The never-ending story of erasing Palestinians

So what’s the connection with the Nakba and the name of El Al plane that landed in Abu Dhabi?

By Yaser Abu Areesha. Translated by Sol SalbeMiddle East News Service

Superficially the El Al plane bearing the name Kiryat Gat that took off yesterday to Abu Dhabi, is just a random plane from the airline’s fleet. The entire fleet carries names of localities around the country, such as [Mizrahi populated] Beit She’an and [Druze] Daliyat al-Carmel for example, so as not to leave anyone deprived — Except for [Palestinian/Arab] Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm, but that’s fine, it’s par for course in the State of Israel.

However, a Palestinian viewpoint would approach the matter of the name from a slightly different perspective, one that goes back in time to the unhealed wound festering since 1948: the Palestinian Nakba.

So what’s the connection with the Nakba, now? There is always a connection. The city of Kiryat Gat, was built and expanded on the lands of two displaced villages that stood there until 1949, and these are the village of Iraq al-Manshiyya and the village of Faluja, which were the last villages to fall and disappear from the map.

Not that I have high expectations from El Al, which introduced improper security inspection procedures for its passengers and has more than once treated Arab passengers in a degrading manner, but I want to believe that it may really be just a coincidence, that the Kiryat Gat plane was chosen to fulfil the task by chance. After all, virtually every name could evoke some story of some village on top of which a kibbutz or moshav or some other township has been built. But there’s one fact that cannot be ignored, the history of the last two villages erased in the Nakba and become a distant memory and nostalgia, and which yesterday, a plane bearing the name of the new town built on their ruins was on its way to the capital of an Arab country that is supposed to be on the side of the Palestinians, but reality shows that this is probably not the case.

The act of erasing the Palestinians and eliminating all their connection to this land, is something that never ended, it began more than seven decades ago in the displacement and demolition of the villages, continued with the military rule that crushed Palestinian society between 1948–1966 and left its destructive mark for generations, and continues to this day. And the examples are many. See the struggle in Jaffa over the al-Assaf cemetery, over which the Tel Aviv municipality is trying to promote construction. This recent struggle has once again raised the issue of erasing Muslim tombs and cemeteries from the area, which has been the norm in quite a few cases, one of the most infamous cases being Tel Aviv University’s application to the state (according to documents revealed by my friend Uzi Loya) in 1974 to increase its allocated zone by taking over the cemetery of the displaced village of Sheikh Muwanis, on the ruins of which both the University Campus and the Ramat Aviv neighbourhood were built.