Free Palestine 74 Years After the Nakba

74 years after the Nakba

I used to be severely ignorant about the exact monstrosities Palestinians have suffered through not only since Nakba in 1948 (74 years ago) but also before then (here’s a devastating thread). Because we tend to share knowledge through daily discussions with our family, friends, comrades, and coworkers and the violence and ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the Israeli civilians and government is escalating, I wanted to write about supporting Palestinian freedom and liberation for anyone who was just as negligent toward their struggles as I was.

One of the first corrections I’ve made to my assumptions about Palestine and Israel is that it’s not a “conflict” between the two groups of people, but rather the genocide and settler colonization of Palestine by Israel. In the book On Palestine by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé, the latter wrote “The last paradox is that the tale of Palestine from the beginning until today is a simple story of colonialism and dispossession, yet the world treats it as a multifaceted and complex story—hard to understand and even harder to solve. Indeed, the story of Palestine has been told before: European settlers coming to a foreign land, settling there, and either committing genocide against or expelling the indigenous people. The Zionists have not invented anything new in this respect. But Israel succeeded nonetheless, with the help of its allies everywhere, in building a multilayered explanation that is so complex that only Israel can understand it. Any interference from the outside world is immediately castigated as naïve at best or anti-Semitic at worst.” I previously mentioned the word “Nakba,” which means catastrophe and refers to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 after approximately 750,000 or 80% of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homeland (here’s a detailed article about Nakba 74 years ago) and became refugees. Into the 1950s, Israel issued the Absentee’s Property Law, which seized all of the property Palestinians owned including the money in their bank accounts, and if the property theft was not “contested” or “claimed” it would become property of the new state of Israel. The catch was that any Palestinian refugee who tried to return to Palestine would be shot on sight by the Israeli military, so most, if not all of the stolen land, homes, farm animals, money, etc was now Israel’s. Along with the Land Acquisition Law (Actions and Compensation), approximately 1.3 million dunams of Palestinian land was expropriated and taken by Israel. Whereas Palestinians owned 48% of land prior to Nakba 74 years ago, today, Israel owns roughly 93% of the land. In the Decolonize Palestine article about Nakba the author writes, “Practically overnight, the state gained control of over 739,750 agricultural acres, the vast majority of which were of excellent quality as well as 73,000 houses, 7,800 workshops and 6 million pounds.”

Before Israel’s violent “founding” in 1948, Muslims, Christians, and Jews coexisted in Palestine without as much violence and turmoil as we see today. In 1897, the first Zionist (defined as a movement for the re-establishment and the development and protection of a Jewish nation in Palestine) congress met in Basel to discuss establishing a Jewish State in Palestine thanks to the leadership of Zionist president Theodor Herzl. Zionism is a settler colonial movement in which Jewish Israelis have freedoms and privileges that Palestinians don’t have under the same government. For example, Israel’s 1950 Law of Return grants every Jewish person in the world the right to settle in Israel and become an Israeli citizen, even if that person has never been to Israel before. Every Israeli Jew (approximately 7 million) has the same freedoms, rights, and legal status in Israel where they can move freely and vote in every election. In contrast, Palestinians in Israel are separated into four different areas: Palestinian citizens of Israel, East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza. Their rights and privileges are determined based on where they live in the State. There are approximately 2.1 million Palestinians in Gaza and those people have absolutely no freedoms under an Israeli blockade (an act or means of sealing off a place to prevent goods or people from entering or leaving). Palestinians in Gaza have no rights, are under Israeli military rule, and they can’t vote in Israel’s elections. 2.7 million Palestinians in the West Bank have their population separated into 165 “mini states,” which are disconnected by Israeli military checkpoints, settlements, and walls. They also are unable to vote in Israel’s elections, they have no civil rights, and are under military rule. In East Jerusalem, 400,000 Palestinians have more freedom of movement, but at any point, Israel can take away their right to live in this part of the State. They can’t vote in Israel’s elections and Israel also prevents them from participating in Palestinian politics. Palestinians who are citizens of Israel (approximately 1.6 million people) have the most freedom, but Israel restricts where they can live and in turn, where they work and who they can marry. They have the right to vote in Israel’s elections, but they face legal discrimination in all areas of life. Palestinians didn’t initially find fault in Zionists moving to Palestine until Zionists were clear that they had no intention of peacefully coexisting with the indigenous people already there. Decolonize Palestine shares one example where “Zionist leadership went out of its way to sanction settlers employing or working with Palestinians, calling Palestinian labor an “illness” and forming a segregated trade union that banned non-Jewish members.”

