On my way home tonight, I spotted the usual flower peddlers out of the corner of my eye, but this one’s shirt caught my attention. Clearly it was a knock-off Gap or Abercrombie design.

“Do you know what today is,” I asked. He seemed confused. “What?”

May 15 is the annual day of remembrance for the exodus of Palestinians, known in Arabic as the Nakba (catastrophe) when hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes in 1948. Many fled on foot with few belongings on their back to neighboring countries like Lebanon, where some 400,000 of their decedents now live in impoverished shantytowns.

It was only two years ago during a march on this day that 15 Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers in south Lebanon and two more were killed by Israeli troops in today‘s commemoration.

Now hundreds of thousands of new refugees flood into tiny Lebanon from another war, from Syria; many, like the man above, have resorted to selling roses on the street to deal with this new wave of gripping poverty. Can anyone blame them for not knowing the history? Will their exodus also be forgotten one day, like the refugees that came before them? Hopefully humanity has learned some things along the way.

For more on the Nakba see this new documentary below, published yesterday. It was shared with me by my friend, longtime journalist Massoud Derhally, who also posted this great photo archive of historic Palestine produced by The Times of Israel. Be sure to follow him on FB for more articles on the continuing struggle Palestinians face today.


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Habib Battah
Habib Battah is an investigative journalist and founder of the news site beirutreport.com. Battah has covered Lebanon and the Middle East for over 15 years and teaches journalism and media studies at the American University of Beirut. He is a contributor to Monocle, The Guardian, BBC World, Al Jazeera and others, a former fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University and two-time recipient of the Samir Kassir Press Freedom Award. Battah's investigative work was recently recognized for outstanding local reporting by the Columbia University Oakes Award for Environmental Reporting. Battah earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. in Near East Studies and Journalism from New York University.


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