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Journey From A Palestinian Refugee Camp to America
 
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November 16, 2010
 

Another Year of Defiance

I just came back from the visit to the old cemetery in the original Palestinian refugee camp in Nahr el Bared. On the first Eid day, people clean and visit the cemetery. The last three years however this visit has taken a new dimension. Typically as far back as I remembered less than 25 per cent of the residents visited the grave yard. However, in the last three years, the visit has become a symbol of defiance for more than 90 per cent at least of the adult population participates in this twice annual ritual.

It was a good chance for me to see old friends that I have not seen for many years. Walking the half mile towards the cemetery was interrupted by kisses and hugs with ex student mates, old neighbors, camp compatriots and teachers alike.

The area of the original camp was either graded, or compacted for construction or taken over by growing weeds. We were not allowed to venture beyond the road to the cemetery. I walked by the area where I used to spend my summer days on the beach. But my physical memories were not there. The only part of that past was the presence of sea water. The quiet waves, and marble like Mediterranean surface brought me back to my childhood, but the shores hugging the old cobble stones have disappeared. 

I was taking photos when two army officers called me and asked to stop taking photos. I looked at them with detestation and moved on.  As I wrote in “Children of Catastrophe” and this year again, I felt as all my childhood and young teenage life has been lost. The place where I played, labored and fished has disappeared forever!