Rochester Witness for Palestine is a 501(c)3 educational organization in Rochester NY.
RW4P has chosen as its 2023 theme: “75th year of the Nakba.” The Arabic word NAKBA is most often translated “catastrophe,” and refers most directly to events during the spring of 1948.
Leaders of Jewish militia drew up and then implemented Plan Dalet (D) to ethnically cleanse as many Palestinians as possible from as much land as possible before the end of the British Mandate that had been established post-World War I. More than 400 Palestinian villages were blown up or burned. Nearly a million Palestinians were displaced from ancestral homes and lands. While some of these displaced persons found refuge in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the vast majority were forced to cross into Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. A few hundred thousand Palestinians remained in what was unilaterally declared to be the State of Israel on May 15, 1948; of these, over 40,000 were internally displaced persons – Orwellian “present absentees” – who were forbidden to return to their homes and lands.
The horrors of World War II, and what later came to be known as the “Holocaust,” meant Jewish perpetrators of this “catastrophe” were rewarded with the support and sympathy of much of the international community of nations. According to Chaim Weizmann, leader of the Zionist movement to create state for Jews-only, the Nakba was “a miraculous simplification of our task.”
The fact that the State of Israel has never definitively stated its geographic boundaries points to the reality that Nakba is ongoing. Still today, in violation of international law, refugees are refused the “right of return” to their homes and lands, while Israel continues to reap the benefits of occupying a ready-made “homeland,” e.g., vineyards, citrus groves, olive groves, businesses, hospitals, homes, furnishings, factories. Palestinians, still today, do not have freedom of movement, apart from an arcane and ever-shifting system of permits. Palestinians in territories that are still today “occupied,” are governed by military law. Palestinians who are citizens of the State of Israel do not have the full rights of citizens. Palestinian lands are still today stolen in the name of “security” or for military usage, or for building Jewish-only settlements, illegal under international law. Olive groves are destroyed, and harvests disrupted. The targeted assassination of Palestinians who continue to struggle for freedom and self-determination. Over 5 million Palestinians—generations upon generations—are still living in refugee camps.
Palestinians, whether in the diaspora or in occupied territories or in Israel or in camps, continue to live the Nakba, the catastrophe of displacement and dispossession and dehumanization, precisely because they are Palestinians who claim land and an identity forbidden to exist so that the State of Israel can exist.
In 2023 we plan further items on this 75th year theme to be posted here.
— text credit: Melanie Duguid-May