Tuesday, June 5, 2007

1967: A fragmented existence

The lives of Palestinians in different places show the continuing repercussions of the 1967 war.

By Abdel-Razzaq Takriti
(a doctoral candidate in modern history at Wadham College, Oxford. A Palestinian whose parents come from Haifa and al-Taybeh)

"I've been thinking a lot about Faiza Wannas lately. When I last spoke to her, she had to search hard for a quiet corner, away from the babies screaming and the awful noises of distress coming from the mass of people surrounding her. She sounded tired; active in the General Union of Palestinian Women's Lebanese branch, she has been working flat out from 8 am to 2 am this past week, helping hundreds of families who (like hers) have just been shelled out of Nahr el-Bared refugee camp.

Without any pretension, in her calm way, she describes her situation as she is living it, confirming something I've always known but sometimes forget: experience is worth a thousand abstractions. In preparing a series of blogs on the fortieth anniversary of the 1967 "setback" (the naksah) and the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza strip, it made better sense to me to ask Palestinians like Faiza about the effects of the naksah upon their lives, rather than hold forth with my own personal opinions, and analysis (of which, like most Palestinians, I have plenty).

The way to truly convey the sheer reality and texture of the experience of the naksah was to turn to the real experts: Palestinians in different places who live the effects of 1967 (and 1948) on a daily basis, recording and transmitting their stories.......

The most observable effect of the two tragedies has been physical fragmentation. Some, like Ahmad, were separated from their families by borders and Israeli policy; others like Manal Ghanem and her son Nour by the walls of the occupation's prisons. But though we are kept apart, somehow the sense of Palestinian peoplehood, of the common aspiration for freedom, persists. That sense is what brought us together - from England, Nahr el-Bared, Jerusalem, Tanaf camp and Tulkarem - on this anniversary of occupation and resistance."

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