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Nakba: Day of Sadness, Anger, Hope and Determination

Nakba day on May 15 is an annual reminder deeply imprinted in blood on calendars of Palestinians.

Whether they are in besieged Gaza, the Occupied Territories of West Bank, Jerusalem, in miserable refugee camps scattered across the Arabian peninsula or indeed in the diaspora, Palestinians collectively mark this day with sadness, anger and hope. Yet determined to attain freedom and justice.

Ramzy Baroud, an internationally-syndicated columnist and author describes Nakba as meaning “catastrophe”. It references what has been commonly used to describe the violence meted out against the Palestinian Arab population during the period of British colonialism in Palestine, which extended from 1917 to 1948.

The term Nakba morphed to define the zenith of British and Zionist colonisation and settlement in Palestine, which ultimately led to the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population from their historic homeland in 1947 and 1948.

May 15, 1948, was the final act of all previous catastrophes.

Dispersed, occupied and imprisoned, facing daily trials of humiliation and staring death has defined Palestinian life. Yet it is the settler-occupier who remains unsettled, insecure and utterly perplexed.

Sounds incredible that a regime which is a nuclear power, possesses sophisticated fire-power, has powerful friends in the elitist billionaires club, allies in western capitals and capitalists from Sandton to New York, would remain fragile?

Why? One is that Palestinians haven’t given up any of their rights and the second is that global activism in solidarity with these just demands is growing at a phenomenal pace.

It is a frightening prospect which by all accounts, Israel has not reconciled with apart from frenzied efforts to intensify its repressive stance.

Nakba day 2017 is profoundly different from previous commemorations. Its impact both via social media and embrace by diverse populations spread globally, converges neatly with significant developments.

America’s change of leadership being one of these. Trump’s folly and dismal performance, far from being seen as a boon for Israel, is being viewed as an embarrassment for American values and thus a liability. To be publicly “rebuked” as Netanyahu experienced when Trump asked him to go-slow on settlements, is not in keeping with Israel’s expectations.

The developments at the UN, in particular visible drastic movement by its agencies to adopt unambiguous language in the text of resolutions which display abhorrence of Israel’s apartheid, occupation and settlement policies, are becoming more pronounced. Even if Israel resorts to blackmail and bullying tactics to pressure the UN, these reflect Zionism’s intellectual bankruptcy.

Evidence of such bullying is manifest wherever Israel faces censure. FIFA for instance has been confronted with it a few days ago. Again the central issue has been Israel’s illegal settlements pitted against restricted freedom of movement of Palestinian soccer teams. Football’s premier organ, FIFA has been challenged to suspend Israel’s participation due to its apartheid practices.

Perhaps the most compelling narrative to illustrate how devastating the Nakba has been is the ongoing Palestinian Prisoners’ hunger strike. As the world awakes to the cruel harsh conditions faced by thousands of prisoners, a large number detained without trial, many being minors, people globally have embarked on solidarity hunger strikes.

A century later since 1917, despite the most horrendous and brutal human rights violations perpetrated against Palestinians, Israel’s desire to be accepted as a “respected sovereign democratic state” remains elusive.

Palestinian scholars, academics, authors and commentators have ensured that voices of marginalised refugees, families of victims of Israel’s massacres and ethnic cleansing and of the resistance are not silenced.

Nakba day reaffirms resistance to injustice and an opportunity for freedom lovers to actively strive to reverse the catastrophic consequences of dispossession.


Iqbal Jassat

Exec Member: Media Review Network

Iqbal Jassat