NAKBA DAY 2021
May 15, Nakba Day, is an important date for the Palestinian people. It's the day when Palestinians commemorate their
history and their culture. While Israeli nationalists and Zionist supporters celebrate the forming in 1948 of the State
of Israel, the 'Birth' of Israel, Palestinians remember the Nakba , the catastrophe, ie, what was done to the indigenous
It's a memory that the Israeli regime has tried to outlaw, to erase. Decades ago Israel deliberately renamed, ie
'Hebrewised ', village and geographical locations. Some destroyed villages were covered over with pine forests, hiding
evidence that people had lived there.
George Orwell has pointed out that,
"The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history."
Palestinian academic Edward Said warned,
“Part of the main plan of imperialism… is that we will give you your history, we will write it for you, we will re-order
the past…What’s more truly frightening is the defacement, the mutilation, and ultimately the eradication of history…”
The Israeli historian Ilan Pappé has coined the word 'memoricide', to describe the Israeli efforts to erase knowledge
and evidence of a Palestinian past.
The Nakba is more than a historical event. It is an ongoing process. The Nakba continues today as Israel continues to
destroy houses and olive tree orchards in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as Israeli forces continue to attack Gazan
fishermen and bomb Gaza. Heavily armed West Bank 'settlers' are openly violent with impunity.
Writer and journalist Ramzy Baroud says about the 'birth' of Israel,
" That blood-stained birth callously required the destruction of an entire nation; people with a unique history,
language, culture and collective memory. It was thus absolutely necessary for the Palestinians to be wiped out to quell
any possible sense of Israeli guilt, shame and legal and moral responsibility for what has befallen millions of
dispossessed people." “The Nakba is not merely a question of history, but an ongoing reality that has affected several
generations of Palestinians. It is not a celebration of victimhood, but the impetus for an ongoing resistance. It is not
an 'event' assigned a specific political context and analysis, but is now a state of mind; the Palestinian people’s
strongest rapport between them and their past, present and future."
“The old will die: the young will forget” hoped Ben Gurion. He was referring of course to the Palestinian people. (Actually Zionists try to avoid the very word
Palestinian, preferring to say 'Arab', as the word 'Palestinian' is a reminder that the Palestinian people exist.)
Yet Palestinians, including the diaspora, have not forgotten their history, their culture including their poetry, their
music, their embroidery, their food.
Palestinian-Australian poet Samah Sabawi writes “My Palestinian identity was shaped by food and poetry”. “I write and I cook” she explains. “I create a Palestinian feast of delicious verses”, to remind her children “where we come from.”
The most famous Palestinian poet is the late Mahmoud Darwish. He articulated the hopes of his people.
“We Palestinians suffer from an incurable disease called “hope”. Hope for liberation and independence. Hope for a normal life where we shall be neither heroes nor victims. Hope to see
our children go to school without danger. Hope for a pregnant woman to give birth to a living baby, in a hospital, and
not to a dead child in front of a military control post. Hope that our poets will see the beauty of the colour red in roses, rather than in blood. Hope that this land will recover its original
Land of hope and peace. “
Do Palestinians still 'suffer from 'hope'?
Just a few days ago, 22 April, ie during Ramadan, violent Jewish nationalist extremists rampaged in East Jerusalem, at
the entrance to the Old City with its access to Al-Aqsa Mosque, shouting “Death to Arabs”.
'Medical apartheid' is contributing to the surging of Covid-19 cases in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza
Surely an important lesson to be learned from the Covid-19 crisis is that we, global civilian society, are all in this
together. We need to pressure our leaders to publicly condemn the Israeli regime and to bravely speak out in favour of
promoting one democratic, secular state in historic Palestine with equal rights for all.
Quoting Martin Luther King, “ Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic?
Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right? And there comes a time when
one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”
This is a 'Kairos' moment. Kairos is the Greek word used by South African clerics in the days of South African apartheid
and Palestinian clerics today, declaring that the situation is so urgent that change must be demanded now.