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May 16, 2016

On 'Nakba Day,' a Beersheva 'Refugee' & AFP Time Warp

May 16 Update, 8:52 a.m. EST: AFP Corrects Photo Caption on Palestinian Refugee

Much has been said about the United Nations' unique definition for Palestinian refugees, probably the only group of displaced people in the entire world whose descendants also receive refugee status.

Among this group of special refugees -- the descendants of those Palestinians who fled or were expelled in 1948 --is a smaller, more rare group of time-defying Palestinian refugees: though they were born after 1948, somehow, inexplicably, they were there in 1948.

Five years ago, for instance, on "Nakba Day," Haaretz interviewed 57-year-old Salman Fakherldeen, who miraculously remembered events from 1948, seven years before he was born.

This year, Agence France Presse photographer Said Khatib apparently located another example of this rare breed of a post-1948 refugee, "refugee Aisha, 53," formerly of Beersheva. The photo and caption follow:

afp refugee beersheva 53.jpg

The caption states:

Palestinian refugee Aisha, 53, who says is a former [sic] inhabitant of the town of Beersheva, waves a group of keys outside her home in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on May 15, 2016, on the 68th anniversary of the "Nakba".

"Nakba" means in Arabic "catastrophe" in reference to the birth of the state of Israel 68-years-ago in British-mandate Palestine, which led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who either fled or were driven out of their homes during the 1948 war over Israel's creation. They key symbolises the homes left by Palestinians in 1948.

Aisha, who is reportedly 53 years old, could not have fled or been driven out of her Beersheva home 68 years ago, as the caption strongly suggests. She possibly could have lived in Beersheva and decided to move to Gaza for marriage, for example, but then she is not a "refugee" forced out of her home in the 1948 war, as the caption clearly implies.

Was Aisha an inhabitant of Beersheva? If she was, why did AFP conflate her decision to move with the fate of Palestinian Arabs who left in 1948 and became refugees? If she opted to leave Beersheva, how exactly, is she a "refugee," as the caption identifies her?

CAMERA has contacted AFP to request a clarification. Stay tuned for an update.

Posted by TS at May 16, 2016 05:29 AM

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