15 May 2004 will see yet another commemoration of the Nakba [Cataclysm]. And a cataclysm it truly was. How else can one describe the mass deportation of a million people from their cities and villages, the massacre of hundreds of civilians and the razing to the ground of hundreds of once prosperous villages?
In 1948, this is exactly what happened to the Palestinians. Dispossessed of their homes and thrown out of the land, hundreds of them brutally killed and their villages destroyed in an attempt by the Israelis to erase the mere existence of the Palestinians. Those Palestinians in the diaspora are not homeless – but they are being denied their right to return to their homes.
This is not an isolated event – it was just the beginning – 56 years ago it was Lubya, Tantura, Deir Yassin, among about 400 other villages. In 1967 it was the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. In 2002 it was the massacre in Jenin and today we are seeing the destruction of Rafah and the stealing of land with the construction of the Apartheid Wall.
The observation of the 56th Nakba Day on 15 May 2004 will see worldwide events raising the awareness of the events of 1948, the continuing occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem; the exile of millions of Palestinians; daily military attacks, house demolitions, land confiscation, and illegal Jewish colonies on Palestinian land.
1948 saw the birth of Apartheid South Africa along with the bloody creation of the State of Israel in Palestine, both born on the miserable premise of entitlement for a select group of people. This entitlement, to land rights and resources, bred laws and societies that measured human worth by trivialities. In the case of South Africa, it was skin color. In the case of Israel, it is religion. In both lands, the privilege accorded to the chosen group came at the expense and detriment of the natives – the ‘unchosen’. Strange how this shared birth year also led to shared policies – one more brutal and unapologetic than the other.
Zakiya Fareed is the Research Administrator at the Media Review Network, an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa. https://www.mediareviewnet.com