Nakba is the Palestinian story of a people and individuals. It is a story so powerful that Israel legislated against its commemoration in 2011, 63 years after the founding of the Zionist state. Nakba, meaning “catastrophe,” “disaster,” or “calamity,” is a reference to an event: that of Israel’s founding and the dispossession, massacre, and exile of Palestinians, the native population of the land. But the translation misses the active upshots of the Arabic word because Nakba is also a structure and a process that is at the heart of Palestinian identity and resistance.
In this collection of works titled “My Nakba” we hear from Palestinians in the occupied territories about their stories of Nakba. The collection comes in three parts:
First, we hear from refugees in the occupied West Bank and Gaza about what Nakba means to them and how it relates to their past, present, and future. In the second part we experience creative works where a writer and an artist imagine their lives and society without Nakba, allowing their imagination to open and close spaces so as to tease out meanings and ramifications. In the third part we read an account of a human rights activist in occupied East Jerusalem about the structure and process of Nakba and how it has and continues to shape his life and work.
While all the stories here reference the historical event in one way or another, what comes out very clearly is each individual’s understanding of Nakba as that system of oppression and process of continuing dispossession. And while each has a different story to tell, all define Nakba as the source of identity formation and the driving force behind people’s struggle and resistance.