17 May 2010 — For sixty-two years, Palestinians have been denied their dignity and fundamental human rights. The creation and âinternationalâ acceptance of Israel in 1948 marked the culmination of a new kind of politics in the region that has had devastating consequences to this day. The acceptance of an ethnic Jewish state over the ruins of Palestinian society in a historically pluralistic region meant that indigenous Palestinians were automatically considered superfluous in the land they had inhabited for many generations. Emboldened by external support, Israel carried out its well planned campaign of mass scale ethnic cleansing, dispossessing and uprooting at least 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland. Zionist militias, and later the Israeli army, destroyed 500 Palestinian villages and forcibly emptied 11 urban neighbourhoods in this process. The newly formed State of Israel encompassed 78% of Historic Palestine.
With their lands confiscated, the refugees have been denied their legally guaranteed and UN-sanctioned right of return to their homes of origin. Palestinians remember this massive wave of dispossession as the Nakba (catastrophe).
Israelâs continued occupation, colonization and apartheid represents an ongoing Nakba. It could not have continued without international complicity, particularly by the US and the EU. The decision to allow, unhindered, Israeli accession to the OECD – cynically announced just a few days before the Nakba Commemoration Day â painfully underlines the failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable to international law and human rights principles. The fact that the UN itself condemned in its Goldstone report Israelâs atrocities in Gaza — in its operation âCast Leadâ — as constituting war crimes and possible crimes against humanity had no bearing, it seems, on the OECD states that voted unanimously to accept Israelâs membership.
It is this failure of the âinternational communityâ to uphold international law and the pattern of treating Israel as a state above the law that make civil resistance and solidarity through the global BDS movement all that much more relevant and crucial. As in the boycott campaign against apartheid South Africa, the fast spreading BDS campaigns by international civil society are the most effective form of solidarity with Palestinian rights that promise to end Israelâs impunity and compel it to respect its obligations under international law.
For the past 62 years, Israel has consistently violated international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, with little fear of accountability. With the growing BDS movement, however, Israel is increasingly being perceived as a pariah state at the grassroots level. World public opinion clearly indicates a sharp drop in tolerance of Israelâs continued multi-faceted colonial and racist oppression; many governments that unconditionally support Israel are facing unprecedented stiff opposition from their respective publics.
The massive scope of the Nakba 62 commemoration, both in historic Palestine and internationally, is reflective of the pace at which popular resistance and protest against the ongoing Israeli colonisation is growing. Rallies and other commemoration events in Jerusalem, the Galilee, Hebron, Ramallah and Nablus have been matched with events across the world. Activists across the UK held protests inside supermarkets that called for the banning of the sale of produce from illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian Territory and a boycott of all Israeli produce. In Rome, over 50 activists gave out information about the BDS movement and displayed items barred entry to Gaza by the Israeli siege including chocolate, toys and fishing poles in order to demonstrate the callousness of the siege. Similar actions took place in towns and cities all over the world.
The 2005 Palestinian civil society call for BDS includes all three constituencies of the Palestinian people â those living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, those living inside Israel, and the millions of Palestinian refugees who form the great majority of the Palestinian people. Nakba awareness and the call for the right to return are a key part of the BDS movement; both the National Committee for the Commemoration of the Nakba Commemoration and the Right of Return, Global ROR Coalition are important members of the BNC.
The BNC fully endorses the 15 May call of the National Committee for the Commemoration of the Nakba, which included:
For the Palestinian leadership to:
Â· Adopt a coherent strategy towards a just and permanent solution for the Palestinian refugees and IDPs, based on their right to return and in accordance with international law, universal principles of justice and UN resolutions 194 (1948) and 237 (1967);
Â· Halt all negotiations, whether direct or indirect, until Israel completely halts settlement expansion, population transfer (âJudaizationâ), and construction of the Wall and other infrastructure of colonization and apartheid, such as roads and the so-called Jerusalem Light Rail connecting illegal Jewish colonies to West Jerusalem;
Â· Ensure national reconciliation and unity as a matter of urgency, and rebuild the PLO as a legitimate and credible platform representing the entire Palestinian people and its political organizations;
Â· Support and activate popular resistance in all forms permitted under international law;
Â· Establish a consultative mechanism with professional civil society organizations to support the efforts of the PLO in international forums.
To the public in Palestine and abroad to:
Â· Build and expand the civil society-led movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law, and exert stronger pressure on states to implement sanctions and adopt decisions and resolutions which support the global BDS Campaign;
Â· Redouble efforts for investigation of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity and prosecution and punishment of those responsible, as well as efforts to prevent Israel’s accession and integration into international and regional organizations.
Â· Only through effective, sustainable and persistent efforts to hold Israel accountable to international law can there be hope to establish a just peace and end Israelâs ongoing Nakba against the entire Palestinian people.
 Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2008-9, BADIL Resource Center