by Amelia Smith Middle East Monitor 15 May 2013
Earlier this month, Israeli forces declared plans to demolish 11 homes in Deir Nidham in the northwest of Ramallah; their destruction will make way for the expansion of the Halamish settlement, which has been established on part of the village's land. Authorities say the houses were built without permits in areas under Israeli control, though in reality some were built as early as 1936.
Every time this new, illegal cluster of houses grows a wall is built (there are now three), and it is topped with barbed wire, in the name of security. It's a familiar story in the occupied West Bank, which is riddled with restrictions, divisions, obstacles and the absence of freedom of movement.
Israeli authorities have also approved the building of 300 houses in the area, as 'compensation' for those evicted from Ulpana settlement last year. Again it's shocking, but again, it's nothing new; Israel controls 60% of the West Bank upon which it builds settlements, and establishes military areas. In the last ten years alone, the Israeli state has demolished over 2,200 homes and left 13,000 Palestinians homeless.
This latest set of demolitions coincides with the 65th anniversary of the Nakba - the Catastrophe - when thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes to make way for the creation of a the state of Israel; it is a day which symbolises forced removal, destruction of homes and ethnic cleansing.
To mark the commemoration, in the occupied territories yesterday, 65 sirens sounded. Today protesters carried 65 torches through the streets of Ramallah, hundreds gathered to listen to the Palestinian National Forces band and demonstrated in Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Jericho.
Over in Tel Aviv, for the second year running, students at the University also attempted to honour the Nakba, but were met with a counter-protest which disrupted students' readings of the destroyed villages.
But it is not only today that the Nakba's memories are crushed. As a historical event, it does not exist in Israeli textbooks and laws have been passed that ban empathy with the day. United Nations resolutions stipulate that those who were forced out, or escaped from their homes, have the right to reclaim their property. But there are currently 5 million Palestinian refugees who have been displaced by Arab Israeli wars, 1.4 of which are in one of the 58 camps in their neighbouring countries.
That the Deir Nidham incident and the Nakba commemoration happened so close to each other shows not only a complete lack of respect on behalf of the Israeli authorities for the Nakba, but that the process of forced removal, destruction of homes and ethnic cleansing has taken place continually, for over 65 years, and is still present right up until today.
The Nakba is not only a perpetual political process, but one that is developing and spreading its tentacles, with no end in sight. For many Palestinians, the commemoration today is about this present day battle for equality, land and respect
The Nakba is a past and a present, a continuous and developing process of Zionist colonization
by Ben White Middle East Monitor 15 May 2013 09:46
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 forremembrance 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.
The Nakba is how a Jewish majority was established in the first place, and thus it is no wonder that many people wish to consign it to 'the past'. For just as its impact is felt deeply in Palestinian society so also the Nakba is a defining event for Zionism and the State of Israel - the inconvenient truth that turns myths to dust, the reminder of - in the words of Meron Benvenisti - 'what lies beneath'. Nakba denial is commonplace, a history covered up by distortions and counterfactuals in the same way Jewish National Fund forests were planted over the rubble of Palestinian villages.
Second, the Nakba is also an ongoing event, and not just in the sense that the Palestinian refugees still await return and restitution. The Nakba is a past and a present, a continuous and developing process of Zionist colonization. You can see it in the discriminatory and colonial logic of the land regime and planning laws inside the pre-1967 lines, designed to maintain Jewish spatial hegemony and guard against the threat of the land being 'lost' to its indigenous people.
The admission committees that exclude Palestinians from the kibbutzim and moshavim built on top of ethnically cleansed villages. The 'look out' communities built by the state and the Jewish Agency in the Galilee in order to 'break up' areas of Palestinian territorial contiguity. Zionist forces often described Palestinian villages in 1948 as simply enemy bases to be cleansed. How little has changed, when the existence of Palestinian communities is seen as a threatening presence to be fragmented and watched over by Jewish citizens.
Catastrophes are experienced daily by Palestinians in the south Hebron Hills, Jordan Valley and East Jerusalem, when the bulldozers and soldiers arrive to demolish homes and shelters. More catastrophes are planned, in the name of 'development', 'security' or even 'tourism' - like in the Negev where, 65 years after soldiers pushed them into the 'Fence', Bedouin Palestinians face another mass expulsion.
Third, the Nakba is a paradigm-shaping event. Palestine is not about 1967, warring tribes, a family dispute, or religious fundamentalism. It's not about negotiations over a border dispute or 'confidence-building measures'. It's about settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing, about the establishment of an ethnocracy and the exclusion of an indigenous people. Decades before Oslo, before the first red-roofed settlement on the West Bank hilltops, before Hamas and the Quartet, the Catastrophe happened.
Having a Nakba-defined paradigm is not about 'intransigence' or wishing an impossible return to a long-lost past. It is about understanding the roots of what has unfolded over the decades - the establishment of a state for one people at the expense of another, the maintenance of a regime of privilege for some while excluding others to the point of destroying their very existence in the land. It is in the roots where we search most fruitfully for an answer: equality and return, a decolonized space and state that welcomes back and does not expel.
Finally, as a defining, ongoing, and paradigm-shaping event, the Nakba is also therefore, an urgent call to action. The Catastrophe must end.
Palestinians highlight Israel’s ongoing efforts to expel them
Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Wed, 5 May 2013 The Electronic Intifada
Today, 15 May, Nakba Day, Palestinians everywhere mark the 65th anniversary of their continuing expulsion and exile from their homeland.
A new short film, released to mark this date, features Palestinians talking about their experiences of ongoing forced removal from their lands and homes by Israel.
The film “documents a journey between the two villages and two communities, whose very existence on their land is under threat today” according to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which produced it.
“It also demonstrates how, in the face of a single Israeli policy to forcibly displace Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, the people are drawing on deep reserves of courage and steadfastness to remain on their land.”
The 15-minute documentary, in Arabic with English subtitles, includes the voices ofBedouins in the Naqab (Negev) village al-Araqib – which has been demolished 48 times just since July 2010, and Palestinians from Susiya, a village in the southern West Bank in an area heavily targeted for Israeli settlements.
Many people in Susiya are now facing expulsion for a second or third time. One of the elders in the village, Sheikh Mohammad, was himself expelled from the Naqab in what he calls “the first Nakba” and now faces losing his home in Susiya.
Currently, tens of thousands more Palestinians – ostensibly citizens of Israel – face expulsion from their traditional lands under the so-called “Prawer Plan.”
For more information, visit Adalah’s website (adalah.org)