The Nakba (Calamity) is the Arabic name for an event which resulted in the expulsion of over 700000 Palestinian refugees from their homeland in 1948. What we commemorate on May 15 had its roots far earlier than 1948 and its effects continue to haunt the West as we move into the twentieth century of their calendar. For sixty long years, the Palestinians have had an uphill struggle to reclaim their stolen birthright and this struggle has taken place on many levels and not just the battlefield. Arguably, one of the most important of these struggles has been that of the narrative that which we should take for the Nakba. This struggle has been as a result of Zionisms attempt to implement the very much Western maxim that "history is written by the victors". To have a particular perspective of an event and describe that as history, bearing in mind the distance and obscurity imposed on us by time, is to have everyone agree unequivocally that a particular event took place, that a number of things occurred and that there was a particular outcome. Thermopylae was a battle between the Greeks and the Persians, it was a heroic effort to withstand an invasion of Greece and it bought enough time for the Greeks to gain strength and repulse Persia. This simplified narrative is agreed upon by all, it is taught to children in school and it still manages to retain coherence when viewed through the distorting lense of American cinema. Yet the Nakba has always been a problem for the Israeli's and has forced them time and again to review how they are to deal with it yet never with any success.
In many ways, how we choose to commemorate May the 15th says a lot about us in the Arab world. Those of us who remember it as something from the past and, to put it biblically, with much "wailing and gnashing of teeth", miss the point. The Nakba did not happen and end in 1948, it has continued to this present day. You can see the Nakba in Gaza, in the refugee camps and, dare I say it, it has expanded to Iraq. However, from the Nakba we also saw the birth of resistance. From the heroism and selflessness of al Husseini and the resistance in 1948, to the battle of Karameh in '68, Beirut in '82, Iraq today and the South of Lebanon in 2006. The struggle against occupation continues, as it does against those who collaborate. May 15th reminds us of the tragedy which befell a people, our people but also strengthens our resolve to resist and to push on. Am I the last person to talk about resistance from the comfort of my home, in a country which was Israel's midwife? Perhaps, but just as a first person is necessary in a set, so is the last, and it is belonging to the set and playing your role in anyway possible which is what counts. The only thing, the easiest thing, for us to do is to forget, to count ourselves defeated or irrelevant. Each of us has a moral duty to resist zionism, empire and neo-colonialism in all aspects of our lives and it will be a poor excuse to say, one day, that you were only being realistic. The enemies of Palestine know that every person they kill or bomb they drop only creates more determination to fight them, that their time is running out. Sixty years on, the dream of ending Israel is that little bit closer. Sixty years on, the struggle continues.