Today, May 15, we recognize the 75th anniversary of the Nakba — which literally means “catastrophe” and refers to the forced displacement of Palestinians that began with the establishment of the state of Israel. In 1948, Zionist paramilitaries and Israeli forces expelled some 800,000 Palestinians (over 75 percent of the existing population) from their homes under threat of bombings, mass executions, and other forms of violence.
To commemorate the day, we’d like to share some resources from our partners and allies as a way to learn and share more about the Nakba — and so together, we can take action for justice and human rights.
The Ongoing Nakba
Palestinians and solidarity activists have recognized that the Nakba is not simply one event, but that the Israeli government’s entire settler colonial project of expansion, expulsion and land and water theft is part of an ongoing Nakba. Just as paramilitaries in 1948 murdered and expelled Palestinians and wiped villages like Deir Yassin from existence, the Israeli military is attempting to demolish villages like Masafer Yatta, drive people out of their homes, and engage in what many recognize as a slow-motion genocide.
The Ongoing Nakba Through the Eyes of Masafer Yatta
Masafer Yatta is a small village in the West Bank near the city Hebron/al-Khalīl. For years the Israeli government has blocked Palestinians there from bringing in building materials; from building new roads; from getting food and water to their families and livestock. At the same time, the Israeli military has sent in tanks, soldiers, and bulldozers to destroy the villagers’ homes, their schoolhouses, and other infrastructure.
As the video below from our partner Stop the Wall Campaign makes clear, the Nakba continues in villages like Masafer Yatta. In 1948 some Palestinians fled to Masafer Yatta, where they now seek to remain in their homes against yet another attempt to expel them. Remaining steadfast in spite of decades of violence and home demolitions, families have resorted to living in nearby caves.
Please share this video with your friends and networks!
… And Through the Eyes of Gaza’s Children
Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, the head of the our partner organization the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, sees one particularly awful impact of the ongoing Nakba: the trauma and emotional distress the children of Gaza carry from years of Israeli blockade and bombings. A recent report from Save the Children found that 80 percent of children in Gaza reported signs of emotional distress. In this most recent round of attacks, 33 people were killed in Gaza, and 2 in Israel. The recent ceasefire may provide some room to breathe, yet it cannot bring back the precious lives of those who were killed, and the impacts of the violence are long-lasting.
As Dr. Yasser describes in a piece posted today:
“How can there be a return to ‘normal life’ when conditions here are so dire that the UN has issued repeated warnings that Gaza may soon become unlivable? How can our children recover a sense of safety when they’ve never felt safe? Even after the ceasefire, Israeli military drones buzzing regularly overhead trigger their traumatic memories, heightened by the knowledge that another assault is inevitable. At GCMHP, we do our best to address this trauma and bring hope but the ongoing reality of violence and deprivation stifles healing processes.
“I don’t want Gaza’s children — including my own kids — to merely survive. I want them to thrive and reach their full potential in peace, security and freedom, as all children should be able to do. It is our duty as mental health providers, teachers and parents to support these children.”
Please read and share the entire message from Dr. Yasser.
“We Teach Life, Sir”
In recent weeks, we have seen the Israeli military bomb whole apartment complexes, resulting in the deaths of entire families in Gaza. Yet Western media has all too often framed killings like these only in terms that attempt to justify the bombings — driving a narrative that ends up dehumanizing Palestinians. They turn these deaths into short media sound bites that remove all the context of colonization, occupation, and state violence.
In this poem recorded in 2011, Rafeef Ziadah deconstructs these narratives, conveys the pain and frustration of facing this dehumanization as a Palestinian, and lifts up how time and time again — in the face of so much death and destruction — Palestinians center life.
Take Action with the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
Learning about the Nakba is essential. But we also have a responsibility to act.
The US government provides more than $3.8 billion per year to the Israeli military which continues its settler colonial violence against Palestinians in the interest of controlling more Palestinian land, water, and territory.
In the words of President Joe Biden — words he has repeated regularly since he first uttered them in 1987:
As people of conscience and those committed to social justice and human rights everywhere, we must say no. Not in our names. We must not be silent or complicit in the face of the ongoing Nakba, the ongoing colonization of Palestine, and the US government’s military support for it.
To that end, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights has several suggestions for how to take action today in solidarity with Palestine and in commemoration of the Nakba:
- Join a #Nakba75 event or protest.
- Learn more about how your tax dollars are used to arm Israel.
- Tell Congress to stop arming Israel.
Stand in Solidarity
We recognize the importance of the 75th anniversary of the Nakba. But we know our solidarity must extend beyond just one day. So whether you are a longtime supporter of Palestinian rights or just joining the movement, please join us in building the kind of steadfast global solidarity that is necessary to see, someday, a free Palestine.