May 15, and We’re Still Surviving…

It’s May 15. Israeli Independence Day. Nakba Day. Israelis “celebrate” this day. We Palestinians “commemorate” it. “Celebrate” and “commemorate” mean entirely different things. As Americans, we “celebrate” July 4. We “commemorate” September 11.

Without getting into too much detail (which, I’ll tell you, is painfully difficult for a Palestinian), May 15, 1948 marked the creation of the Israeli state. It also marked the commencement of the world’s longest-running policy of ethnic cleansing. The state of Israel is nothing if not persistent.

About 70% of Palestinians live outside of Palestine. And we’re successful everywhere we go. There’s nothing special in our DNA. We just don’t have a “Plan B.”

We’ve always had to struggle. We are notoriously hard workers. And we don’t take vacations. It’s not because we wouldn’t like to lie on a sunny beach somewhere. We just don’t like leaving our houses for more than a couple days. We remember what happened last time we did that.

As a Palestinian, I am angry at Israel. It’s not because it steals our land and houses.  I’m sure we’ll figure all that out one day. It’s not because they kill us indiscriminately. We’re good at reproduction. (Incidentally, for all those non-Palestinian women who don’t know, we’re also very good at “practicing” reproduction.)

I’m mad for the same reason my first girlfriend was mad at me… because Israel is a damn liar!

They are masterful at it, of course.  Israel makes Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and George W Bush look like amateurs. Israel is the Kaiser Sose of nations, convincingly fabricating history, and making everyone believe it.

Israel’s compulsion for nontruthfulness started with what has now become its most famous lie, namely that Palestine was “a land without a people, for a people without a land.”

It must be said neither Jews nor Israelis coined this slogan. But it wouldn’t be the first time Israel has stolen something and used it for its own benefit.

This lie has always especially pissed me off. The “people without a land” part is easy enough to swallow. But “a land without a people?”

Israel, I know you’ve been trying to deny our existence forever, but seriously, no one believes you anymore. The party is over.

If Palestine was a land without a people, who lived in the 400 villages you destroyed in 1948?

If Palestine was a land without a people, who are those millions of stateless people living in those 59 UN refugee camps, going to the schools with the blue-framed windows?

If Palestine was a land without a people, who lived in Akka, Safad, and Eilabun? Who lived in Deir Yassin?

If Palestine was a land without a people, why are you smoking hookahs, saying “yalla”, and eating hummus?

See, I don’t care that the Israelis want to live in Palestine. Ahlan wa sahlan. I care when they pretend that we don’t exist.  If Israel wants to make hummus, that’s fine with me. I had some Israel hummus last time I was there. It was delicious. They learned well. Hey, we make a lot more pizza here in America than Italians do in Italy. But at least we have the decency to put an Italian flag on front of the shop.

Israel is pretending like we don’t exist. It’s still pretending that it arrived upon a “land without a people.” It’s very annoying. I know now how a lady feels when she sleeps with a guy, sees him a couple days later, and he totally ignores her. Ladies, I feel your pain. Israel gave me the old “wham bam thank you ma’am.”

So every May 15, we remember what Israel did. And Israel doesn’t like it. Today, Israel killed 12 Palestinians on the borders of Lebanon and Syria. They died because they dared to remind Israel that they still exist.

On this Nakba Day, though, I am not sad. Every Palestinian walking the earth today, whether it be in Ramallah, Lebanon, America, or Australia, is basically a survivor of Israel’s attempts to wipe us, and everything about us, off of the face of the earth.

So, to my fellow Palestinians I say… Congratulations! We’ve lasted another year, and we show no signs of surrender. Israel, just accept us already. Your plan to exterminate us failed. It’s time to throw in the towel. Nakba Day is now “Survival Day.”

“A land without a people?!” Then who the hell am I?

Thanks to Israel, I didn’t forget. Each Palestinian knows what his particular history of displacement is. Each feels that attachment to a shared experience, provided by Israel, which binds us all together. As a Palestinian, I wake up daily, with a hole in my heart. And I try to fill it… by eating as much hummus as I can.









About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."


  1. Very well said! I totally agree with you!! The problem is when we open our mouths to say all this we become terrorists and killers! Go figure !!!

  2. Amer, I second Hiyam, this is so excellent. Please continue to send more! All of your writing is amazing and deserves the hugest audience.

  3. Amer,

    The voice of Palestine will never be silenced, thanks to people like Amer. Let’s all keep remembering, struggling and of course LAUGHING.

  4. Keep it up Amer. Here in America, we at least honor the natives of the land we… inherited. We may have wiped them out, but at least give’em a few paragraphs in history books. I mean, what would Thanksgiving be like without having them in paintings and stuff, right?

  5. 4.5 Million of so called Palestinians are refugees. They can give us any damn identity they like….we will never be anything other than PALESTINIANS! If not this year then next, if not that year then another…sooner or later we will return and enjoy a beautiful Comedy show on the beach of Haifa!

  6. We will never forget. Our children will never forget, and their children will remember what has happened too. The roots of the olive trees haven’t forgotten; every stone in Jerusalem knows my name and every wave crashing against the Haifa shore is waiting for me to return. 63 years of waiting and longing. We have not forgotten and will never forget. We will return.

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