In a panel discussion in Columbia University last week, commemorating “60 Years of Nakba – The Catastrophe of Palestine 1948-2008,” Lila Abu Lughod, a professor of anthropology and gender studies at the university, emotively told the audience how her father, Ibrhaim, had been expelled from his hometown of Jaffa in Palestine in May 1948.

Expelled? This is not exactly how Ibrhaim Abu Lughod himself described the circumstances of his flight in a 1990’s television documentary he prepared and presented with his friend and colleague Edward Said:

There was a Belgian ship, and one of the sailors, a young man, looked at us – and the ship was full of people from Jaffa, some of us were young adults – and he said: “Why don’t you stay and fight?” I have never forgotten his face and I have never had one good answer for him.

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