Shabbah TV: Palestine/Israel history since 1878 — 13 min 33 sec
Today Israel celebrated 62 years since its formation on 15 May 1948. For Palestinians, today marks the 62nd year since the Nakba – our national and personal catastrophe, involving the loss of our ancestral homeland and the dispersal of three-quarters of our people into exile.
To date, the Palestinian people await Israeli recognition of its responsibility in the catastrophe and agreement to resolve the conflict based on international law, including UN resolutions.
I experienced exile first-hand. On 13 May 1948 one day before Israel’s declaration of independence, my hometown of Jaffa was captured by Zionist forces. Seventy thousand Palestinian inhabitants of the city were forced to leave, most of them by sea to Gaza, Egypt, and Lebanon. We Jaffans were literally driven out to the sea. I was 10. We were never allowed to return.
The same reality befell more than 726,000 indigenous Christian and Muslim Palestinians who fled their homes or were expelled from Mandate Palestine in and around 1948; while hundreds of Palestinians were killed as they were driven out, or in their attempt to come back home. Several Israeli historians such as Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe described the catastrophe vividly and accurately.
In the wake of the expulsion, more than 418 Palestinian villages were razed to the ground. Nearly all Palestinian property, including that belonging to Palestinians who managed to stay within the areas that came under Israeli control, was confiscated by the nascent State of Israel for the exclusive benefit of Jews. In 1952, when Israel’s parliament passed its nationality law, Palestinian refugees were denied the option of citizenship in the new state. Additional measures were taken to bar our return to our country and our homes. The expulsion of Palestinians and the subsequent measures to render the displacement permanent were taken in contravention of international law.
These events, which left the majority of Palestinians stateless and dispossessed, were compounded by the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians once again fled their homes, and Israel expanded its control over the remaining 22% of our historic homeland. Today, the stranglehold over the Gaza Strip, the ongoing settlement and closure activities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is leading to more Palestinian fragmentation and displacement. Indeed, the Nakba continues.
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights issued the following statement today:
At their core, the circumstances surrounding the Palestinian struggle today do not differ from those circumstances that led to the 1948 Nakba and the colonization of Palestine. Today, on the sixty-second anniversary of the Nakba, the nature of the western-backed Zionist-Israeli colonial enterprise appears all the clearer. The indigenous Palestinian people have been denied their most fundamental and inalienable rights of self-determination, including their rights to return to the land from which they were displaced, and continue to suffer from Israel’s grave violations of basic human rights and freedoms. As Israel cruelly blockades the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and denies 7.1 million displaced Palestinians around the globe their rights to return, restitution and compensation, the international community provides a protective shield forged through diplomatic, economic, cultural and security cooperation which perpetuate Israel’s impunity.
In a time when Israel’s true face as a regime of colonization, apartheid and military occupation has been exposed for the world to see, governments and their organizations, have chosen to look the other way. The protective shield preventing effective redress and accountability for Israel’s crimes is no more provided by western states alone, as international organizations have joined the chorus that calls for a “balanced position” and have allowed Israel’s membership and integration into global and regional, civil and official organizations. Israel thus enjoys not only the unlimited support of the United States, but also enjoys preferential status with the European Union under the 1995 Barcelona Declaration and the E.U.-Israel Association Agreement, which have entrenched European relations with Israel in political, military, financial, economic, social and cultural terms, and even in the field of humanitarian aid.
Only recently, on 10 May, no OECD member state felt obliged by international law or found the moral strength to block Israel’s accession to that club of the world’s powerful economies. Israel’s protective shield is no longer composed merely of U.S. veto powers in the Security Council of the United Nations. It has spread to other UN fora, such as the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council where global powers exert coercive pressure on member states, and even to domestic judicial systems and international courts, in order to enable Israel to escape accountability for its grave violations of international law.
It has become painfully clear that Israel and the so-called Quartet view Palestinian demands for the implementation of international law as an obstacle to the peace process, at best, and as a form of unacceptable radical extremism, at worst. This explains why the U.S. has resumed pressure on the Palestinian and Arab representatives to return to the negotiating table despite Israel’s refusal to cease construction and expansion of its settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, and irrespective of the personal commitment given in this regard by President Obama. Thus, so-called proximity talks and indirect negotiations are being relaunched while Israel’s prime minister reassures his coalition government that there will be no limitation on settlement construction and expansion, the forced displacement of Palestinians from Jerusalem and the expansion of the network of apartheid roads and the Wall in the occupied West Bank.
Meanwhile, Israel continues to draft and adopt more racist legislation, including law proposals to outlaw Nakba commemoration, the 2009 Israel Lands Authority Law and a 2010 amendment of the Land Acquisition Law, which allow privatization and confiscation of more land of Palestinian refugees and citizens, as well as new military orders, such as Order No. 1650 arbitrarily defining a large portion of the Palestinian population of the occupied West Bank and foreigners as “infiltrators” subject to arrest and deportation.
In light of the above and the division and weakness which has characterized the performance of the Palestinian leadership, BADIL re-iterates the call of the National Committee for the Commemoration of the Nakba issued this 15 May:
for the Palestinian leadership to:
• Adopt a coherent strategy towards a just and permanent solution for Palestinian refugees and IDPs, based on their right to return and in accordance with international law, universal principles of justice and UN resolutions 194 (1948) and 237 (1967);
• Halt all negotiations, whether direct or indirect, until Israel completely halts settlement expansion, population transfer (“Judaization”), and construction of the Wall and other infrastructure of colonization and apartheid, such as roads and the light train connecting Jewish settlements to West Jerusalem;
• Ensure national reconciliation and unity as a matter of urgency, and rebuild the PLO as a legitimate and credible platform representing the entire Palestinian people and its political organizations;
• Support and activate popular resistance in all forms permitted under international law.
• Establish a consultative mechanism with professional civil society organizations to support the efforts of the PLO in international fora.
To the public in Palestine and abroad to:
Build and expand the civil society-led movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and exert stronger pressure on states to implement sanctions and adopt decisions and resolutions which support the global BDS Campaign;
Redouble efforts for investigation of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity and prosecution and punishment of those responsible, as well as efforts to prevent Israel’s accession and integration into international and regional organizations.