Author : Hugo van Randwyck | Readings : 169 | Date : 2012-08-14
Celebrate Palestinian Culture Day or the Nakba? Palestinians would like refugees to return, their land returned, freedom to move in Palestine, have good leaders, and work as a united team. Each year around the world there are Palestinians who comemorate 'the Nakba', on the 15th May.
Why comemorate the Nakba of 1948 expulsions? It is military defeat, a time of fragmenting the Palestinian people, a loss of land and life. Each year more Palestinian land is lost and lives are lost. In fact, we can see that after comemorating the Nakba year after year, the patterns of loss have repeated themselves. With Palestinian leaders and in some cases refugees themselves, expelled from the Lebanon, from Jordan, from Kuwait, and general distrust and second class status in the region. - and more dispersal. Refugees have been in camps for 64 years, maybe the Nakba approach has been part of the problem?
How about celebrating something positive, things which are good about Palestinians, a way to bring Palestinians together and the world to see?
In London, Canadians celebrate Canada day, The Dutch also with music and food, the Irish also with music and food and even once, Irish playing the harp, also Chinese New Year and off course the Americans celebrate Independence day as well. At these events you will see lots of people who do not come from the country that is celebrating, they come to enjoy the festive atmosphere, the music, the food. How about Palestinians doing something similar, in different cities around the world?
What could be celebrated by Palestinians? How about dabke, food, dance, music, stalls for Palestinian businesses. Let people in the world see the Palestinian culture, which will show them another side of the story. Perhaps even lessons on dabke, hearing the oud, or even the darbuka drum. Perhaps, if there is different food from different parts of Palestine, that could also be there. This celebration would bring Palestinians and other people together, for a positive reason.
This doesn't mean that history is not explained to non-Palestinians. It means that comemorating a military defeat is not helping in the Right of Return, and after 64 years, a positive approach is worth looking at. A positive vision, of unity, culture, joy and working together.
Are there other things that could be done around 15th May? Yes, of course. How about a spring clean of houses and refugee camps? Any time refugees are told they can return, they would need to pack their belongings/furniture and clean their current homes and move. So, practicing for returning, by cleaning their current homes - as if about to move - in the week leading up to the 15th, is a way of positive action and shifting from reactive to pro-active. Another idea is to carry an example Voter Registration Card, in their pockets, showing town and district of origin, e.g. Haifa, Acre, Jaffa, Jerusalem, as a way of 'being the change'.
Something that could be done during the year, is increasing the number of Palestinians in the refugee camps who read, write and speak English. Also ensuring that each website for refugee camps has an English page - this will help with people from other countries, reading the news directly, without being filtered by western media. There are likely more ideas. All these ideas help with better communication with people around the world.
It is also making a choice, between more struggling and looking backwards, or looking at innovative ideas for communicating with people around the world and looking forwards.
A celebration of Palestine Culture Day, instead of comemorating the Nakba, will help from moving from a failed approach to a positive one. A change of pattern and habit, to help with new opportunities. Something that brings people together, in joy and celebration and positive support.
Hugo van Randwyck is an implmentation consultant, who has travelled to Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and the Lebanon, on holiday and als visited Sabra Shatilla. He feels the media in the West rarely sees or hears the refugees and diaspora and that the Out of Country Voting (OCV), showing town, district and country of origin, will help in communicating better with the public in the world. He has been contributing to a Facebook page promoting the idea of OCV: