Tag Archives: Nakba

Israelis, Jews join civil protests against occupation; time for Americans to take second look at US support for Israel

By Kristin Szremski

This May marks the passage of 62 years since two major events that together have shaped the course of modern history. On May 15, Jews celebrate the creation of the state of Israel while on that day Palestinians commemorate Al Nakba, or the Catastrophe, which resulted in the deaths of 13,000 Palestinians and the expulsion of nearly one million more at the hands of Zionist Jews.

This year, though, these commemorations are occurring against a surprising backdrop: Increasingly more Israeli and American Jews are joining the growing network of activists protesting Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

Israeli groups such as Breaking the Silence, soldiers documenting military abuses against Palestinian civilians, and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions; as well as American groups like the Jewish Fast for Gaza or Jewish Voice for Peace, to name a few,  protest the Israel’s flagrant violation of international law. Internationally, there are groups like International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

Israeli Jews and Palestinians are cooperating as well. The Arab and Jewish organization Who Profits keeps a tally on companies profiting from the occupation industry, for instance, while Israeli Jews join Palestinian and international activists in peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in West Bank villages such as Ni’iln every week. Recently, Adalah, the Palestinian legal organization advocating for rights for Palestinian residents of Israel, and the Israeli Association for Civil Rights in Israel teamed up in a case before the Israeli Supreme Court.

And these are just a few of the  many collaborative organizations battling the occupation together.

Jews in the United States are increasingly feeling disenfranchised from Israel’s right-wing Likud leadership under Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu or  he Yisrael Beiteinu party, founded by Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Last fall, members of J Street, a progressive American Jewish organization, harshly criticized Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren for his refusal to attend its annual conference. Meanwhile, Israel’s right wing Zionists roundly criticized J Street for publishing a poll that found a full 69 percent of respondents backed President Barack Obama’s efforts toward peace, even if it meant disagreeing publicly with Israel.

Moshe Yaroni recently wrote in the online magazine Zeek, supported by the Jewish Forward, that Israel’s vision of democracy is crumbling. “For years, the peace groups in Israel have been warning that occupation cannot co-exist with democracy without one eventually strangling the other.” Yaroni makes the point that Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, coupled with the fervent Zionist ideology, is consuming its own citizens from within.

“Defining a humane Judaism in the 21st century means condemning the brutal military occupation in the West Bank and resisting the ongoing siege of Gaza,” Antony Lowentstein wrote in “Why Aren’t Jews Outraged by Israeli Occupation,” published in Haaretz on July 17, 2009.
These are all compelling reasons for the American public to take a second look at the Middle East.

For more than 60 years, Palestinians have cried out about their dispossession but the world has not been listening. Now, however, the truth is getting harder to ignore because Israeli society is becoming increasingly divided over Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians. Yaroni writes in Zeek: “Israel is moving toward a very frightening future; a future where most Jews will no longer be able to support Israel.”

We need to ask ourselves, if Jews are finding they no longer can support Israel and its illegal occupation of Palestine, how then can the American government continue to lend unconditional support to the tune of more than $3 billion a year in foreign aid?

After 62 years, it is time for a new accounting. It is time to start looking for information about Israel and Palestine outside the mainstream American press. It is time to start calling upon our lawmakers to hold Israel accountable; to insist that Congress withhold aid unless Israel complies with international law and ends the siege and occupation.

It is time finally to stand with the values upon which this great country was founded and to admit that the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness extend to all people – including the illegally occupied people of Palestine.

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AMP’s Nakba Book has arrived

The second edition of the American Muslims for Palestine book about the Nakba has arrived. The book contains the history of the Nakba and evidence that Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine was included in a 1947 document called Plan Dalet. It also contains the testimonies of six people were experienced first-hand the ethnic cleansing of their Palestinians villages in 1948.

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Al Nakba Fact Sheet and Timeline

The Nakba, or Catastrophe, began with the Deir Yassin massacre of April 9, 1948. It marks the beginning of the dispossession of the Palestinian people from Palestine at the hands of Zionist Jews, who until today employ methods of ethnic cleansing in attempts to create a state that is by, for, and of Jews only.
The Nakba is not a one-time event. It is still occurring as evidenced by Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza; Operation Cast Lead of December 2008 and January 2009, Israel’s deadly military attack that killed more than 1,400 people, including 355 children, and critically wounded more than 5,300; restriction of movement; the Apartheid Wall; and numerous arrests and detentions.
It is impossible to quantify how many Palestinians have been displaced and killed by Israelis since 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were forced into exile after their 531 villages were depopulated. More than 13,000 of them were killed in 1948. In Israel’s Six Day War in 1967, a further 350,000 Palestinians were forced from their homeland.
1882 – First Zionist settlement in Palestine is founded with help from Edmond James de Rothschild.
1896 – Theodore Herzl publishes Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), espousing his ideas for a Zionist state
1897 – Political Zionism is founded at Basel Congress
1901 – Creation of the Jewish National Fund, founded to purchase land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlements. Later was responsible for the transfer of Palestinians out of Palestine
1917 – Balfour Declaration supports a home for Jews in Palestine. The declaration came in the form of a letter from Arthur J. Balfour, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to Lord L Walter Rothschild, a British banker and member of the wealthy Rothschild financial dynasty. The letter was written in response to heavy lobbying by Zionist leadership, especially Chaim Weizmann.
1917 – The British Mandate of Palestine begins at the end of World War I and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire
1935 – Terrorist Zionist gang, Irgun, is founded by Menachem Begin, who became the Israeli prime minister in 1977
1940 – The Stern Gang breaks away from Irgun. It is lead by Yitzhak Shamir, who later became an Israeli prime minister
1947 – Plan Dalet is given to the paramilitary group the Haganah. Plan Dalet outlines the guidelines for the takeover of Palestine, including plans for ethnic cleansing and the transfer of the indigenous population
1947 – With Resolution 181, the United Nations partitions Palestine, giving 54 percent of the country to the Jews, who at that time owned less than 7 percent of the land and who had lived there for less than 10 years
1948 – Jewish terrorist gangs – the Haganah, Irgun and the Stern Gang – commit numerous massacres, the most infamous being the Deir Yassin massacre of April 9, 1948. This constitutes the beginning of the Nakba, the forced displacement and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from Palestine
1948 – Zionist Jews declare the state of Israel – May 14, 1948
1949 – Armistice agreement is signed between Arab leaders and Zionists. By Jan. 1, 1949, the Jews had
claimed 78 percent of historic Palestine and depopulated more than 530 Palestinian villages.
750,000 – The number of Palestinians who were forced into exile during the Nakba from 1947 to 1949
at the hands of Jewish terrorist and paramilitary gangs
13,000 – The number of Palestinians killed during the Nakba
350,000 – The number of Palestinians forced into exile during the Six Day War in 1967
9 MILLION – The number of Palestinian refugees and Internally Displaced Persons today
40 PERCENT of the world’s refugees today are Palestinian
74 PERCENT of today’s Palestinian population is refugees
80 PERCENT of all Palestinian refugees live outside camps operated by the United Nations
Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
4.6 MILLION refugees are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in 2008.
Nearly one-third of them live in 58 recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank
and the Gaza Strip.
(Sources: Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights; 1948: Lest We Forget; All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948; 1948: Lest We Forget)
The American Muslims for Palestine is a national, grassroots nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate the American public about issues pertaining to Palestine and its rich, cultural heritage. For more information, go to www.ampalestine.org.

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AMP Nakba events begin May 15

Nakba commemoration events begin May 15 in California. Speakers to include former British Parliamentarian George Galloway; Dr. Hatem Bazian, chairman of American Muslims for Palestine, Sheikh Zaid Shakir of Zaytuna Institute; Alison Weir of If Americans Knew. For more info, go to www.ampalestine.org.

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Nakba Week at University of Chicago

For full info, go to Sixteen Minutes to Palestine

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JPost: Army may release all Deir Yassin docs

State: Publication could harm Israel’s foreign relations


Are the events that took place in Deir Yassin so sensitive that 62 years later, the state still refuses to release all of the documents and photos stored in the IDF archive to the public?
That is the question facing Supreme Court Deputy President Eliezer Rivlin and Justices Edna Arbel and Neal Hendel in the wake of a petition heard earlier this week.

The petition was filed by Haaretz, its reporter Gidi Weitz, and Neta Shoshani, a student at the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem.

The battle of Deir Yassin, a village on the western outskirts of Jerusalem, was one of the most controversial of the War of Independence. It took place in April 1948, one month before the State of Israel was declared. There have been charges that units of the Etzel (Irgun) and Lehi (Stern Group) undergrounds massacred dozens of Palestinian civilians in the village and forced the survivors to flee. …

… The state told the court that publication of these documents could harm Israel’s foreign relations…Attorney Paz Mozer, representing the petitioners, argued that not only had the state extended the ban only after Shoshani had asked to see the documents, the public had a right to obtain more information about the battle, whose details have been in dispute all these years.

I can say firmly that the details of the Deir Yassin massacre have never been in dispute to those who lived through it and survived. Now, even after 62 years, the people I interviewed on this topic remember everything in crystal clear detail, as if it happened yesterday.  You will be able to read their testimonies next week when the second edition of the booklet, “The Nakba: Preserving our Narrative” is published.

~ Kristin Szremski, 5/5/2010

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Reports examine ongoing impact of the Nakba

Two reports that came out at the end of last year seem especially appropriate now as we head into May and the events planned to commemorate   the Nakba, or Catastrophe.

Sixty-two years ago, on May 15, 1948, Zionist Jews declared independence on land the United Nations gave to them after taking it from the indigenous Palestinians. Not content, however, with the 55 percent of Palestine they received, the mostly immigrant Zionists – under the ruthless tactics of the Hagganah, the Stern Gang and Irgun, waged war with the aim of taking land that the UN Partition had left for the Arabs. By Jan. 1, 1949, “Israel’ held 78 percent of historic Palestine. (Source:  The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe, Oneworld Publishers 2006; and All that Remains, the Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, edited by Walid Khalidi, Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992.)

The Nakba, however, was not a one-time, historical event. It is perpetual. Because  the state of Israel was founded upon an ideology that calls for the complete ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Palestine.

Plan Dalet, adopted on March 10, 1948, was the blueprint for the ethnic cleansing and transfer of Palestinians. It is the plan upon which the Haganah – the forerunner of today’s Israeli Defense Forces – and Zionist leadership based their strategy of conquest and dispossession. The ideology is still in place today as is evidenced by the siege on Gaza, the Apartheid Wall, military checkpoints, restrictions on movement, and random arrests  and detentions, to name a few of the many human rights abuses inflicted upon the Palestinian population.

It may seem hard to accept, especially to those who know nothing about Israel except what they read and hear in a mostly Zionist-compliant media. Consider these quotes:

“It must be clear that there is no room in the country for both people … the only solution is a Land of Israel … without Arabs. There is no room here for compromise … there is no way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries … not one village to be left, not one tribe.”
~Yosef Weitz, director of the Jewish National Fund’s land department and founder of the Transfer Committee, 1944.

And from contemporary history, we have former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon:

“It is the duty of Israel to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.” ~ former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, quoted in the Agence France Presse, 11/15/1998.

So the reports added to the Report section of Zatar and Spinach examine two very real results of Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies. The first one, A Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2008-2009 by Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, looks at the plight of  Palestinians and their descendents who became refugees – some even in their own land – because of the Nakba.

“Not only do Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons continue to constitute the largest and longest-standing unresolved case of refugees and displaced persons in the world today, but their numbers continue to grow in light of Israel’s policies and practices that result in more forcible displacement of Palestinians in Israel and in the Occupied Territories.” ~ Badil

The  second report looks at the spoils of war, or in other words, the effect of Israel’s confiscation, seizure and obliteration of vast amounts of Palestinian land and property. The report attempts to quantify how much was lost during the Nakba and makes recommendations to the United Nations for a resolution to this injustice.

“There is nothing like it in the pages of history books. A foreign minority, descending upon a national majority of a country, fortified by colonial political, military and financial support and a hostile ideology, emptying the country of its people, seizing all their land and property,obliterating their landscape, history and memory, claiming that this crime is an act of divine intervention, and persisting, unchecked by force of justice in committing this crime, according to the same plan for over 60 years with no end in sight, is unprecedented in the history of the world. This is the recent history of Palestine. The records of the United Nations, and before it, the League of Nations, contain a detailed chronicle of this long, violent history.” ~ Palestine Land Society

Both these reports deserve attention. The more we understand the broad implications of the Nakba and how it is still occurring today, the better we can work to bring justice to the Palestinian people. After all, our tax dollars support these human rights abuses. If we don’t arm ourselves with knowledge and work to change the situation, we are complicit in the oppression of an entire nation of people.

~ Kristin Szremski 04/28/2010

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