Nakba, Palestine, 1948

Over the course of the war of Israel’s statehood — over 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes.

Amongst Palestinians this loss of home and land is known as the Nakba [al-Nakbah, Arabic for catastrophe]

I was cataloging a resource, Palestinians in Syria: Nakba memories of shattered communities by Anaheed Al-Hardan and was trying to determine some good subject headings.

Reading the table of contents, the back of the book and the preface — it was clear that this was a resource partially about the shared memories/feelings/affect that the Nakba had on the Palestinian people.

A cursory search of LCSH revealed that there was no heading for this particular expulsion [which I could then propose a subdivision of — Influence under]

Thus I created a proposal for the term — this is that proposal:

010 $a sp2017000197

040 $a MWalB $b eng $c DLC

150 $a Nakba, Palestine, 1948

450 $a Catastrophe, Palestine, 1948

450 $a Nakbah, Palestine, 1948

550 $w g $a Israel­-Arab War, 1948-­1949

550 $w g $a Population transfers $x Palestinian Arabs

670 $a Work cat: 945105294: Palestinians in Syria: Nakba memories of shattered communities, 2016: $b Preface (…the Nakba, or catastrophe, that resulted from the establishment of the state of Israel on Palestine in May 1948. This catastrophe saw the dispossession of more than half of historic Palestine’s population, some 800,000 people.)

670 $a 854503654: Auron, Yair. ha­Shoʼah, ha­-teḳumah ṿeha-­Nakbah, 2013: $b (English title: The Holocaust, the rebirth and the Nakba)

670 $a 820884307: Masalha, Nur. The Palestine Nakba, 2012: $b Introduction (1948 was the year of the Palestine Nakba (Catastrophe), the uprooting of the Palestinians and the dismemberment and de-Arabisation of historic Palestine.)

As you can see, I added two additional sources demonstrating the preferred form of the name and to generate UF references.

Yesterday the PSD evaluated my proposal and rejected it for the following reason:

Nabka refers to the 1948 expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from British Mandate Palestine (today’s Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jordan). The existing heading Population transfers—Palestinian Arabs is synonymous, or nearly synonymous, in meaning to the heading being proposed; it should be assigned to the work being cataloged. The proposal was not approved.

While I’m unsure why the PSD defined the term for me, when I’d clearly understood it myself in the proposal, the second half is completely wrong.

I then sent Libby Dechman [the policy specialist responsible for the list] the following email [and a big thank-you to Anna-Sophia for reading it and providing me with feedback!]

Dear Libby,

Having seen the PSDs decision to not approve the above heading, I was hoping to have an opportunity to explain why I think it is a necessary heading.

In the explanation given you write:

“The existing heading Population transfers—Palestinian Arabs is synonymous, or nearly synonymous, in meaning to the heading being proposed”

The crux of my objection is that it is not at all synonymous with Population transfers–Palestinian Arabs, because it is only an instance of that. My proposal specifically included Population transfers–Palestinian Arabs as a BT term, because there are other instances where this happened.

1. From 1949-1956 thousands of Palestinians continued to be removed after the Nakba.

2. In 1967, 280,000 to 325,000 Palestinians were removed after the Six Day War.

3. In 1991 some 200,000 Palestinians were driven out of Kuwait aftter the Gulf war.

4. In 1999  roughly 1000 Palestinians were expelled from South Mt. Hebron


In the event that the problem lay in my construction of the proposal, a named event in accordance with H1592, I had considered two other constructions:

1. Palestinian Arabs–Palestine–History–Expulsion, 1948 (c.f. Acadians—Nova Scotia—History—Expulsion, 1755; Jews—England—History—Expulsion, 1290)

2. Palestinian Arabs–Relocation, 1948 (c.f. Japanese—Canada—Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945)

I had also considered the BT Forced migration–Palestine

My point is that this occurrence, the Nakba, is but one among many, an instance among the general–a perfect example of a BT/NT relationship. Some resources are written about the general and various forced movements of the Palestinians, and other resources are written about the specific instance of the Nakba.

I hope I’ve justified why I think this heading deserves a second look and why it is not synonymous with Population transfers–Palestinian Arabs.

I appreciate any guidance you can give me on a better or more fit construction if you deem that necessary.

Thank you so much for your time,


I’ll update this post when/if I hear back.


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