Over the past several weeks in Palestine and around the world, Palestinians and solidarity activists have gathered to hold events commemorating the 61st anniversary of the Nakba. Demonstrations, lectures, workshops and performances were organized in memory of the atrocities committed during the establishment of the state of Israel, when Zionist militias destroyed over 300 Palestinian villages, and forced more than 750,000 people from their homes.
On May 25th in Jerusalem, the Coalition for Jerusalem organized a tour of the Old City, highlighting the ongoing project of colonization occurring there. This tour came a few days after another group held a tour of the destroyed Palestinian villages of Lifta, Ein Karem and Sattaf. In Bethlehem, meanwhile, the Alternative Information Centre hosted an open discussion with three Palestinian refugees from Bethlehemâs Aida Camp. Abu Walid El Azza, Ayid and Suhaib represented three generations of refugees, and they spoke about their experiences of Nakba, showing the varying generational perceptions of the catastrophe.
Thousands of people mobilized for demonstrations in Ramallah, where participants carried signs with the names of the villages lost in 1948 and called for the right of return of Palestinian refugees. Other demonstrations in the West Bank took place in Anin, Niâlin, Bilâin, and al-Masra, while protests and activities took place throughout â48 Palestine as well, including in Kafreen, Nazareth, at-Tira, Akka and Kfar Kana.
These events took place prior to the new law pushed forward by Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, which would ban Nakba commemorations in the â48. Anyone found to be in violation of this âlawâ would be subject to a 3-year jail term.
In Melbourne, Australia, some 500 people joined a march and rally on May 15th, demanding an end to the continued Palestinian dispossession, occupation and ethnic cleansing that began with the Nakba. Over the next several days, workshops and lectures were held, with one of the speakers being Haneen Zoabi, the first Arab woman from an Arab party to be elected member of the Knesset. Her talks focused on the issues of citizenship and democracy for the 1.2 million Palestinians living in the â48 today. In an effort to dispel the myth that the Zionist state is founded on the principles of democracy and human rights, Zoabi described the systematic discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens and the fundamental inequalities that have been âlegalizedâ. She also endorsed the strategy of enacting boycotts, divestment and sanctions as the most effective way of ending racism and oppression of Palestinians.
London was also the site of widespread mobilization, as several solidarity groups came together to organize a demonstration in Trafalgar Square. The protest was in commemoration of the Nakba, but was also focused on ending the arms trade that allows Occupation forces to continue to commit atrocities against the Palestinian people.
In the USA, the Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid – Southern California and the American Friends Service Committee organized an event at UCLA, featuring a documentary screening and a lecture focusing on the ideology and mythology that drove the Zionist movement to commit the Nakba in 1948, and that continues to drive the practices of colonization today.
Other events were held around the world, including in Montreal, where protestors took to the streets on May 24th; in Las Condes, Chile, where a lecture was held on May 13th; and in Cyprus, where a Palestinian cultural evening took place in Larnaka on May 16th.