of Oslo.
But what happened to me tonight was this feeling of fear.
A feeling hard to admit exists. At least in such a situation. I felt my heart pounding heavily for hours. Not knowing if we can go back home. Under our building, all the youth gathered, Israeli forces at the intersection of the road. I was with my daughter and sister, and nephews in my other sister’s house. The dogs were home. I felt utterly helpless. Wasn’t it just the feeling of being helpless? No, it was mixed with fear that has this cowardly sensation of being useless.
When we went home, trying to grasp a moment of sneaking ourselves back. The road was dark. Lights were switched off from the area. The road was blocked with garbage containers. I had to drive the opposite way around. Tens, hundreds of youngsters were in the street on our block. The less than five minutes drive felt like five hours. I didn’t believe we had arrived home. I didn’t believe we were able to make our way through the masses down. It was good news for the dogs when they saw us.
However, some distant sentiment kept dwelling on me—a sensation of something that ran in my veins. I haven’t encountered it in this lifetime. I couldn’t. But something inside me has reached out to it.
It was that feeling of Nakba Revisited. The horror generations of my family and I my nation endured during the Nakba. Those stories seemed fictional about Zionist gangs who terrorized the villages and killed their people, and forced them to escape for whatever was left of their lives. We witnessed horrific scenes in the last three weeks, and those closed sketches of abduction, lynching, running over with cars, attacking in the train, thrashing on roads and malls, slaughtering. This scene of blocking all entrances and exits to the neighborhoods, surrounding it with police troops. The site of what was yesterday just a healthy place as a courtyard in the aftermath of an earthquake has this mystical forewarning.
A scene from the past. Details could be different. But the emotions, the sensation of it, is like reliving. A relived feeling of fear. Helplessness. Defenselessness. Powerlessness. But yet resilience. Persistence. Believe in a higher justice that one day should prevail.