A quick remembrance
Zahra was sitting on a small balcony of her own house, drawing on a small piece of paper, the sun and a playful cat.
And then suddenly, someone knocks on her door. She hears her mother scream.
Her father, a robust and loving farmer, runs and grabs her by the shoulders, lifting her up, dragging her out of the house.
The small drawing paper was laying down on the balcony floor, left behind like all Zahra’s memories.
She never saw that house again.
She is still on the run, living now with her own granddaughter, in a certain refugee camp, where there are no papers to draw on, no water to drink, no roof.
It has been 66 years now that Zahra had to escape Palestine.
This was called “the Naqba”, or simply, “the catastrophe”.
Once upon a time, the land of Palestine was populated by a people known as the Palestinians. These people have always been known to be religiously diverse, with the Muslim majority maintaining friendly relations with Christians, Jews, and Druze, that lived happily all together.
And once upon a time, at the turn of the 20th Century, a new Jewish nationalist ideology called Zionism was developing. It called for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The number of Jewish Europeans who immigrated to Palestine, caused the Jewish population to grow from a tiny minority to 35% of the population.
We are now in 1947. The United Nations chose to divide Historic Palestine into two, giving 55% to the Jewish population and 45% to the Palestinian population, who rejected the division of the land on which they had lived and farmed for centuries.
A year later, Israel declared its independence, but chose not to name any borders for the land, after the war of 1947-49.
Israel came into existence on 78 percent of Palestine, a percentage that seems to increase in years. 750,000 Palestinians were expelled to close by countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.
Zahra and her family were among those people. They lived the “Naqba”, which is the Arabic translation for “the catastrophe”.
Today, in Lebanon alone, 447,328 registered Palestine refugees live, around 53 per cent of them live in the 12 recognized Palestine refugee camps and suffer from serious problems, including poverty, overcrowding, unemployment, poor housing conditions and lack of infrastructure.
In Syria, over half a million Palestinians were registered refugees, more than 50% of them displaced. In Jordan, 2 million registered Palestinians refugees try to survive.
But Zahra is still dreaming of going back home. She still tells her granddaughter, Fatima, about how it was, to live and dream in your own land.
Credits: Children of Palestine in pictures (http://occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/children-of-palestine/)