Do You Know About The Catastrophe of 1948?

May 15, 1948 is known as al Nakba, and this is why the month of May is marked by death and destruction in occupied Palestine.

Maryam Ismail
4 min readMay 16, 2022


I hear voices singing in my ashes-Adonis

The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, known as the Daughter of Palestine, the correspondent for Al Jazeera news, was targeted and killed in cold blood, last week. And if that wasn’t enough, her funeral procession was viciously attacked by Israeli forces. The pallbearers endured kicks and being battered by clubs as they carried the casket of Abu Akleh. The scene was hard to watch and stomach churning. Her killing comes as a shock firstly, because the place from which she was reporting was calm. Secondly, she was dressed in protective gear clearly marked as Press, which was supposed to give her a level of protection according to international freedom of press standards:

A free press is fundamental to a democratic society. It seeks out and circulates news, information, ideas, comment and opinion and holds those in authority to account. The press provides the platform for a multiplicity of voices to be heard. At national, regional and local level, it is the public’s watchdog, activist and guardian as well as educator, entertainer and contemporary chronicler.

This no doubt is a lofty goal that has yet to be achieved in any nation, democratic or otherwise. Even more ironic, is the fact that despite, Abu Akleh, a Palestinian, who was killed in a refugee camp in Palestine, who was in her over twenty-fifth year as an Al Jazeera correspondent. Yet, the name Palestine does not even show up on Press Freedom website’s lists of nations. So whither the democratic freedom of press, to a people who have been forced into invisibility?

The forced invisibility started with the Nakba, the forced removal of 800,000 Palestinians into the refugee camps, many just tents in the deserts from as close as the West Bank and Gaza and as far as Lebanon and Kuwait. There was another forced expulsion in 1967, where another 20,000 were forced out of their homes. It has been 74 years and the fight of Palestinians for the right not just to return to their homeland, but to stay in their homes in occupied Palestine such as Shaikh Jarrah, which much of the recent battles on the streets of occupied Palestine have been about. This occupation, of settlers who have just kicked Palestinians out their homes with the help of the Israeli defense forces, which has been done, in celebration of the foundation of Israel on May 14, 1948. It is really complicated, and the Israeli side has been told over and over again. But back to the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, according to UNESCO, was possibly a war crime:

“Authorities have an obligation not to harm journalists and to protect them from harm under international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” said the experts. “The killing of Abu Akleh, who was clearly performing her duties as a journalist, may constitute a war crime.”

I know this may seem like a bummer for those of you who come to Medium for the latest get rich as a freelancer scheme, but if you are out there in the trenches, chasing stories, as the say in the industry, this should matter to you.

Worshipers going to pray at Masjid al Aqsa, Ramadan 2022 ( provided by Sawsan)

I have created a short reading list of not so heart wrenching reads, that might wise you up on the Palestinian view of their homeland. The purpose is to inform you away from the news of bombed apartment buildings, that kill entire families of Palestinians. Like that of Omar Abu Al-Ouf, who as he laid for several hours under the rubble of his fallen building, held his 12 year old sister and 17 year old brother in his arms until the died along with this parents, he being the sole survivor of his family. Or, like that of Muhammad al Kurd, who has been fighting invaders longer than Captain Kirk. This is an excerpt from a speech he gave at the United Nations Assembly in New York last November:

When I was 11, I came home from school and saw my furniture scattered across the length of my street in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem. The street overflowed with soldiers, police, and settlers. My neighbors were screaming and protesting. Settlers had invaded our home and taken over half of it. They said it was theirs by divine decree, as if God is a real estate agent.

Al Kurd, remarkably was born on Al Nakba day and is only 24. So, yeah.

The Reading List

Here is my list of reads for those of you who care or are curious:

My Father Was A Freedom Fighter, Ramzy Baroud

Arab Voices Speak to American Hearts, Samar Dahmash-Jarrah

A Country of Words: A Palestinian Journey from the Refugee Camp to the Front Page, Abdel Bari Atwan

Jerusalem in History, K J Asali

The Myth of Muslim Barbarism and its Aims, S E Al-Djazairi

The Arab Rediscovery of Europe, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod

The Scar of David, Susan Abulhawa

Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape, Raja Shehadeh

If you reached all the way to the end of this, I thank you so much💝

This one is for you Nada Chehade.



Maryam Ismail

Mom. Journalist. Pizza maker New School for Social Research Alum, MA in Sociology and Historical Studies.