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What if.... Palestinian Nakba never happened

What if.... Palestinian Nakba never happened

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Opinion Marginalized Groups History

Wednesday 17 May 202304:53 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

لو لم تحدث النكبة


This article falls under the collection, "75 Years of Nakba... Dreaming in the midst of Tragedy"


I do not want to write about the Nakba. I want to write about the people who left their homes and came back two weeks later to dust off the furniture, water their thirsty plants, and check on the cat's food. I want to write about an old man who was able to return two weeks later, happy because he "caught the end of the almond season" before it was over.

If the Nakba hadn't happened, or if it did happen and ended, the first thing people would do is put away the winter clothes they fled with and take out the summer clothes to match the month of May. The act of putting away and taking out seasonal items is a Palestinian ritual that happens twice a year, first between April and May, the onset of summer, and second between October and the end of the year. It includes not only clothes but also blankets, sheets, and clothes that have become too small for the children and will be put away to be worn by their yet-to-be-born siblings.

Unfortunately, Palestinians have not been able to take down the summer of 1948 from the wall of history

Unfortunately, Palestinians have not been able to take down the summer of 1948 from the wall of history.

I do not want to write about the Nakba. I want to write about the sight of falling rose petals as they're being thrown by Palestinian girls over the procession of victorious Arab armies, as they passed through cities with their heads held high in 1948.

I want to write about the martyrs whose names we gave to streets in Acre, Jerusalem, and Nablus, about the extended families of Iraqi, Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian soldiers who married in Palestine and settled there.

I don't want to write about the Nakba. I want to write about the people who left their homes and came back two weeks later to dust off the furniture and check on the cat. I want to write about an old man who's glad he caught the almond season before it ended

The word Nakba has a different impact in the genes of a Palestinian, even if history has surpassed it. But this is a lie. There is no Palestinian who has surpassed history because history doesn't leave us alone. It haunts us when it comes to the fate of our children, it haunts us in our papers and passports, and tugs at our shirts at airports to prevent us from entering the country. It calls us to take a seat on "the chair on the right" at land border crossings.

During last year's World Cup, I wanted to write and boast about the Palestinian national team qualifying for the tournament, and how bad luck placed us in a "tough group", but we have complete trust in the players, not in the coach. The coach of the Palestinian team would have been – if the Nakba hadn't happened – a "donkey", and despite being a farmer, he always picks young players from Jerusalem, Nablus, and Jaffa for the main lineup, while the sons of farmers sit on the bench. This is because his relatives are from the Nashashibi family, and he has an inferiority complex.

This is not a figment of imagination, since all Palestinians know this about the imaginary coach of our national team in the 2022 World Cup finals.

I have never once written about the beautiful ceiling that would have adorned the Gaza Opera House if the Nakba hadn't happened, and how I would have been amazed by the presence of all this beauty in one place. I didn't boast about an article on the water ballet troupe of graceful women from Gaza, Haifa, and Acre, who represented Palestine in the Olympics, despite the foolish voices that kept calling for them to wear shorts instead of swimsuits.

Before the Nakba – which I don't want to write about – we had a homeland, and it had a sea, a lake, and a river, just like in children's storybooks. Then the wolf came, and took the lake and the sea, then killed the fisherman, and swallowed the grandmother

If the Nakba hadn't happened, I would have written about the beaches that compete with the most beautiful beaches in the world in attracting tourists because our weather is the best, our beer is colder, our summer is longer, and our wine is sacred. And because the restaurants that serve Gazan fatteh alongside beer compete with the most delicious restaurants in Naples, on the other side of the Mediterranean.

If the Nakba hadn't happened, we would have shared our pictures on Facebook at the olive, wine, and apricot festivals. We might have seen some caricatures mocking hotel owners in the villages of Jerusalem, those who hide wine during the Muslim pilgrimage season and bring it out during the Christian pilgrimage season.

And if I summon a bit of bitterness, I will write about the Palestinian state's delay in completing the alternative energy project along the coast. I will write about the government's slowness in implementing its economic program, which we elected them for. I will write about Tiberias chalets not being sold at preferential prices to Palestinians.

I haven't written about Tiberias; I saw it once from the heights of "Umm Qais" in Jordan, and it was as beautiful and inviting as I had imagined it to be in my childhood. The word "lake" also leaves a fixed image in the child's mind; the lake that always leads to a small cottage surrounded by flowers, a short road with a wolf passing through the forest, and a long road leading to grandma's house.

If the Nakba hadn't happened, I would've written about beaches that rival the world's best beaches because our beer is colder, our summer is longer, our wine is sacred, and our Gazan fatteh rivals the best restaurants on the other side of the Mediterranean

Before the Nakba – which I don't want to write about – we had a homeland, and it had a sea, and a lake, and a river, and many springs, just like in children's storybooks. Then the wolf came, and took the lake and the sea, then killed the fisherman, and swallowed the grandmother, and since the fisherman was killed, our story didn't end with any beautiful lesson that could be passed on to future generations. In children's stories, it is important to have a beautiful ending and a moral lesson after all the suspense and emotional ups and downs. Otherwise, they won't sleep and will continue to ask questions.

Do we dare narrate our story to our children? We are the third generation of Palestinians. Can we explain the true meaning of the Nakba to children when we don't have a decent ending, like the wolf running away and us reclaiming our lake?

But Palestine is not an island, and its borders are not just water. If I indulged in the realism that I would have experienced if the Nakba had not happened, I would have been angry when the Lebanese soldier asked for my passport alongside my "personal ID" before allowing me to cross, and that this happened after all the countries of the Levant, Iraq, and Egypt signed an agreement to "facilitate passage" for land crossings. If the Nakba hadn't happened, we would not have afflicted everyone around us, and the relationship with our neighbors would have been normal and competitive, within reasonable rates.

If the Nakba hadn't happened, we would've shared our photos on Facebook at the olive festival. We'd laugh at caricatures mocking hotel owners in Jerusalem's villages, who hide wine during the Muslim pilgrimage season and bring it out during the Christian one

It's true that I do not want to write about the Nakba or the defeat, but I do not want to write about victory either, or any heroisms, whether real or imagined. I want to write about a people who lived with normal dignity in their country, suffered from normal economic, political, and social problems, not the inability of an entire nation to take down their summer clothes from their storage.

Just a little bit of the ordinary would have satisfied us if the Nakba hadn't happened, like complaining about the exaggerated celebrations in light of the economic crisis the country is going through. Is there a need for all this lighting in the streets, all these parties, songs, and "excessive expenses" to celebrate independence? Independence is self-evident and doesn't require all this spectacle and such grandiose displays.

This is also a lie. If the Nakba hadn't happened, we would not have complained about the huge budget allocated for celebrating independence. We would celebrate it every day of the year, not just on the 15th of May.


* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22



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