The Nakba in Photographs and Memories آدم بن سهيل عبدالله سمارة

by Adam Bin Suhail Abdalla Samaara

The Nakba is something that we escape from to our dreams, it is the nightmare that we wake up to and the injustice that we, the Palestinians, live. We can see it, hear it and feel it everywhere, but nowhere is it as unrelentingly inescapable as in Palestine, our homeland, and around those of us remember the beginnings of that 70 years old crime. In Spring 2018, I visited my homeland alone for the first time, though I was accompanied by all my friends and family in spirit. I kissed Palestine for them and gave her accounts of her children’s stories and she didn’t let me leave without promising that I’d tell them and the world of her pains. It was a very powerful experience of beauty, inspiration, sadness and love from which I brought these photographs, which can tell the story of the Palestinian struggle better than I ever could. Each of these pictures is a memory, a story, a piece of our collective pain and of our undying resistance. I invite you to glance at them, not as political statements, but as voiceless witnesses to our suffering and steadfastness, who can take you by the hand and show you the world that confronts us.

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Generations

Generations

The story of our common pain and resistance sprouts out of the generational heritage of the Palestinian struggle. My grandmother, my father and myself. Three generations of refugees contained in one snap. How can I transmit more than seventy years of searching for a place that we could call home? It is what I have inherited. It has always led us back to the longing and to the struggle for our original homeland. It is something that we can never abandon. And it will never abandon us.

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Looking for Home

Waleed has been on a quest to find his home his whole life. Living and working in the USA, he later decided to return to Palestine and start a business there. In his words and his eyes I could see the same longing that we all share – to live a full and free life in our homeland.

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Centuries

Perhaps no other city can tell our story as well as Jerusalem, where we have lived and loved for centuries. What is one life in comparison to all our history? Oppression comes and goes and one day it will be only a memory as distant as the Occupation flag in this photograph.

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Rush

We can, however, hardly experience all of history in our life and are left to tend to our daily duties. Such as these Palestinians in the Al-Aqsa compound, Jerusalem. Perhaps these ones were the lucky few Palestinians from neighbouring cities who obtained a permission from the Occupation to visit their capital.

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Roots

Roots

One of the Palestinians who might not witness Jerusalem ever again is my grandmother. Now living Amman, Jordan she experienced a life of exile and hardship but she always fought for her rights. One of the ways that she finds effective to quell the pain in her heart is to tend to our family olive orchard near the city. Surrounded by her olive trees, she might be able to believe that she’s back home. Where her roots belong.

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Leaving Al-Aqsa

But even those who entered the sanctuary for a day must leave this island of hope and goodness. Return to the struggle that they were born into. The construction crane speaks itself, loud and clear of what lies beyond Al-Aqsa – walls and fences, checkpoints and settlements.

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Moon over Jericho

No matter how much evil is done to Palestine, it never ceases to strike you with beauty. Perhaps it’s her way of resisting, perhaps her attempt to keep her children strong. This photo was taken on the outskirts of Jericho, by the side of the road where my friends and I were drinking tea and talking. I’d leave the next day, but they had no option but to stay and struggle.

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Falahi hands.

Fallahii hands

Beauty and resistance can hide in anything that a Palestinian refugee does and it can be full of memories. My grandmother is peeling foul (green fava beans) and eating it fresh after I have picked it for her. She is continuing a tradition that is older than herself. A tradition of unbreakable fallahi (peasant) connection with the Earth and its fruits. It is a connection that no walls or weapons can interrupt.

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What's next

What’s next?

As I look at this photo of my little cousin Siif, I cannot help but wonder: What is next for our people? Have 70 years of exile and suffering not been enough? Will he see Palestine free? For now the Nakba continues and it lives on even in his eyes.