GUEST BLOG: Lois Griffiths – I Didn’t sell My House..They Stole It



May 15, Nakba Day, is an important date for the Palestinian people. It’s the day when Palestinians  commemorate their history and their culture. While Israeli nationalists and Zionist supporters celebrate the forming in 1948 of the State of Israel, the ‘Birth’ of Israel, Palestinians remember the Nakba , the catastrophe, ie, what was done to the indigenous people.

It’s a memory that the Israeli regime has tried to outlaw, to erase. Decades ago Israel deliberately renamed, ie ‘Hebrewised ‘, village and geographical locations. Some destroyed villages were covered over with pine forests, hiding evidence that people had lived there. 

 George Orwell has pointed out that, 

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

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 Palestinian academic Edward Said warned,

“Part of the main plan of imperialism… is that we will give you your history, we will write it for you, we will re-order the past…What’s more truly frightening is the defacement, the mutilation, and ultimately the eradication of history…” 

The Israeli historian Ilan Pappé has coined the word  ‘memoricide’, to describe the Israeli efforts to erase knowledge and evidence of a Palestinian past.

The Nakba is more than a historical event. It is an ongoing process. The Nakba continues today as Israel continues to destroy houses and olive tree orchards in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as Israeli forces  continue to attack Gazan fishermen and bomb Gaza. Heavily armed West Bank ‘settlers’ are openly violent with impunity.

Writer and journalist Ramzy Baroud says about the ‘birth’ of Israel,

 ” That blood-stained birth callously required the destruction of an entire nation; people with a unique history, language, culture and collective memory. It was thus absolutely necessary for the Palestinians to be wiped out to quell any possible sense of Israeli guilt, shame and legal and moral responsibility for what has befallen millions of dispossessed people.” “The Nakba is not merely a question of history, but an ongoing reality that has affected several generations of Palestinians. It is not a celebration of victimhood, but the impetus for an ongoing resistance. It is not an ‘event’ assigned a specific political context and analysis, but is now a state of mind; the Palestinian people’s strongest rapport between them and their past, present and future.”

 “The old will die: the young will forget” hoped  Ben Gurion. He was referring of course to the Palestinian people. (Actually Zionists try to avoid the very word Palestinian, preferring to say ‘Arab’, as the word ‘Palestinian’   is a reminder that the Palestinian people exist.)

Yet Palestinians, including the diaspora, have not forgotten  their history, their culture including their poetry, their music, their embroidery, their food.  

Palestinian-Australian poet Samah Sabawi writes “My Palestinian identity was shaped by food and poetry”. “I write and I cook” she explains. “I create a Palestinian feast of delicious verses”, to remind her children “where we come from.”

The most famous Palestinian poet is the late Mahmoud Darwish. He articulated the hopes of his people. 

“We Palestinians suffer from an incurable disease called “hope”. Hope for liberation and independence. Hope for a normal life where we shall be neither heroes nor victims. Hope to see our children go to school without danger. Hope for a pregnant woman to give birth to a living baby, in a hospital, and not to a dead child in front of a military control post. Hope that our poets will see the beauty of the colour red in roses, rather than in blood. Hope that this land will recover its original name:

Land of hope and peace. “

Do Palestinians still ‘suffer from ‘hope’? 

Just a few days ago, 22 April, ie during Ramadan, violent Jewish nationalist  extremists rampaged in East Jerusalem, at the entrance to the Old City with its access to Al-Aqsa Mosque,  shouting “Death to Arabs”. 

‘Medical apartheid’ is contributing to  the surging of Covid-19 cases  in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

 Surely an important lesson to be learned from the Covid-19 crisis is that we, global civilian society, are all in this together. We need to pressure our leaders to publicly condemn the Israeli regime and to bravely speak out in favour of  promoting  one democratic, secular state in historic Palestine with equal rights for all.

Quoting Martin Luther King,

“ Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”

This is a ‘Kairos’ moment. Kairos is the Greek word used by South African clerics in the days of South African apartheid and Palestinian clerics today, declaring that the situation is so urgent that change must be demanded now. 


Lois Griffiths is a Human Rights Activist.


  1. Can relate to this we (Maori) didn’t sell most of our land they (NZ GOVT) stole it and guess what now we have to buy it back.

    • And most Maori stole thier land from other Maori. The only difference is that the crown didn’t completely wipe out or enslave the Maori that they took land from….. history didn’t start in 1840.

      • Kim you overlook many things and simplify your thinking expressed.
        Maori tribal groups did raid and plunder then white men brought guns, and other Weapons of mass destruction.
        A treaty was signed at 1840. Maori under the treaty had the right of protection from the queen
        But white greed saw force being a way of taking and and decimating the natives both of which they did. British soldiers were brought in to wipe out resistance of the land theft.

        You can muck around with details but that won’t help understanding of what was done.

        • You do realize that the protection they asked for and were suppose to have been given wasn’t from whites? It was from other Maori. I’m not saying wrong wasn’t done by the whites. i’m saying it didn’t start here.

          • After 1849 the crown was the alleged agency of protection.
            Yes tribes had affiliations with others but it was the British who stole the land and much of it ended up in the names of European administrators.

            The slaughter in the Chathams by Ngati Mutunga and others with white men’s guns using white men’s sailing ships was around 1835 so no protection from the treaty applied.

  2. No history did not start in 1840 cause Polynesian have always been here for thousands of years. And I would say colonisation is not any different from being enslaved. Maori and Pasifika are the colonisers words. As for Maori stealing thier land from other Maori who said?

    • “Polynesian have always been here for thousands of years”….nope!
      Nothing has been found that is more than 800-900 yrs old (carbon dating) in pa’s or old settlements.
      Unless they took everything back in their canoes when they left.
      NZ was populated by Maori/Polynesian travellers about 900yrs ago (give or take a century), not thousands of years.

  3. In 1839 The NZ Company established by Gibbon Wakefield freshly released from an English prison for rape and abduction claimed huge tracts of Hutt Valley land as their own, is this not stealing Kim and before the TOW was signed.

  4. In 1839 The NZ Company established by Gibbon Wakefield freshly released from an English prison for rape and abduction claimed huge tracts of Hutt Valley land as their own, is this not stealing Kim and before the TOW was signed.

    • Te Wharepouri who agreed to sell them land had no idea of how many settlers may come. There were about 400 Maori on the Te Aro area and they were soon outnumbered several times over destroying the environment and ecology of the area..

  5. “If I don’t steal your home, someone else will steal it,” was the answer given by an Israeli settler to Mona al-Kurd, a young Palestinian woman who accused him of stealing her home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in the occupied East Jerusalem.
    The dialogue, captured on video by Palestinian activist Tamer Maqalda on Saturday, shows 22-year-old al-Kurd confronting the settler in the garden of her family home.
    In the video, al-Kurd is heard telling the settler in English: “Jacob, you know that this is not your home.”

    The settler replies in a thick US accent: “Yes, but if I go, you don’t go back, so what’s the problem? Why are you yelling at me?”
    “You are stealing my house!”
    “If I don’t steal it, someone else will steal it,” Jacob answers. “So why are you yelling at me?”


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