6. The Nakba  النكبة

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Nakba definition

Learn more about the Nakba

• Background

Click here to go to IMEU's [Institute for Middle East Understanding] FAQ on the Nakba / Click here to go to IMEU's Quick Facts: The Palestinian Nakba Click here to go to IMEU's FAQ on the Right of Return & Palestinian Refugees

Click here to download the Nakba-Awareness flyer produced by the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine

Click here to go to Jewish Voice for Peace's statement: “The Nakba and Israel's 60th Anniversary

• Websites

PalestineRemembered.com was created “to preserve the memories and the experiences of the Palestinian people around the world, especially the 726,000 Palestinians refugees who were ethnically cleansed from their homes, farms, and businesses as a result of the 1948 war.”
here to go to PalestineRemembered.com. Click here to go to Palestine Remembered’s Oral History Project [النسخة العربية].

Zochrot [“Remembering” in Hebrew] is a group of Israeli citizens working to raise awareness of the Nakba. Click here to go to Zochrot's website. Zochrot hosts tours of Palestinian places destroyed in 1947-1949. For most tours Zochrot produces a commemorative booklet; these booklets can be downloaded here for free. Zochrot's Nakba map [in Hebrew], which includes localities in the country which were destroyed between the Zionist colonization and the 1967 war, can be viewed and downloaded here. Zochrot’s study guide, “How Do We Say Nakba in Hebrew,” is both summarized in English, and is downloadable in its entirety [in Hebrew] here.

Nakba Archive is an oral history collective which has “recorded over 650 video interviews with first generation Palestinian refugees . . .  These eyewitness narratives, with refugees from more than 150 Palestinian villages and towns, recall social and cultural life in Palestine before 1948, relations with neighboring Jewish communities and the British Mandate, the 1948 expulsion, and the early years of exile. The aim has been to document this critical period through the voices and experiences of those who lived through it, and to bear witness in a way shaped not by political symbolism but rather by the rhythms of personal memory.
here to go to Nakba Archive.

Nakba Education Project aims to provide educational resources to American Jews and a general American audience centered on events in 1948 in Palestine/Israel, what the State of Israel calls the War of Independence and Palestinians call the Nakba (“Catastrophe” in Arabic). In 2008 the Israeli organization Zochrot published a study guide called How do you say Nakba in Hebrew? It’s a curriculum designed for Jewish Israelis, supporting Zochrot’s mission to increase awareness of the Nakba and its implications today. Since the study guide was published in Israel, American-Jewish communities, rabbis, and activists have been eager for English translations of Zochrot’s materials that they can use here. In response, a small group of volunteers based in NYC has reworked the Israeli curriculum for a U.S. Jewish audience. In the past couple of years, we have run pilot versions of the series for Jewish Voice for Peace and at Columbia University in conjunction with The Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability. [Our] website is a collection of the curriculum and resources we have developed for use in popular education, mainstream education, synagogue adult ed, and other settings.” Click here to go to the website for The Nakba Education Project (NEP).

Ongoing Nakba Education Center is a website created by BADIL [Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights] which uses multimedia productions (including short films, audio recordings and photo galleries) to “highlight The Ongoing Nakba that has been perpetuated against the Palestinian people from 1947 until today. Click here to go to Ongoing Nakba Resource Center.

UNRWA photo and film archive for Palestine refugees is a newly digitized collection of images and films taken by UNRWA photographers (and their predecessors) which “includes iconic images of Palestinians having to leave their homes, in 1948; the establishment of refugee camps, in the 1950s; the second flight, in 1967; the hostilities in Lebanon; and the unrest from the second half of the 1980s to the early twenty-first century. The lives of Palestine refugees are central to the archive, often in the context of UNRWA work, but its portraits of important public figures and scenes of turbulent political events serve as a reminder of the troubled context that has become part of the community's collective memory over the past six decades.” Click here to go to UNRWA photo and film archive for Palestine refugees.

AlNakba.org was created by the Khalil Sakini Cultural Center as a visual rememberance of the events of the Nakba. 
Click here to go to Alnakba.org

The Discriminatory Laws in Israel Database, created by Adalah [The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel], collects text, analyses, and legal action for present and proposed discriminatory laws in Israel and the OPT. As noted by the US Campaign: “Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have now lived under a brutal military occupation for nearly forty six years [2013], and Palestinians in Israel live under apartheid—more than fifty laws enshrine their status as second class citizens based on their ethnic and religious identity. This resource from Adalah documents, explores, and analyzes the ongoing Nakba. Click here to go to The Discriminatory Laws in Israel Database.

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residence and Refugee Rights, an independent human rights NGO committed to protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons, has created a detailed FAQ about the Nakba and Palestinian refugees. Topics in the FAQ include: “Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: Demographics of Displacement,” Forced Displacement; Ongoing Nakba,” “Legal status of refugees and internally displaced persons,” Practicality of Return,” and So what can we do?” 

