Monday, May 15, 2017, marks the 69th commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948. The date commemorates the the period between 1947-1949 when Palestinian villages were destroyed and more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced and transferred by Zionist armed forces. Israeli historians like Benny Morris refer to this event that was the foundation for the Israeli state as “necessary,” stating that “There was no choice but to expel that population.” Other Israeli historians like Ilan Pappe refute this necessity and call it an intentional plan of “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid.” ***
The Israeli state has never taken responsibility for this foundational illegal and ethically outrageous act. Today, 6.6 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants are denied their Right of Return, a fundamental principle of international human rights and humanitarian law. Furthermore, the Nakba did not end 69 years ago, but continued in episodic waves. Israeli practices during the 1967 War produced the forcible displacement of 130,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Today, the displacement of Palestinians operates through consistent attacks and pressures targeting communities like Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Naqab (Negev) and Palestinian residents of the West Bank. The precarious position of Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East puts them at greater risk for multiple displacement in countries like Syria.
Today, Nakba Day, is also the 29th day of a mass hunger strike waged by more than 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails. The hunger strikers are facing serious health conditions. Their strike demands basic human rights and decent treatment in Israeli jails. They also demand end to the illegal policy and practice of administrative detention through which Palestinian prisoners are held indefinitely in captivity without charge or trial. Israel has imprisoned an estimated one million Palestinians since 1948.
Return is the Foundation for Peace and Justice
No matter their location, Palestinians face pressures of discrimination, expulsion and violence by the Israeli state. The majority of Palestinians are themselves displaced or are descendants of displaced persons. Thus, on the 69th Nakba Day, we continue to affirm in the strongest manner possible the legal, moral and political necessity of implementing the Right of Return according to UNGA 194 for every Palestinian refugee and without stipulation. The status quo has further entrenched the ongoing Nakba and the violation of all people in Palestine. The international community’s deep entanglement in creating and maintaining this status quo is especially notable in 2017, when we will also mark the 100-year-anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 50-year-anniversary of the 1967 Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Ending ongoing displacement and implementing the right of return are the building blocks to addressing the daily and structural inequalities that exist and achieving justice.
Nakba Day Roundup
“Return is Possible” infographic by Visualizing Palestine
“The Nakba in the Words of Palestinians” on Palestine Square blog by the Institute for Palestine Studies
“Palestinians take to the streets for Nakba Day” on Al Jazeera English
“Nakba Day attests to the power of our grandparents stories” by Amjad Iraqi on +972
“When I Failed to Say Farewell to You…” by Ibtisam Azem on Jadaliyya
“Focus On: Palestinian Refugees” on Al-Shabaka
“BDS: Upholding our Rights, Resisting the Ongoing Nakba” by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee
“Thousands of Palestinians commemorate Nakba Day in West Bank, Gaza” on Ma’an News Agency