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Nakba law and Nakba map produce a Nakba dream

It came as a surprise. I didn’t really intend to rebel against the newly legislated “Nakba” (“disaster”) law until Independence day. After all, the law refers specifically to that occasion. It states that any organization that uses Independence day to commemorate the enormous loss suffered by the Palestinain people in 1948-1949, will be penalized by the state.

Israeli independence day, which is also the Nakba memorial day, is still two months or so away, but the law passed this week, and that might have inspired my uncontrolled, nocturnal rebellion. Yes, your honor, I dreamt of the Nakba last night. There was no way I could help it.

In my dream I was sent to the Sea of Galilee to compose a tourism article for some magazine’s Passover edition. Such domestic tourism pieces are always a challenge. This country is the size of New Jersey on a good day, and yet is affluent enough to produce a vast readership hungry for take-the-kids-on-a-short-hike-through-this-little-known-valley-then-visit-this-secret-little-winery kind of texts. It’s been so overcombed by tourism journalists that little is left to discover.

The only new things I find on my dream expedition happen to be old and partially destroyed. They are ruins of villages, towns and actual cities. In the southern Golan Heights, for example, I come by the ruin of a massive church, its dome, decorated with gorgeous blue mosaics, still intact.

This is clearly a reflection of an actual church in the same region: one of the only structures that remained erect after the village of Banias was destroyed in the war of 1967. While some progress was made in educating Israelis about the damage done in 1948, the destruction that took place in the Golan Heights following the Six Day War is still mostly taboo. From what information I have, more than 130,000 Syrian dwellers of the region became refugees and many villages were destroyed.

In my dream I return to my hotel in Tiberias, determined to write not a recreational article but one that describes what I’ve seen. In the city I meet an American archeologist. She leads me to the ruins of an entire town, completely engulfed by the suburbs of Israeli Tiberias.

Throughout my childhood I’ve come across such ruins all over the country. Having grown up on Biblical stories and tales of the heroic Maccabees, I assumed as a child that they were “ancient”, related to pre-Helenist and Helenist times. Only later in life did I grasp that many of them were inhabited at a time in which my grandparents were already married.

I am grateful to the Knesset for inspiring this dream, but I don’t give it full credit. A certain actual discovery also played a part here. A few weeks ago a gentleman passed away in the neighborhood and his books were put out on the street, as part of a lovely Tel-Aviv tradition which allows random book-lovers to inherit what treasures they find.

Among the books my friends and I discovered a collection of maps. They present the country at a 1:100,000 scale and while published in the mid 50s, are mostly based on British maps charted in the early 40s.

The publishers of the maps simply published the British maps, adding a circle for each new Israeli settlement founded over the years and marked each wrecked Palestinian village with the word “demolished”. I never had any idea how large those communities were and how numerous. An excerpt of one such map is provided above. The entire compendium is literally the stuff of nightmares.

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    1. Please, please, please, publish the full set of maps online !!!! Pretty please!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Amin Nusseibeh

      I share your deram. I have a dream that I visited Belarus and saw villages and ruined synagogues, remnants of the Jewish homeland. I then dreamed that the zionists returned to those villages and converted them into startup nation, while we returned to the villages in your dream, and created authentic Palestine, replacing the tacky disney like spectacle that has replaced them

      Reply to Comment
    3. This isn’t at all what I’m drawing at. Reversing the past is futile, but building a future is essential and a future can only be built if we’re educated about each other’s pain. Moreover, Israel isn’t a Disney-like specatacle. It’s a real country with real people and real problems.
      As for Belarus, the reference seems familiar. If you are the same gentleman who replies to every post on this site with a Belarus-centered plan for repatriation of European Jews (offering no solution for Iraqi-Israelis, nor any thought about how Belarussians may feel about such a developement) please refrain from doing so.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Constantin

      Nakba version A:
      What a misfortune! What a catastrophy! God didn’t respond to our prayers to get rid of those zionist creatures and did not give strength to our noble fighters – so we can ony weep and dream (mixing Disney and Belarus in our dreams).
      Nakba version B:
      What a tragic historic mistake we made when we did not accept Palestine division plan and entrusted our fate into the incapable and greedy hands of our national leaders! If we could only correct this mistake and somehow devise some modus vivendi with those zionist crearures (which might not be creatures after all but just human beings).
      If the most popular version is A – do not abolish Nakba day – let it be constant reminder what are we facing when we are urged by enlightened nations to make peace agreement with Nakba dreamers.
      And YESSSS please publish those maps with the whole stories about each “Demoslished” site – what happened during the war (Nakba or Independence – whatever). LIke the one you did publish called Faluja – interesting story! Please also add population figures for each “D” village

      Reply to Comment
    5. Brendan

      This serious of maps was also produced in a classified edition that showed the actual buildings in the new Jewish localities. Dov Gavish has written a description of them.

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    6. Michael S

      “I have a dream that I visited Belarus and saw villages and ruined synagogues, remnants of the Jewish homeland. I then dreamed that the zionists returned to those villages and converted them into startup nation.”

      But then what happens to the Belorussians? Furthermore, have you ever been to Belarus? It’s got to be one of, if not the dullest countries in the world. It is run by Europe’s last dictator, a crazy communist who is like one of the Arab leaders in both his corruption and longevity. Minsk had one tourist attraction unless you like looking at Stalinist architecture, and it was a castle that was closed on a Saturday afternoon.

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    7. I happen to be rather fond of Stalinist architecture, but it’s my own quirk.
      Mr. Nusseibeh and I have gone through this Belarus thing before. I don’t think he’s been there nor has yet established how to make President Lukashenko accept his plan.

      Reply to Comment
    8. RichardNYC


      Doesn’t Mr. Amin Nusseibeh’s response to your piece give you some sense of the kind of political elements you’re encouraging with your Nakba commemoration? Your suggestion that we accept the truth and move on is too subtle for a general audience to appreciate; many will see yours and others’ activism on this subject as vote for deconstruction of Israel. This radicalizes the left and gives the right an excuse to crack down on “delegitimization.” I don’t dispute your facts, but I don’t see how Israeli’s owning up to the Nakba on a personal level advances peace. The solution is pretty simple: get a Kadima-led government that will sign a deal and evacuate settlements. So why are you creating obstacles for them by giving Likud a stick to beat rational people with? All anyone needs to talk about for now is the strategic liability of settlements. That is only way to win over the way public. Shaming them with stories about old villages is a counterproductive waste of time.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Amin Nusseibeh

      I dont try to circumscribe your dreams, so please dont circumscribe mine. Your nation has profited greatly from the Naqba, and now we have the spectacle of two Jews, Schnabel and Weinstein, profiting from the story of the Naqba in the movie Miral.

      Reply to Comment
    10. RichardNYC

      Dream all you like.

      Reply to Comment