NakbaSurvivor.coma multi-media initiative of the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), features short, personal testimonials of refugees and their direct descendants. Palestinians all over the world are asked to upload video testimonials or contribute their stories on Twitter, using #NakbaSurvivor as the hashtag. The tweets show up in a live feed on the website. [ei] Click here to go to Nakbasurvivor.com.

The Nakba and the Law, “a  joint initiative of Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Columbia University Center for Palestine Studies — explores and thinks through the Nakba as an event, a structure, and a process through a critical lens on the law. [The] blog, The Nakba Files, is the project’s online work and discussion space.” Click here to go to The Nakba and the Law.

Palestine Shrinking / Expanding Israel is an interactive website created by Visualizing Palestine. Click here to go to Palestine Shrinking / Expanding Israel.

Facing the Nakba, a web gallery developed and presented by Jewish Voice for Peace Artist Council, offers educational resources to U.S. Jews and a general U.S. audience about the history of the Nakba … and its implications in Palestine/Israel today…. Based upon the study guide published by Israeli NGO Zochrot, entitled “How do you say Nakba in Hebrew? Facing the Nakba has developed a curriculum and teaching guide about the Nakba for use in workshops and classrooms across the U.S.” Click here to go to Facing the Nakba.

About the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Click here to learn about the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights.

• Multimedia


Click on the book cover below to view the
first part of a four part
lecture by
Dr. Ilan Pappe
: The Ethnic Cleansing
of Palestine [2006; total time of all parts
combined: 39:18]. Dr. Pappe, Israeli
historian, is a graduate of Hebrew
University and of Oxford University.
Currently a professor at the University
of Exeter [UK], he was formerly the
chair of the Emil Touma Institute for
Palestinian and Israeli Studies in Haifa.
[Links:  Part 1  /  Part 2  /  Part 3  /  Part 4 ]

Cover of the book Ethnic Cleansing by Ilam Pappe

Click on the image below to view former
Palmach fighter Amnon Neuman
recounting the Nakba in 1948. The video
was produced by the Israeli organization
Zochrot, and was posted to Mondoweiss.
This happened everywhere. In
the South as well as the North.
Everywhere. This is the most
point. The land was not empty as I was
told as a
 child. As children we were
told all sorts of stories. The land
never empty….It was done by
given orders.

Click on the image below to view the BBC
In Search of Palestine ­­­‑
Edward Said
’s Return Home  [50:13,
BBC: "For Palestinian expatriate
Edward Said, the return to his homeland
amounted to a painful inquiry into his
past. This program captures the
interconnection between Said
’s personal
recollections and the shared memory of
the Palestinian people. Far from ignoring
the contemporary realities of the Middle
East, Said’s perspective relates the ruins
of history to the complacent and
destructive policies of present-day
governments, and delivers a powerful
articulation of the weaknesses of
the Oslo accords.


Click on the image below to view Sands
of Sorrow,
 [28:33, 1950] a newsreel-
style documentary about the Palestinain
refugees, introduced and closed by the
American journalist Dorothy Thompson. 

Click on the image below to view
Palestinian Village Histories:
Geographies of the Displaced,

[18:57, 2012] an interview with
Rochelle Davis, author and
Associate Professor of Cultural
Anthropology at Georgetown
University [Palestine Studies TV]. 

Click on the image below to
From Al-Araquib to Susiya,
a short film produced to mark Nakba
Day [15:00, 2013]. Produced by Adalah
(The Legal Center for Arab Minority
Rights in Israel) it 
“captures the stories
of two Palestinian villages, Al-Araqib
and Susiya — one in Israel, one in the
West Bank — that share a single story
of struggle against forced displacement.

Click on the image below to view
another lecture by Dr. Ilan 
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,
[59:58, Vancouver, 2008].

Click on the image below to view the video
Zochrot: Remembering the Nakba,
[9:30, 2008]. 
Zochrot is an organization
focuses on documenting and
commemorating the Nakba and realizing
the return of Palestinian refugees. The
name means 
remembering but its
meaning goes deeper than that. It is the
plural female form of remembering, which
is fitting because this, and many other
peace-focused organizations, is mainly
staffed by women.
 — Zochrot

Click on the image below to view the video “Remembering
the Nakba from Burj Barajneh refugee camp" [4:22, 2016].
"In the Active Aging House of Burj Barajneh, a Palestinian
refugee camp in Beirut, the Nakba is still a vivid memory.
Some of the center-goers were in their childhood when,
in 1948, the ‘catastrophe’ had befell the Palestinians and
more than 750,000 were ousted from their homelands.
Around 110,000 took refuge in Lebanon that. Marian,
68 years old, still remembers those keys to her house.
Her parents were holding them in their hands while telling
her about al Safsaf, the village in Galilee they used to live
in before the Nakba.” For more information about this
video follow this link to an article in Mondoweiss.

