The Late Dr. Edward Said recounts his family’s expulsion from historic Palestine.
My own immediate family was spared the catastrophes of what we call the Nakba of 1948. We had a house and a business in Cairo even though we spent most of the year in Palestine.
Two thirds of the Palestinian population was literally driven out of the country approximately one million people by the Zionist forces.
I was twelve at the time, but I do recall certain things with distinct lucidity. Every member of my family became a refugee during that period—no one remained!
Our part of Palestine, west Jerusalem, controlled by the British mandate belonged to Israel now. People who lived there were suddenly made homeless and in many instances penniless, disoriented and scarred forever.
I saw most of my family after the fall of Palestine, but all were greatly reduced to circumstances, their faces stark with worry, ill health and despair. My extended family lost all of its property and residence. The faces that I once remembered beaming with glee now were lined with the cares of exile and homelessness.
Serial dislocation became the predicament of many Palestinians. One of my uncles went from Palestine to Cairo to Alexandria to Bagdad to Beirut and now in his eighties lives a sad silent man in Seattle wearing the key to his home in Palestine around his neck hoping to return someday.