Palestinian Americans mark 75th Nakba at Washington Monument

Hundreds from the diaspora gathered for the event

A Palestinian flag is waved during the Nakba rally at the Washington Monument. Willy Lowry / The National
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Hundreds of Palestinian Americans gathered in the shadow of the Washington Monument to mark the 75th Nakba Day.

For Palestinians, Nakba, which translates to catastrophe, refers to the events surrounding May 1948 and the creation of the state of Israel, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced from their homes, starting a multi-generational odyssey of displacement that persists to this day.

“I am out here supporting Palestine, commemorating 75 years of the Nakba, and the horrible atrocities that happened,” said Tamara Dissi. “I'm just out here representing my people and my community.”

For Ms Dissi, who grew up in California, the day conjures up “complicated” emotions. Like so many, she was raised far away from her ancestral land and was forced to learn about it through family stories.

“I'm a Palestinian but I'm a person in the diaspora,” she told The National.

“My family were immigrants and we suffered horrific atrocities at the time, and there is just a lot of sadness, but there's also a lot of heartbreak and nostalgia for a country that I can never return to.”

Many in the crowd waved Palestinian flags and were draped in white and black chequered kafiyas.

The sombre occasion was very much a family affair. Walid Hashem took his four children to the National Mall for the event.

“It is very important. I mean, without this what would the kids know living here abroad far from our ancestors?” asked Mr Hashem, as he held his one-year-old daughter, who wore a traditional black and red patterned Palestinian thobe.

“We have to teach them where they came from.”

This year’s commemoration comes amid rising tension in the region. Israel and Gaza militants agreed to a ceasefire on Saturday after five days of violence that saw 33 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip killed and two Israelis.

In the Occupied West Bank, at least 94 Palestinians have been killed this year by Israeli forces, a continuation of last year's escalation in violence in which 146 Palestinians and 21 Israelis were killed, the most since 2004, according to the Israeli advocacy group B'Tselem.

Updated: May 14, 2023, 9:24 PM