The Nakba

The Palestinian catastrophe of 1948

Authored by: Alexander Flores

The Routledge Handbook of Muslim–Jewish Relations

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415645164
eBook ISBN: 9781315675787
Adobe ISBN: 9781317383215


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Nakba, Arabic for “disaster,” is the term used to describe events in the Zionist-Palestinian conflict, starting with the UN Partition Resolution on November 29, 1947 until the end of the ensuing war in January 1949 and seen from the perspective of the Arabs of Palestine. The term gained acceptance in Arab political discourse after the famous Arab nationalist writer Constantine Zurayq used it for the events of 1947/48 in his book Maʿnā al-Nakba (The Meaning of the Disaster) (Beirut 1948; English translation, Beirut 1956). In the Zionist view, this period was the crowning achievement in the effort to transform the pre-state Jewish community (“Yishuv”) into a sovereign state and to consolidate and expand this state in a war against the Arab Palestinians and neighbouring Arab states. Conversely, for the Palestinian Arabs, the Nakba represented a disaster, resulting in the destruction of Palestinian-Arab society. The bulk of the Palestinian population was expelled and dispossessed; the Palestinians who stayed in Israel became a minority and suffered discrimination, and most of them were also dispossessed. The inhabitants of those parts of Palestine remaining under Arab control were severed from the rest of the country. All Palestinians were deprived of their right to self-determination.

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