When Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their villages and homes in 1948, many left with little more than the clothes on their back. Food was left on the stove. Crops were left unharvested. But the land emptied of its inhabitants was soon occupied by new residents.
From 1948 to 1953, almost all new Jewish settlements were established on refugees’ property. The myth of making the desert bloom is belied by the facts: in mid-1949, two-thirds of all land sowed with grain in Israel was Palestinian land. In 1951, “abandoned” land accounted for nearly 95 per cent of all Israel’s olive groves and almost 10,000 acres of vineyards. 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
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
This week marks the 66th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Miska, a Palestinian village whose roughly 1,000-strong population was expelled in April 1948 by Haganah forces. Located around 10 miles from Qalqilya, Miska boasted 100-200 houses, an elementary school for boys, and a mosque.
The community was targeted and destroyed by pre-Israel Defense Forces (IDF) militias, as part of a policy of “clearing out [the area’s] Arab inhabitants“. The expulsion of the villagers,according to historian Benny Morris, was carried out “with Haganah/IDF General Staff and/or cabinet-level sanction”. Everything was destroyed except the school and the mosque. Read more
Given the insistence by its leaders that Israel be “recognised” as a Jewish state, some people might be surprised to know that there is considerable disagreement among Jewish Israelis about exactly what that means.
Enter the justice minister, Tzipi Livni, who in addition to her key role in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority seems set on making a contribution to one of the most contentious issues in Israeli politics: the state’s Jewish identity. Read more
From the refugees in 1949 looking over the Lebanese border at the land from which they were expelled, to the students in the Gaza banned by the Israeli Supreme Court from studying in the West Bank, Israeli colonisation has fragmented the Palestinian people over the decades with walls, fences, guns, bureaucracy and propaganda.
Overcoming that fragmentation has become further complicated in recent times on account of the moribund state of representative bodies like the Palestine Liberation Organisation, as well as the long-running split between Fatah and Hamas. Read more
Today marks the 65th anniversary of the historic ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the Zionist movement, and the establishment of the State of Israel on the rubble of hundreds of emptied, destroyed villages.
Nakba Day continues to grow in prominence as a time for remembrance and protest, an alternative history to the narrative of Israeli ‘independence’, and a reminder that the ‘miracle’ of a Jewish state was actually realised through the historically familiar methods of expulsion and colonial erasure. But this is more than just an anniversary or commemoration. In three important ways, the Nakba is not simply confined to the history books.
First, the Nakba is a defining event. Many potted histories or summaries of the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” cover 1948 with a sentence like this: ‘The State of Israel declares independence and is immediately attacked by its Arab neighbours’. The Palestinian refugees emerge in the narrative as if by magic, or as a vague consequence of war.
Yet the ethnic cleansing of 1948 is the heart and soul of the Palestinian people’s struggle. This is how a landscape was obliterated and communities destroyed; homes, schools and mosques disappearing under rolling explosions, citrus groves and fields of crops separated from their owners. Palestinian lives are shaped by the Nakba, from refugee camps and fragmented families to destroyed livelihoods and murdered loved ones. Read more
Framing events in Gaza in the colonial context is vital for understanding the nature of the violence, argues author.
While it is common knowledge that a majority of the population of the Gaza Strip are refugees, it is less well understood where they came from. The shocking reality is that many of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are a few miles away from the land of their ethnically cleansed former villages, across the border fence in southern Israel. Like so much else with Palestine, you can’t understand Gaza if you don’t understand the Nakba. Read more