This week Palestinians will commemorate Al Nakba, the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people when Israel was founded. Every year, Palestinians hang placards pointing to the right of return, they carry keys symbolizing the homes they were forced to leave and could not return to and remember the Palestine that was lost to them 65 years ago.
This year will be no different. Every May 15, Palestinian recall their catastrophe and demand justice. They demand that they are granted the right of return for those who were made refugees virtually overnight and were then relegate to a life they did not choose. But more than anything, they demand recognition of the tragedy that befell them rather than a denial that it ever happened, or worse, that it was of their own making.
It has been 65 years since Israel was established in 1948, which means those who were cast into exile are either very old or have long passed. Those who experienced the Nakba are now few and far between, clinging to those few precious memories of a small garden in front of their house in Jaffa or of the salty smell of the sea in their neighborhood in Haifa. The rest of us are either descendants of these refugees or ordinary Palestinians who feel their cause is our cause because we are one people.
But the Palestinians have made one thing clear. The refugee issue will not die with the last refugee. It is felt nationwide, the loss, the injustice and the fact that those who were forced from their homes have mostly passed, longing for their beloved homes.
We cannot turn back time. What was lost has been altered, destroyed, changed or taken over by Israel’s newcomers. What we can do is hold on to the right to be recognized, for the injustice to be rectified in word and deed and for Palestine to never be lost in our minds or hearts.
Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at email@example.com.