Click on the image below to view the video
From Saffuriya to Yarmouk Camp: A Palestinian
Refugee's Nakba Story,
” [6:05, 2016]. Em Fathi is
a Palestinian refugee who was forced out of
Palestinein 1948. Em Fathi and her family
made the journey from Saffuriya, a village in
Palestine’s northern district of Nazareth, to
Yarmouk RefugeeCamp in Syria where the
family now lives. In this video, Em Fathi
tells her story.” 
— Middle East Monitor  

Click on the image below to watch 
Institute for Middle East Understanding's (IMEU) short video “Nakba by the Numbers” [2016]


Click on the image below of the plundered
Palestinian books
 in Israel's National
Library (marked AP for Abandoned
Property) to watch a forty-eight minute
version of the
 documentary The Great
Book Robbery
. [
Dir. Benny Brunner, 2012] 

Image of plundered Palestinian books in Israel's national libraryd

iNakba App

Produced by Zochrot, iNakba is a trilingual mobile
app (Arabic, Hebrew and English) based on GPS
Navigation technology. This app allows users to
locate and learn about Palestinian localities
destroyed during, and as a result of, the Nakba
since 1948.

The application provides coordinates and maps
of Palestinian localities that were completely
ruined, destroyed, obliterated after their capture,
partially demolished, or remained standing but
were depopulated and their residents expelled.
The app also provides historical information
and includes video clips and photographs of
these localities. The app is interactive; it allows
users to add pictures of the destroyed localities,
as well as share their comments and follow
updates about selected localities.”


Created by VisualizingPalestine in
May of 2013, the infographic below,
An Ongoing Displacement: The
Forced Exile of the Palestinians,
visually commemorates and
quantitatively catalogues the
multiple dimensions of
Palestinian displacement and loss
of land.
 Click the image below for
a larger image to print and share.

Created by VisualizingPalestine in
May of 2015, the interractive
infographic linked to the image below,
Palestine Shrinking/Expanding Israel,
describes key stages in the
gradual transformation of historic
Palestine into 'Greater' Israel,
and maps the extent of the
territory now in the direct
possession of the Israeli state
and linked institutions*, on
which Palestinians -- even those
holding Israeli citizenship -- are
now largely excluded from living.

Click here or on the image
below to view a larger,
interactive version of the visual.


*The map includes Israeli-defined
'state land' and land holdings of
the quasi-state Jewish National
Fund (JNF), all of which fall under
the control of the central Israel
Land Administration.

Palestine Shrinking

Click on the image above to view a larger,
interactive version of “Palestine Shrinking/
Expanding Israel.



Residency Revocation: Israel’s Forcible Transfer of Palestinians from Jerusalem [July 3, 2017] ● "Under international law, East Jerusalem is considered an occupied territory and the de facto annexation of the city by the Israeli government is considered illegal. Throughout its occupation, Israel has enacted discriminatory laws and policies to diminish the presence of the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem. By granting Palestinians a “permanent” residency status to live in Jerusalem, entry into and residency in Jerusalem becomes a revocable privilege, instead of an inherent right.

[This] infographic focuses on the unlawful Israeli policy of residency revocation targeting Palestinians from Jerusalem.  The revocation of permanent residency status is the most direct tool used to forcibly transfer Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem, so that a Jewish-Israeli majority can be maintained in the city. Since 1967, Israel created and consistently expanded the criteria for revoking the residency status of Palestinians, leading to the revocation of the residency rights of more than 14,500 Palestinians from Jerusalem to date.

The policy was developed in three main phases:

1967-1995: A Palestinian can lose his or her residency status by “living outside Israel” (and East Jerusalem) for a period of seven years, or by receiving the status of resident or citizen in another country.

1995-ongoing: The aforementioned criteria were broadened so that Palestinians may lose their residency status by moving their “center of life” outside of Israel or East Jerusalem, even if they were residing abroad for less than seven years and did not obtain residency status or citizenship from a foreign country. If individuals reside in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, Israel considers it as though they are “residing abroad” and can revoke their Jerusalem residency status. Since the implementation of this policy in 1995, Israel has revoked more than 11,500 residency statuses.

2006-ongoing: In addition to the center of life policy, the Israeli Minister of Interior also began punitively revoking the residency status of Palestinians on the basis of a “breach of allegiance.” Consequently, Palestinians who have never left Jerusalem become vulnerable to residency revocation.

Residency revocations, including punitive revocations, flagrantly violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Revocation of residency leads to forcible transfer, a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. As the revocation forms part of a widespread and systematic policy to transfer the protected Palestinian population, it may also amount to a crime against humanity."

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MichaelLevin11@mac.com  I  © Michael Levin 2012