Palestinian Memory and Hope

They are asking for only $14,000, and their request greatly strengthens recognition of the Palestinian cause. THEY are a group of dedicated activists who are devoting time and energy to create an initial Nakba Museum of Memory and Hope within a building of the Adam’s Morgan neighborhood, Washington, D.C.

Total exposure to a world that is apathetic to the violence committed on the Palestinians will require a huge but not impossible sum from the wealth in the bank accounts of those who sympathize with the Palestinians, which is probably 90 percent of the world’s people. It is time to act and start obtaining funds for highlighting the ongoing destruction of the Palestinian people? The initial Nakba Museum of Memory and Hope is a test case.

Mass slaughter of a people by deliberate actions ? medieval French Cathars, Central American Mayans, Indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere, enslaved from Africa, Jews in the World War II holocaust, Tutsis from Rwanda, and many others ? have distinctive characteristics. The destruction of the Palestinian people is unique; in a world of enhanced education and communication, several decades of intensive violence committed against the Palestinian community continues with no respite. Encompassing all aspects of life ? economic, social and psychological ? the suffering portends only one finish, the end of Palestinian culture, identity and life. The obvious characteristic that distinguishes the severe oppression of the Palestinian oppression from oppressions of the past is that it remains in motion, and, unlike the brutalities of the past, can be halted and rectified. This is not happening and the opposite is occurring. While the decades old World War II holocaust is constantly portrayed in media ? books, film, theater, video ? as if it is extant, the extent of the ongoing Palestinian tragedy is scarcely noted.

An earlier article, “Palestinian Nationalism,” described the effects of the constant violence committed upon the Palestinian community.

A state is not only a matter of borders; it is a matter of survival. The Palestinians want to gain what all peoples need for survival ? a self- identity that derives from being part of a state that protects its citizens. Loss of safety results in loss of trust and loss of self-identity.

Nationality and religion enhance identity and provide an answer to ontological security. The latter two words are more than an esoteric expression. They define what the Palestinians lack and most need. An absence of ontological security has accelerated deterioration of the Palestinian community, a process caused by severe Israeli repression.

Ontological security “is a stable mental state derived from a sense of continuity in regard to the events in one’s life…. Meaning is found in experiencing positive and stable emotions, and by avoiding chaos and anxiety. If an event occurs that is not consistent with the meaning of an individual’s life, this will threaten that individual’s ontological security. Ontological security also involves having a positive view of self, the world and the future.”

Many of the 418 villages destroyed by Israel after the 1948 war and the remaining others are known from extensive village genealogy. Ancestral conversations recall village history and geography. History books, plays, songs, television and radio echo the repetition and awareness of the past. In Jordan refugee camps, shops and streets have been named after destroyed villages. After 1948, the names of fighters killed in the conflict have been suffixed with their ancestral locations. To emphasize a common identity, peasant attire has become national symbols. Many Palestinians, during a period when they were able to enter Israel, returned to their villages to retrieve artifacts and record the visits on video tape. And not to be undone, the youth find ways of keeping village memories alive. These memories connect the dispossessed Palestinians across their separated borders.

The Nakba Museum of Memory and Hope advances ontological security and deserves support. Start with this small group; observe how fast they proceed and how much money they raise. If they succeed, grassroots participation in promoting the urgency of the Palestinian cause will be satisfied. Continue the process to implement a multitude of similar actions, significant endeavors that raise the conscience of the world’s population and challenge the oppression.

An immense amount of funds from the United States to Israel supports the oppression of the Palestinians. Immense funds will be needed to counter the deceit that finances the oppression.


Dan Lieberman publishes commentaries on foreign policy, economics, and politics at  He is author of the non-fiction books A Third Party Can Succeed in America, Not until They Were Gone, Think Tanks of DC, The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name, David L. McWellan). Read other articles by Dan.