So We Never Forget

A few years ago, back when I was a college student, I was talking about Palestine and Israel with some colleagues and a colleague, who's had most of his school education in a gulf country, says: "but Israel has always been there. Tel Aviv has always been part of Israel, not Palestine!" It's been just a bit over 60 years and many of us have forgotten. What would happen 20 years later? No one will know what Palestine is?

I keep wondering how the Arabs of that time let this disaster happen, but then I remember that we were nothing but colonized countries. And whether I want to believe it or not, regretting will get us nowhere. The truth is that now, there's no country called Palestine on many maps; It's either Gaza and West Bank or Palestinian territories at best. I don't see Palestine being free anytime soon with all their political groups fighting and the people not finding a leader. But I know for sure that we shall never forget Palestine, no matter how long it takes to free it.

Never forget that there was a country called Palestine that was forcibly sold to Jews to have their "Promised Land" and steal people's homes, safety, memories and their whole country. No matter who you are, Arab or no Arab, don't accept injustice to others as you wouldn't to yourself. Know the truth before judging, remember who the terrorists are, who stole whose country.

Since today was Land Day, I've decided to go back to reading the book I was reading about Palestine. I stopped a few weeks ago, because it hurt so badly. But last night when I read it, I felt that my heart was sucked out of me. I'm going to tell the part of the story that I read yesterday, and if you speak Arabic the story is Radwa Ashoor's El Tantooreya, please read it. And I wish it would be translated to as many languages as possible, so the whole world would never forget.

A family of a husband, a wife, two sons and one daughter lived in a small town called Tantoora, it happened in 1948. Rokkaya, the daughter, tells the story of a home of five family members and three refugees from another town that had been stolen from its people earlier. At first she didn't hear it all happen, she was asleep, but then her mother came in and woke her up. She told her to wear three dresses, even though it was a hot summer night, and to wake up the refugees and tell them to do the same. They took cheese and olives, closed the big gate of their house, the one that they never close, and left to the house of the mother's uncle, without the father and the brothers.

All through their walk they heard gunfire, bombs and screams, they saw corpses drowning in their own blood of people they knew and didn't know. The town felt different, there was not a sound but that of bombs and screams. It smelled different, the smell of the sea and the plants were now mixed with the smell of blood. And the view, corpses and mess everywhere, no more happy familiar faces.

The women walked to the relative's house and a few hours after they got there, they came for them. The Zionist army... They stood them in lines, called names, stole all they owned and put them into buses to take them out of the now Zionist town. With the army, stood a man covering his face with sackcloth, whoever didn't obey the army's rules was given the name of by the sackcloth faced man and taken somewhere. Rokkaya heard the sounds of screams coming from the direction they took those people, but she couldn't do anything about it.

Through all the time they stood in line, Rokkaya kept looking for her father and brothers, but there were no sings of them. After robbing them of all they have, they started putting them on buses. As Rokkaya climbed the bus, she looked behind her and saw a stack of corpses in a stream of mixed blood. She screamed so loudly and pulled her mother's arm, the mother looked, saw the corpse of her cousin and started screaming, yet not as loud as Rokkaya, because this wasn't why Rokkaya screamed. She saw the corpses of her father and brothers right in front of her eyes, but her mother has failed to see them, as if she had suddenly turned blind. For years, her mother believed that her sons had fled to Egypt and her husband was held captive at the Israeli prisons. And since that day, and until Rokkaya was able to tell someone what she saw, she lost the ability to speak.

The women were thrown in a refugee camp where the townspeople have helped them with food and shelter. Old men started to die, so did babies, and even those who were still alive were dead inside. Later they had to leave again to an even further camp because the Zionist army had taken over the next town. Rokkaya's mother decided that it's time to leave, they knew Rokkaya's uncle and aunt lived in Saida in Syria and that's where they decided to head. The mother had been able to hide a few coins from the Zionist army and she split them with the woman who used to be a refugee at her house, and to Saida they left. During their journey, Rokkaya fell sick and her mother ran out of money. She had to beg in the street to have enough money to go to Saida.

Then eventually they got there... but it was only a matter of time before they had to flee again... And the story never ends... And we... shall never forget.


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