From Nakba to Now, a Palestinian Teen’s Journey of Resilience and Resistance

By Aida El-Hajjar, AGE 14

Humanity’s eyes are watching. Original art by Aida El-Hajjar

My name is Aida, which translates to “the return” in Arabic. I was given this name because, even though my parents are refugees, they were confident I would return to Palestine someday. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, and the hope of returning to Palestine burns brighter and stronger in our hearts now more than ever before. 

The word Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic. However, the catastrophe didn’t start or end in 1948.  This term Nakba has become synonymous with the settler-colonial apartheid project of Israel, which encompasses the systematic processes of ethnic cleansing and occupation of the indigenous Palestinian people and their land. The Nakba has persisted for the last 75 years, but global awareness is growing.

I’m  Palestinian, not a symbol of violence or a political statement; I am a testament to the endurance of people with a rich history and a longing for justice.Being a teenager in America, especially during these times, I often grapple with the challenge of articulating my identity in a world that may not fully comprehend the Palestinian experience, or even consider me fully human. 

October 7 was a critical turning point in Palestinian liberation and resistance. It is imperative to understand the broader context of this attack and to recognize that historical oppression breeds resistance. Gaza has been under complete siege for 17 years and is consequently considered an occupied territory. Israel controls everything that enters or exits Gaza, including its airspace, water and borders. According to international law, occupied people are justified in resisting such brutal occupation. 

As of the publication of this article, Israel has killed more than 19,000 Palestinians (including over 7,000 children) since October 7, destroyed 40% of the homes in Gaza, and dismantled vital infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, water desalination plants, bakeries and United Nations shelters. Israel has committed war crimes including, but not limited to, the use of white phosphorus on civilians, collective punishment,  starvation of civilians, breach of medical neutrality, and targeting of journalists.  

The dominant narrative perpetuated by mainstream media outlets tends to oversimplify the struggles of Palestinians, reducing it to either standing with the state of Israel or standing with Hamas. However, to tell our story, one must understand that it is not solely a narrative of victimhood, but one of resilience, resistance and the unwavering determination to reclaim our identity and homeland because we will return.

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