Mahmoud Zwhare’s family was driven out of the village near Jerusalem, which they had farmed for generations, when Israel was created in 1948. His grandparents fled to the village of Al-Ma’sara in the West Bank, where Mahmoud was born and brought up. Mahmoud is now on the Popular Commitee which resists Israel’s land theft in Al-Ma’sara. Here he talks about what the Nakba meant for his family in 1948 and how it continues to impact him today.
My grandfather is a refugee from Al-Malhah, a small village to the south west of Jerusalem.
He was living in this village with his family, who were farmers, in 1948.
After they were forced out in 1948, my grandfather would say: “They uprooted us from our land and homes, the same as you uproot the tree from the field. We will never taste the meaning of real life until we come back to the land that we inherited from our fathers and grandfathers.”
My father has told me about the quality of the vegetables and fruit that his father produced, and how they would go to Jerusalem and to Jaffa to sell their goods.
My grandfather was involved with the Abed Al Qader and Al Hussieni groups, which resisted against the Zionist movement. I will never forget my father telling me how their members were repressed by the Israelis, violating their rights even after they had been forced from their land – my grandfather was arrested for his involvement in the resistance even after being made a refugee.
After they were driven from Al-Malhah, my grandfather’s family went to friends in the village of Al-Ma’sara, in the West Bank.
My grandfather sold the wool from his mattresses and my grandmother’s jewellery to buy a piece of land in the village, because he didn’t want to lose his connection with the land.
He passed the ownership papers of his home in Al-Malhah onto my father, and now my father keeps these papers in an iron box.
My family still lives in Al-Ma’sara, where I am part of the Popular Committee which peacefully resists Israel’s occupation and the Apartheid Wall it is building through our village.
For me, it brings great sadness to see how my grandfather suffered from the Nakba, and to witness my father today living with the building of the Apartheid Wall and the fresh colonisation of the land which his father bought after the Nakba.
My grandfather would say: “It is a shame that we’re reduced to beggars at the hands of the United Nations after being farmers who sent our products everywhere.”
For us Palestinians, the Nakba means injustice, the terror of the Zionist movement and the world’s betrayal of us.
But we are all able to resist this settler-colonialist project through the actions of our daily life and through popular unarmed resistance.
From the ash of the Nakba, we rise to resist.