ISSN 2330-717X

What Cost Israel – OpEd


By Jamal Kanj*

Much had been argued about the creation of Israel and the ensuing 1948 ethnic cleansing of non-Jewish Palestinians. Sadly, however, most had become a desensitized academic debate, a lifeless abstract portrayal failing to depict what it really meant for one to be a refugee without a country.

On this 68th commemoration of the Nakba (or catastrophe), I wanted to show what it meant to one Palestinian refugee.

On May 15, 1948, Zionist Jews danced and firecrackers burst over the streets of New York, celebrating the founding of Israel. About the same time, and on the other side of the world, Zionist terrorists’ mortar exploded in the middle of Jebal Al Luz (Mountains of Almonds), burning homes and forcing civilians to flee their village.

During the middle of the night, Abu Musa carried his physically disabled blind mother on his shoulders. His wife, Um Musa picked up their infant bab,y Musa, and joined a throng of refugees escaping for their lives. Abu Musa’s family hid in a ditch on the outskirts of their village. The morning sun exposed the scattered refugees hiding in nearby bushes and under trees.

Sorties after sorties, Zionist planes strafed the area pushing the villagers further north towards Lebanon. Under heavy gunfire, panicking civilians ran in all directions. Abu Musa picked up his newborn son and ran for his life. Um Musa followed in his footsteps. Panting for air an hour later, Abu Musa realised he had left his blind mother behind.

Zionist forces continued to bomb from air and ground. Abu Musa attempted to go back, but all was in vain. The next day and during a lull in the Zionist terrorist bombardment, Abu Musa went looking for his mother. But she was nowhere to be found. He came across local villagers who returned to check on their properties. They told him they had just buried the remains of what had appeared to be an elderly woman. Her body ripped apart by animals.

“Was my mother eaten alive by wild animals? Or had she been murdered by Zionists?” Those questions haunted Abu Musa all his life. The loss of his country and mother were just the start of his lugubrious life until his death in the mid-1990s.

Abu Musa ended up settling in the same camp as my parents. In addition to baby Musa, he had three more children in the camp, two boys and a girl.

Musa, who had left Palestine as an infant, joined the revolution in the early 1970s and returned to Palestine. He was murdered by the Israeli army and buried in an unmarked grave. Abu Musa, who did not see his mother’s corpse, was unable to see or bury his eldest son either.

A short time after losing Musa, Abu Musa became disabled. I made it a point to call on him whenever I visited the camp. It broke my heart during the last visit before his death as I watched him crawling out of the bathroom like a little baby. I knelt down and kissed him; he kissed me back and then asked, “Who are you, my son?”

Calamity was a continuum for this one refugee. In the early 1990s, his youngest son, Kama,l was murdered while he was on his way to school in Tripoli, Lebanon. He was butchered in the year he would have graduated from high school.

For Israel, Abu Musa and the other Palestinian refugees like my parents were dispensable nuisances. In a 1948 foreign ministry study, Israel predicted the refugees “… will waste away. Some will die but most will turn into human debris and social outcasts … in the Arab countries.”

To Israel’s chagrin, the grandchildren of Abu Musa’s surviving son and daughter did not turn to “human debris.” Sixty-eight years later, Abu Musa’s progeny is more determined to find and bury their great-grandmother’s remains, in their original village.

*Jamal Kanj ( writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. He contributed this article to (A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.) 

Palestine Chronicle

The Palestine Chronicle publishes news and commentary related to the Middle East Peace Conflict.

2 thoughts on “What Cost Israel – OpEd

  • May 16, 2016 at 9:23 am

    What a load of garbage. The Jews were nice, they won and they didn’t destroy and kill all the Arabs and Muslims. Had it been the other way around and the Arabs and Muslims won, there would be no Jews left. Just look at the Muslim world and see how they chase out all minorities. The Jews were fighting because they were invaded, having accepted the partition plan, which actually gave the Arabs and Muslims most of what they wanted.

  • May 18, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Instead of spreading messages of hate and mistrust thru evil manipulations and one-sided victimhood, its about time that the writer and the rest of the arab world, accept the existance of a free independente and democratic Jewish state , and invest their energies towards positive directions such that will serve to pave bridges of coexistance, tolerance and mutual respect for the bennefit of future generations.

    The anti-Israel propaganda and demonization being promoted by this article represent a one-sided and unjust narrative, since displacements of peoples in the Middle East certainly didn’t start with the creation of the State of Israel.

    This reality has been happening for thousands of years all over the world, and one can pick your preferred displacement to make any political point one wishes.

    There is no doubt that if the if Israels independence War would have ended with different results, the arab world, following the words of its leaders, would have written another blooded chapter, on the noumeros atrocities against the Jewish people, only some year after the terrible results of the hollocaust.

    Contrary to the mentioned in your artice, following Israel independence as the only democracy in the Middle East, and even more after the resoults of the 76 war end the liberation of Jerusalem, I recommend you to visit Jerusalem, the eternal Jewish capital, and enjoy from the religious freedom were Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others worship cheek by jowl.


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