[this post originally appeared on Jadaliyya as part of a series of reflections composed by Palestinian anthropologists in commemoration of Nakba Day]
Wearing Catastrophe on Our Chests
by Amahl Bishara
Last year around this time, my family and I were in Bethlehem dining with a seasoned American activist when my three-year-old daughter leaned over and whispered in my ear with a fierce intensity: “Tell her about the Nakba!” When I relayed her suggestion to the rest of the table, we all smiled, since this friend knew quite well about the Nakba. The word literally means catastrophe, and it has come to signify Palestinians’ displacement and dispossession at the hands of Zionist militias and then the Israeli army. It turned 750,000 Palestinians into refugees, destroyed more than four hundred villages, and dismantled Palestinian urban life. In fact, my daughter’s impulse was right on: More people need to see the Nakba at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.