The long Nakba

Published May 15, 2023

THIS year, Israel celebrates 75 years as a nation state. But for the Palestinian people, there is little to celebrate as the Nakba — catastrophe in Arabic — which accompanied the establishment of Israel, and entailed the ethnic cleansing of the Arabs from their ancestral homeland, has never really stopped. In fact, the Palestinians have suffered a continuous Nakba at Israeli hands, as the latest massacres occurring in Gaza and the occupied West Bank show. The latest bout of violence began on Tuesday, when Israel launched an assassination campaign against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance group. High-ranking members of the armed group were targeted by Israeli strikes in Gaza, many as they slept, their wives and children also inconveniently slaughtered as ‘collateral damage’. Islamic Jihad reacted by unleashing a barrage of rockets targeting Israel. At the time of writing, over 30 Palestinians had been killed, including six children, as hundreds of homes in the impoverished Gaza Strip were partially or totally destroyed in Israeli attacks. Hospitals in the tiny enclave are reportedly overwhelmed, while Israel has also responded with deadly force in the held West Bank.

Israel’s western patrons often argue that Tel Aviv has the right to self-defence. While that may be so, does the right to self-defence include allowing the massacre of Palestinian children and civilians? Unfortunately, the Israeli attitude towards the Palestinians has very much been shaped by the Nakba. Survivors of that disaster recall the terror they were subjected to by Zionist paramilitary gangs, as they were uprooted from their ancestral homes and forced into a lifetime of wandering and statelessness. Around 750,000 people were expelled in a biblical exodus, while around 15,000 Arabs were killed. The expulsions and murderous purges continue till this day. The Zionist contempt for the Palestinians is summed up by a widely reported remark made by former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, in which she denied that the Palestinian people ever existed. This has been the founding myth that has allowed Israel as a colonial settler state to continuously devour Palestinian land and spill Arab blood. Nakba survivors tearfully hope for the day when they, or their children and grandchildren, can return to the land of their forefathers. Sadly, powerful members of the international community, through their blind support of Israel, are trying their best to ensure this dream remains forever unfulfilled.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2023

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