The North America Nakba Tour
NECEF Sabeel Canada
On May 14, 1948, as Zionist leader David Ben Gurion was proclaiming a Jewish state in Palestine, his heavily armed troops seized the ancient Palestinian Arab town of al-Zeeb and drove out most of the inhabitants. 17-year-old Mariam Fathallah was one of them. She and her young husband, Mohammed Atayah and their families were forced to flee to Lebanon, along with most of the town. By the end of the year, the 4,000 year old community had been leveled to the ground. More than half the Arab Palestinians in Palestine were killed or expelled and more than half of the cities, towns and villages of Palestine were made to disappear, a crime that Palestinians call al-Nakba (the Catastrophe).
Mariam, now 85 years old and respectfully known as Umm Akram, has spent the last 68 years in crowded, makeshift refugee camps in Lebanon. She has raised three generations in the same camps, all waiting to return to their home in Palestine. She has lived through five Israeli invasions of Lebanon, as well as the 1976 Tel al-Zaatar camp massacre that killed more than 2000 of the refugees there.
Umm Akram wants to talk to you. So do Amena Ashkar and Hiba Abu Khreibeh, the granddaughters and great granddaughters of Nakba survivors, who also have known no other home than refugee camps.
Umm Akram, Amena and Hiba have a different message from other Palestinians. They are not living under Israeli occupation. Israel does not allow them to visit their homes, much less live there. Amena and Hiba have never met an Israeli, and Umm Akram not since 1948. As exiles, they have a different perspective from Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the part of Palestine that became Israel.
The Tour is brought to the Canadian public in cooperation with the Palestinian Canadian Congress, the Free Palestine Movement, the Al-Awada Coalition and Canadian Friends of Sabeel.