64th Amsterdam Nakba Commemoration
By: Abbas Hamideh
Under the theme “Niet Normaal” (Not Normal) Moroccan activists in solidarity with Palestine organized the 64th Nakba Commemoration (Palestinian Catastrophe) in Amsterdam which was held in a Moroccan community center in an area heavily populated by the people of Morocco. At the helm of this event were organizers Sadika Arab, Imane Mahi, Rachid Eznaden (Moroccan activists) and Palestinian Tariq Shadid aka Doc Jazz.
I was invited by these organizers and activists to participate in this 64th commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba in Amsterdam to speak on behalf of Al-Awda, The Palestine Right Return Coalition (www.al-awda.org) an orginaztion I have been involved in since its inception dating back to the year 2000 based in the United States. Being a direct descendant of the village of Deir Yassin and son/grandson of survivors of the Deir Yassin Massacre which occurred on April 9, 1948 igniting the Nakba, I was asked to speak in particular about Deir Yassin something I often do at Palestine events and of course the Right of Return of Palestinian Refugees.
It was an interesting journey for me to arrive in Amsterdam for my very first time not in Europe but in the Netherlands. I immediately met with my Facebook and Twitter friends whom I’ve known for quite a while and some for a couple of years communicating via social media on our computer and smart phone screens. The time had come where we met in person for our common passion on Palestine for an important event that most Palestinians especially those active in the Palestinian struggle participate in annually in and around May 15 of every year which officially marks the Palestinian Nakba.
For me as soon as I landed and got off the plane I felt as if I have landed in Morocco due to the Moroccan influence in the part of Amsterdam (West) I was in. As promised by some activists I indeed felt as if I was home. It was very interesting to see not only the Moroccan side but the Islamic influence in the area as well where it was almost impossible to miss. Traditional Muslims were everywhere and highly visible not only on the streets but they rode their bicycles, vespas (motor bikes), rode the trams and buses. It was literally a piece of Morocco. For me living in the United States my entire life and rarely exposed to such measures or modes of transportation this was very intriguing to me especially a high concentration of Arab/Muslims. Of course to those who lived in Amsterdam this was something extremely normaal (normal).
The time had come for the actual Nakba event in Amsterdam on May 12, 2012 and finally once arriving with a local friend of mine Dina who helped in navigating the location we met with fellow Palestinian Tariq Shadid aka Doc Jazz who was smiley as ever and as expected an extremely humble Palestinian. Doc Jazz and I have been close friends for a while via social media and kept constant communication regarding Palestine related events and issues. Palestinian flags were immediately present in the room, sound system and band equipment for Doc’s performance after the speakers, Arabic Oud instrument player all ready to roll for this event in the diaspora. Coincidentally the master Oud player was the infamous political cartoonist who created Handala Naji al-Ali’s cousin. Having a family member of the iconic Palestinian Naji al-Ali present in the room for this important event (especially playing my favorite musical instrument) gave me this incredible vibe and energy.
The event was almost immediately packed with people in attendance who came to support this important function especially for such a staunch pro Zionist city and country. As someone who’s been involved in Palestinian activism for a very long time this was a good sign for the Palestinian struggle in general especially after the constant battles of fighting smear campaigns against not only Palestinians but those in solidarity with the plight of the Palestinian people. I was personally elated with the Moroccan solidarity which filled the room as expected! Wonderful Moroccan food was also served like fish and chicken stuffed patties amongst other delights. The hospitality was awesome!
At the beginning the event ice breaker kicked off with some phenomenal Oud playing and some serious heartfelt Palestinian tradition revolutionary songs! People in attendance were clapping in harmony with the Oud instrument. As a Palestinian this brings both high emotions and at the same time an incredible amount of energy. These are Palestinian folk songs our parents heard before us and also passed down to us. These are songs of pride, persistence, and revolution like no other. This is the part where I would say you must be Palestinian to truly understand the importance and energy of such Palestinian meaningful folk songs. It is something that the Palestinian soul connects with!
The solidarity speeches came from some Dutch activists, talks of trips to Palestine by Moroccan activists and one in particular Hanane who spoke about her recent denied entry to Palestine (moderated by Sadika Arab) via the Israelis due to not succumbing to their very intrusive tactics of violating visitors by wanting their personal security codes and passwords to their computers and phones. She was banned from entering for 10 years for not offering her personal security password on her phone after spending a night in detention at Ben Gurion Airport. A trademark of “The only democracy in the Middle East.” Doc Jazz spoke about anti normalization with the zionist state and the importance of not normalizing with a racist and fascist ideology. All the speeches and talks were communicated in the Dutch language except my speech on Deir Yassin and the Right of Return along with a mention of the current Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prisons which was in English. The great thing was that everyone in the room spoke English as well due to English being a second language in the Netherlands.
After all the talks and speeches on Palestine Commemorating the Nakba the evening continued with some awesome Palestinian Dabkeh that forced Doc Jazz and myself to perform the Palestinian dance due to being the very few Palestinians at the event (Amsterdam has hardly any Palestinian residents). The Dabkeh dance looked great to the majority of the Moroccans there but rest assured Doc and I were relieved that there weren’t Palestinian Dabkeh experts in the room because our experience in the Dabkeh was very basic…
The event finale was obviously the Doc Jazz performance! Tariq Shadid also known as Doc Jazz is a very skilled Palestinian surgeon, singer, artist and activist. Coming all the way from the UAE gave his usual phenomenal performance with his very unique songs on Palestine, freedom and justice! The crowd was definitely in excitement mode and some also participated in singing along with Doc Jazz as they were his fans from his Facebook and Twitter pages. You can easily find Doc Jazz on Facebook and Twitter or check out his award winning website http://www.docjazz.com where you will also find his songs of course.
I commend the brave and committed organizers in Amsterdam and everyone who participated in this spectacular event commemorating the 64th Nakba in Amsterdam and for keeping the flames of Palestine alive and well! The continuation of the Palestinian Nakba is definitely Niet Normaal (Not Normal)! It was extremely difficult saying goodbye to such fine activists who share a common bond in the Palestinian struggle. To me this is usually the most difficult part after concluding an event as I hold those who actively struggle for Palestine near and dear to my Palestinian heart!
Until Return and Liberation of Palestine from the River to the Sea!
Follow Abbas Hamideh on Twitter: @Resistance48
Facebook: Abbas Falasteen Hamideh
Follow Al-Awda, The Palestine Right To Return Coalition on Twitter: @AlAwdaPRRC