Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The week of remembrance

This week, as we remember the holocaust, Palestinians would also have us remember another catastrophe, their Nakba. With her grandmother, Dina Elmuti remembers Deir Yassin, 55 years ago yesterday, on April 9, 1948. May we also learn from this remembrance and vow "never again." To read this posting on the Electric Intifada, see:  
"Transcribing the vivid details of the account engraved into the fabric of her memory, I am transfixed by all that she’s held onto for 65 years. From paper to pulse, I write the story buried deep in her consciousness to affirm her truth. Without her, it never would be written at all.
I study the lines on my grandmother’s face knowing behind every one there is a timeless story of unmitigated pain, survival and hope. This story, where the continued dispossession, suffering and oppression of the Palestinian people began, is one that refuses to be silenced or forgotten. It is the story of Deir Yassin.
Remember the date: Friday, 9 April 1948, a day of infamy in Palestinian history. My grandmother was nine years old at the time of the Deir Yassin massacre and every day since she has lived with a steadfast commitment to never forget.
Thursday, 8 April, ended like any other in the small, quiet village. My grandmother and her younger sister returned home from school to complete their composition assignment entitled Asri’ (meaning “to hurry” in Arabic). She recounts that detail animatedly. Like other children their age, she wanted to complete the assignment in order to enjoy the next day off.
The excitement, however, was short-lived. I can’t help but think of the irony in the assignment’s title. Asri’ — it’s almost as though it were a premonition of sorts.
The following day, entire families ran hurriedly in sheer terror, fleeing the only homes they had ever known to escape a bloodbath. By dawn on that Friday morning, life as they had known it would never be the same again. Deir Yassin would never be the same again.
Fathers, grandfathers, brothers and sons were lined up against a wall and sprayed with bullets, execution style. Beloved teachers were savagely mutilated with knives. Mothers and sisters were taken hostage and those who survived returned to find pools of blood filling the streets of the village and children stripped of their childhoods overnight.
The walls of homes, which once stood witness to warmth, laughter and joy, were splattered with the blood and imprints of traumatic memories. My grandmother lost 37 members of her family that day. These are not stories you will read about in most history books.
Bitter symbol
The Deir Yassin massacre was not the largest-scale massacre, nor was it the most gruesome. The atrocities committed, the scale of violence and the complexity of the methods and insidious weaponry used by Israel against civilians in the recent decade have been far more sadistic and pernicious. But Deir Yassin marks one of the most critical turning points in Palestinian history.
The author's great-uncle, Muhammad Radwan, outside of the family home in Deir Yassin
A bitter symbol carved in the fiber of the Palestinian being and narrative, it resonates sharply as the event that catalyzed our ongoing Nakba (catastrophe), marked by the forced exile of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, creating the largest refugee population worldwide with more than half living in the diaspora.
Deir Yassin is a caustic reminder of the ongoing suffering, struggle and systematic genocide of the Palestinian people, 65 years and counting. When the village was terrorized into fleeing, tumultuous shockwaves of terror ran through Palestine, laying the blueprint for the architecture of today’s apartheid Israel.
Sacred Ground

I have been fortunate enough to see Deir Yassin and step foot on its sacred ground. Deir Yassin remains a permanently cemented and rigorous reminder of the spirit that has never permitted defeat. Despite the illegal settlements, pillaging, plundering and human suffering that took place, my grandmother’s home stands with resolve just as she does today...."