Zionist leaders’ homicidal views toward and beliefs about Palestinians have continued today with Israeli leadership on all levels declaring fascist violence toward the oppressed people. Below are quotes from Israeli leaders collected in an article by the Institute for Middle East Understanding: (TW: Assault, murder, homophobia)

For the past year or so, Israelis have been trying to evict Palestinians from their homes by force in Sheikh Jarrah—a small area in East Jerusalem—following Israel withdrawing residency permits (aka forcing Palestinians to leave their homes) from over 14,500 Palestinians back in 2017, which has increased violence in the state. In this video, a Palestinian woman argues with an Israeli man who is trying to steal her home in the city and displace her. This thread of videos (huge TW) shows horrifying scenes of Israelis assaulting brutalizing Palestinians all throughout Israel. As the violence in Sheikh Jarrah accelerated, other parts of Israel broke out in trauma for Palestinians. While Palestinians were praying in Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (the third holiest site in Islam) during Ramadan, the Israeli military repeatedly bombed the mosque and threw tear gas and sound grenades at worshippers. Hamas or the Islamic Resistance Movement aimed to protect themselves from Israel’s military (which protects Israelis and not Palestinians even though the latter is also in Israel) by firing rockets back, and the military returned with greater bombs especially in Gaza (see here). Mairav Zonszein, a journalist and Senior Analyst with Crisis Group tweeted on May 13 that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would use administrative detention to prevent rioting in the state, which is essentially pretrial detention. In Gaza City, Israeli warplanes detonated bombs on the Al-Jawhara and Al-Shorouk buildings in which 13 media outlets had their offices. A fact I recently learned is that Israel prevents the imports and exports of any materials in Gaza, so every building that’s bombed and destroyed can never be rebuilt. Here’s another video of Gaza being attacked by the Israeli military and the Palestinian journalists doing their jobs during the violence. Last year on May 15, Israel bombed the streets heading toward Al-Shifa hospital—Gaza’s most important trauma facility—so injured Palestinians aren’t able to get the medical assistance they need. That same day, Israel also demolished the Palestinian office of Al-Jazeera and the Associated Press in Gaza, offering reporters and other tenants only 30 minutes to take their equipment and leave before bombs dropped. All throughout the state, Israeli lynch mobs have been escorted by Israel’s police force as protection from Palestinian resistance (see here and here). And most recently, 74 years after the Nakba, beloved and renowned Palestinian journalist Sireen Abu Akleh was assassinated by the IDF and the Israeli Police attacked mourners at her funeral so viciously that pallbearers nearly dropped her casket.

There aren’t two sides to Israel’s brutal colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. This post is just a small collection of information about Palestinian suffering under Israeli imperialism, which has been bolstered by undying support from the American government and military budget. America currently gives Israel $146 billion in military, missile, and economic funds, which makes Israel the “largest cumulative recipient of U.S. assistance since World War II” (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace). American police routinely train in Israel and America provides Israel with the military equipment used to bludgeon, blind, and brutalize Palestinians. Palestinians demand liberation, not charity from “allies” across the way and the first step in supporting Palestinian freedom is through the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which you can read more about here. There are many threads of funding requests for Palestinians during this especially violent period (here, here, and here), which I would highly recommend checking out. American politicians won’t be pushed on their support for Israel, so we can financially assist Palestinians and take our money away from companies that also back the settler state. Reading more about Palestine through different genres and topics is also important because this post is in no way educationally exhaustive and this list from Decolonize Palestine is the most comprehensive one I’ve seen so far. The Nakba may have taken place 74 years ago, but this colonialist catastrophe is ongoing and we must support Palestine from Israeli oppression no matter what.