Al Karameh - The Symbol

Translation / Interpretation / Caption Text

Arabic translation: Al Karameh (the battle of) is a symbol of defiance and steadfastness


"The name al Karama, which as chance would have it means “dignity”, became a symbol intensely exploited by Palestinian nationalist groups both to expand their ranks enormously with fresh recruits, and to put pressure on the Arab regimes to allow them greater freedom of action, and this relatively small battle soon helped make the PLO a force to reckon with in Arab politics. Like the commando actions the Palestinians carried out against Israel on other occasions, both before and after this battle, the results were far greater casualties for them than for their foes, and little change in the purely military balance of forces with the Israeli enemy. Thus, the battle of al Karama was a case of failure against overwhelming odds brilliantly narrated as heroic triumph. This portrayal of failure as a triumph and defeat as victory was to almost become a stock in trade for the PLO. A case in point was the debacle in Jordan in September 1970, when the Palestinians were unable to discipline their own ranks, a constituent group of the PLO, the PFLP, provoked the Hashemite regime beyond tolerance with a series of aircraft hijackings, and the Jordanian army finally reacted by routing the PLO in a crushing campaign which became known as Black September."

Source: "Palestinian Identity: The Construction of the Modern National Consciousness", by Rashid Khalidi