Every year Palestinians mark the Nakba – “catastrophe” in English – when in 1948 around 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes during the creation of the state of Israel. 500 villages were destroyed in a premediated campaign, and their inhabitants never allowed to return. Zionist militias, who later became the “IDF”, committed massacres in Deir Yassin, Lydda, Tantura and dozens of other Palestinian communities.
A critical understanding of the Nakba is essential as it continues to shape Palestinians’ experience. Palestinian society was all but destroyed, with refugees scattered around neighbouring states and across the world. The ethnic cleansing never ended, and continues today, with hundreds of Palestinians losing their homes due to Israel’s demolition policies in 2015, and the Palestinian Bedouin suffering repeated dispossession and displacement in the Naqab/Negev desert in Israel, to give a few examples.
Israel continues to deny Palestinians their fundamental rights, including, crucially, the right of return. While Israel’s Law of Return entitles automatic citizenship to Jews born anywhere in the world, Palestinian refugees are denied the right to return to their homes and land, from which they were expelled.
Millions of Palestinians live in refugee camps in Israel’s neighbouring countries, and the occupied Palestinian territories, with many having been made refugees two or more times. Many Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip are refugees from the ethnic cleansing of 1948. Palestinian citizens of Israel (those who remained steadfast on their land, surviving the ethnic cleansing) are today subjected to dozens of discriminatory laws and other forms of systematic racism.
Well over half a million Jewish Israeli settlers continue to colonise Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, with settlement expansion rising dramatically under the Netanyahu government. These illegal settlements displace Palestinians, cutting them off from their land, monopolising scarce water resources and subjecting them to frequent attacks from armed settlers, who are protected by regular Israeli forces.
The centrality of the Nakba to the Palestinian struggle was underlined recently by a Pew poll, which found that almost half of Jewish Israelis believe Palestinian citizens of Israel should be expelled. Israel continues to deny the historical facts of the Nakba through every legal, cultural and political means possible.
Join us to commemorate the Nakba around the country and say ‘no more’.