On 15 May, Palestinians mark Nakba Day, an annual event which both remembers the displacement of Palestinians in 1948 and protests Israel’s continued rejection of their right to return.
This year Nakba Day comes as the Trump administration makes good on its promise to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Today’s opening of the new US embassy comes amid protests in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip. In response, Israeli forces have killed at least 41 Palestinian protesters, wounding hundreds more.
The convergence of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day with these contemporary developments is an opportunity to consider its significance in the past, present and future. Read more
The so-called ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ is not an ancient, tribal conflict, or millennia-old grudge match. Nor, as some propose, is it a tragic clash of competing nationalisms, or a cycle fuelled by religious extremism. The Zionist political project in Palestine has been, and is, a form of settler colonialism. Understanding it as such is important for three reasons. Read more
Last week, as Israelis celebrated their Independence Day, Palestinians in the country’s south held the annual March of Return, walking to the site of one of hundreds of Palestinian villages destroyed between 1947 and 1949.
This mass displacement and dispossession, known as the Nakba (catastrophe), is commemorated internationally each May. But in recent years, Israeli authorities have attempted to clamp down on events to mark the Nakba – most notably through a 2011 change to legislation pertaining to budget allocations. Read more
“If there are other inhabitants there, they must be transferred to some other place. We must take over the land. We have a greater and nobler ideal than preserving several hundred thousands of Arab fellahin.”
Menahem Ussishkin, chair of Jewish National Fund, 1930.
There is a lot of discussion about Zionism at the moment: how to define it, what it means to be anti-Zionist and whether that equates to antisemitism, and so on. But there has been a notable, and instructive, absence in these debates: an understanding of what Zionism has meant for Palestinians. Read more
67 years ago, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine unfolded through expulsions, massacres, and demolitions. Hundreds of villages were emptied, then levelled; centres of Palestinian urban life and community disappeared; columns of refugees took flight at the barrel of a gun.
A society was dismembered and fragmented. In the months and years after 1948, the army of the State of Israel, formed from the militias who had occupied and ‘cleansed’ village after village, used bullets and landmines to keep out the refugees trying to return home. Read more
There was outrage last week when the University of Southampton cancelled a forthcoming conference on Israel and international law, ostensibly on the grounds of “health and safety”.
The university had been under pressure from pro-Israel advocacy groups, and organisers have begun legal efforts against what they see as a concession to outside interference and bullying. The story of the campaign to shut down the conference should not, however, distract from why Israel’s supporters found the topics scheduled for discussion so objectionable. Read more
British newspaper the Daily Mail last week published an “exclusive” on claims that the EU is “funding illegal West Bank building projects”, a reference to Palestinian structures built without a permit from Israeli occupation authorities.
The Oslo Accords, which Israel has systematically and repeatedly violated, were intended to manage a “transitional period” ending in 1999. Under the terms of the Accords, about 60 percent of the West Bank, so-called “Area C”, remains under Israeli authority today.
The article contends that in helping Palestinians build structures “unauthorised” by Israel, the EU is “acting illegally”. This argument, however, is ignorant of international law, obfuscates the reality on the ground today, and serves to advance a disturbing agenda. Read more
Gaza burns while the international community sits quietly, doing nothing about it. Israel has bombarded the territory for two weeks, killing more than 700 Palestinians and wounding well over 3,000. As I write this, I am aware that the death toll will only increase.
A massacre appals, disgusts, leaves one short of breath. It is a time for mourning, protest, but also education. Without an understanding of what is taking place in Palestine, we cannot put an end to this horror. Read more
The Nakba, Arabic for ‘Catastrophe’, was the ethnic cleansing by pre-state Jewish forces and the Israeli military of up to 90 percent of all Palestinians inside the newly-established State of Israel. It is marked annually on 15 May, the date in 1948 when Israel was born in a process of conquest, expulsion and settlement, dating broadly 1947-’49. An estimated 400-500 Palestinian villages were destroyed; refugees attempting to return were shot dead.
For those who self-identify on the left, who support liberal causes and advocate social-democratic politics, this should be an open and shut case. This is as clear a case of ethnic cleansing as you could wish to see. Read more