Friday, May 15, 2020
On Nakba Day, Learn about Palestinians
Today is the day Palestinians remember the Nakba, the catastrophe. To understand the pain that my post caused yesterday, you have to go back to November 1947-1948/9, after the UN Partition Plan was announced, a plan that the Arab League and Palestinians rejected as unjust. What happened during the Nakba led to the expulsion of approximately 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, into a massive diaspora of refugees whose fates still hang in a purgatorial balance. Though there may be some debate (cf. Plan Dalet) among historians about the level of planning that went into this process, the cataclysm that ensued has never been adequately acknowledged. It must be acknowledged.
One cannot understand the Palestinian narrative without understanding this elemental trauma. About 400 villages were destroyed in what became Israel, many of them bulldozed, with forests planted over them. In other places, the houses built by Palestinians remain, lived in by Israelis. Most estimate that 4-5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants live around the world. Among them are some of my dearest friends and comrades.
They have written unforgettable stories and poems and painted beautiful art and have created a culture that is distinct and diverse. I invite you to read the classics like Mahmoud Darwish, Ghassan Kanafani, Edward Said, Emile Habiby, and many others, but also to meet on the page and in life Sahar Khalifeh, Ghassan Zaqtan, Raja Shehadeh, Naomi Shihab Nye, Fady Joudah, Deema Shehabi, Annemarie Jacir, Susan Abulhawa, Nathalie Handal, Suheir Hammad, Susan Muaddi Darraj, Hala Alyan, Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, Sahar Mustafah, Adania Shibli, Remi Kanazi, Nyla Matuk, and recently astonishing debut writers like George Abraham, Zaina Alsous, Zaina Arafat, Tariq Luthun, Ahmad Almallah, Noor Hindi, Mosab Mostafa, and the many other writers and artists that I have yet to read and meet.
I hope that I have done a measure of justice to the Palestinian story in Shrapnel Maps--but more than that, I hope that it will contribute to their stories being seen and beheld, that we can have real conversations about what a just peace could look like, and that each of us will ask how we are connected to their fates, and what role we might play in that. In many respects, the Nakba continues.
There is an event at 2pm,https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAudOGrpj4sHtLsr0NL6xWEmkOKdRiP99P-?emci=b07e257f-c693-ea11-86e9-00155d03b5dd&emdi=02bcd284-5094-ea11-86e9-00155d03b5dd&ceid=333428&fbclid=IwAR0vC7gn-LXHrBgFZGwwlzi95VQtp3B5mWeX5ZZ-Xflk6KRODkmwTx_V7VU
and another in the evening featuring some of these writers, that highlights Palestinian writers, and I encourage you to learn more.
Here's a poem from Shrapnel Maps that deals with this: