Colonization of Palestine: Dispelling Myths about the 1948 Nakba

Doctor Writes Book: History of the Colonization of Palestine

Two common statements used to justify the Nakba of 1948 – Palestine was a “Land without a People for a People without a Land” and “Zionists made the Desert Bloom” – are address and explained in Dr. Jamil A. Fayez’s book, Lest the Civilized World Forget: The Colonization of Palestine.

Dr. Fayez explains that the land of Palestine was “inhabited by indigenous Arabs for centuries” prior to the 1947 U.N. Partition was put into place. He cites statistics that “in 1914 there were 570,00 Palestinian Arabs” living in Palestine. Despite these facts, “the denial of Palestinian existence” continues.

Dr. Fayez refers to an incident when Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir stated that there was “no such thing as Palestinians,” which he thinks is an example of “extended ethnocide,” using Professor Edward Said phrase. Resisting this ethnocide includes remember the Palestinian families and communities displaced by Israel.

The myth that the land of historic Palestine was underdeveloped until Jews arrival is also dispelled. Dr. Fayez quotes British documents that describe Palestine as an “ocean of wheat” with a “remarkable” economy. From Palestine’s vast pre-Israel orange groves to its well-documented “beauty,” he argues that Palestine was in bloom without and before Zionist intervention.

Striking Photos and the List of Destroyed Towns

The book includes an official list of “depopulated or destroyed” Palestinian towns and villages. Palestinian residents of these destroyed towns were forced to flee and become refugees in their own homeland. The author goes to great lengths to detail the specifics about the villages’ locations and populations prior to destruction. These pages are interspersed with archival photos of Palestine and Palestinian people’s lives.

Palestinian Memory in Curated Images

Dr. Fayez sourced the photos from both the U.S. Library of Congress and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. They offer a peak into Palestinian life prior to 1948 and of Palestinian refugees in the 1950s and 1960s.

Some images highlight Palestinian agriculture by featuring large orange groves in Bir Salem and bags of harvested flour in Nablus. Other photos center around Palestinian families, focusing on the lives of women, children, and elders in refugee camps.

Many images include children in camps like New Amman in East Jordan and Arroub Camp near Hebron, West Bank, Palestine. The captions emphasize the lack of basic resources, such as adequate housing and food.

A few photographs underscore the importance of Palestinian community, such as a picture of a grandfather holding his grandchild in refugee camp in Jabalia near the northern end of the Gaza strip. A photo of a young women teaching Palestinian girls in an outdoor school reveals the significance of education for Palestinian youth even as they lived in tents in East Jordan.

Colonization_of_Palestine

Refugees of the Nakba: “A Seven-Decade Long Conflict”

The aforementioned list of 452 towns details of the precise location, population numbers, and the exact acreage of each village. Dr. Fayez also lists the name of the Jewish settlement built on top of the land of displaced Palestinian families. In this way, Fayez refuses to shy away from the reality of Jewish settlers living on Palestinian land and memories.

Fayez also includes both the English and Arabic spellings of each Palestinian town alongside additional site-specific data. He concludes the list with an acknowledgment dedicating the book to “all the victims of colonization, past and present, whose homes, business, orchards, and farms have been stolen by settlers from afar.”

History of the Colonization of Palestine: A Moral Obligation Not to “Forget”

Dr. Fayez is committed to this archiving work because he believes that “only through remembering can reconstruction occur.” This memory of the Palestinian persons experience is important not only for Jews, but also for “the West,” and those complicit in Israel’s violence again Palestinian communities.

Dr. Fayez quotes Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, urging Jews to remember the “Arab refugees in whose towns we settled Jews who were brought from afar; whose home we inherited, whose fields we now sow and harvest.” These reminders are what motivate him to continue this vital work.

He considered this project a moral choice to speak to the Palestinians peoples “unspeakable tedium of living in refugee camps while strangers occupy their homes.” Readers are asked to keep this in mind as they read through the lists and witness the images in the book.

Dr. Fayez is a man of peace. He quotes Buber’s argument that “only an internal revolution can heal our people” from the violent history that ties Jews to the creation of Israel. The book works to stir this change.

The Doctor’s Call to Action

Naseer Aruri describes this book as an offering that reveals the “true nature of the Israeli state.” Aruri call the “obliteration of 452 Palestinian towns” one of the “worst examples of ethnic cleansing.”

From the title of the book to the text within, Dr. Jamil A. Fayez has one clear message for the readers of The Colonization of Palestine – do not forget the violence that has happened and continues to happen to Palestinian men, women, and children.

 

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Dr. Jamil A. Fayez is an accomplished obstetrician and gynecologist specializing in infertility. He has dedicated the last 30+ years of his life to cataloging and publishing statistics about the 1948 Nakba. In the third edition of his book, Lest the Civilized World Forget: The Colonization of Palestine, Dr. Fayez provides updated facts and figures about the number of Palestinian villages destroyed or depopulated during the creation of the Israeli state. Dr. Fayez’s justifies his decision to carry on this research and fundraising work, citing the necessity of preserving Palestinian history. He ardently reminds readers that “behind these unfamiliar names exist over 5,394,866 Palestinian refugees who suffer each day.”

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