By Abraham H. Miller, Originally published in the Jewish Journal
“Voices from the Nakba” reads the advertisement for a presentation at Rossmoor, a retirement community in Walnut Creek, California.
The “voices” are those of three generations of Palestinian refugees – a grandmother, her granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. Three generations living in refugee camps as stateless people in Lebanon. At first blush, the poster evokes both sympathy and outrage.
How is it possible? Throughout the history of humanity refugees have never existed in limbo for more than a few years, affecting only a single generation. Yet, Palestinians are living in refugee camps for four generations. And Lebanon, which shares with them a common language, culture and, in part, religion, refuses to integrate them into the larger society.
Wars, ethnic hatreds, whimsical changes in political and economic policies have created millions of refugees. I could try and bring in voices from the 850,000 Jewish refugees who inhabited the Middle East for thousands of years before there was a single Muslim warrior galloping out of the Arabian Peninsula and who, in the 20th century, were thrown out of their homes in the passing of a single historical night. I cannot.