By Mohamed Harees –
‘We will return, that is not a threat, not a wish, a hope or a dream, but a promise’ ~ Remi Kanazi – Palestinian Poet
As in every year, on May 15, Palestinians remember the devastating expulsion of their people from their lands in 1948, following the end of the British Mandate for Palestine, which led to Israel’s creation in its place. This year’s Nakba Day being the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, protests is being marked by particular intensity all over the world, in the view of levels of Israeli aggression not seen since the 2014 Gaza War, which resulted in thousands of deaths, in occupied Palestinian territories. The global voices rose high , despite mainstream media accounts, which were often skewed to make Palestinians appear as the aggressors rather than the victims of targeted violence. If these events tell us anything about the catastrophe of 1948, it is that the Nakba has been ongoing for 73 years, as has been resistance to the violence.
In 1948, over 750,000 Palestinian men, women and children were expelled from their homes and forced to live as refugees in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. This is known as the Nakba, which means ‘catastrophe’. The Six Day War (Al Naksa) between Israel and neighbouring Arab nations in 1967 led to the displacement of over 300,000 Palestinians and the occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
This has indeed been a war between the weak and the strong, the minority and the majority. an innocent and an oppressor, just like David and Goliath, which has become a symbol of the fights between unequal sides. The grotesque spectacle of the world’s fourth largest military power once raining white phosphorous shells onto UN schools packed with refugees and how they respond with carpet bombing of Gaza, when Hamas sends them rockets shows just how unequal the military contest is. Today, we can however see David in every single Palestinian – be it a man, woman or a even a child with “stones” and ‘sticks’ in their hands, who are standing against fully armed Goliath occupying forces. The cases of Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian who slapped an Israeli soldier in 2017 and the wheelchair-bound Gazan martyr Fadi Abu Salah armed with a rock and a slingshot, taking part in the
protests on the Gaza border in 2018 went viral. Today, as the barbaric Israeli forces storm the Al Aqsa Mosque, evict Palestinian residents in Sheikh Jarrah and also bomb Gaza once again inflicting heavy casualties, the world is watching with bated breath, for the emergence of a David in the form of ‘Salahuddin’( historic Muslim warrior) to fight against Zionist Bibi’s oppression aided by his US backers.
There is the usual condemnation from the UN. The UN’s rights office has urged Israel to call off any forced evictions and warned its actions could amount to “war crimes”, as East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which international humanitarian law applies. Then there was the Arab League and Arab leaders including UAE and Saudi Arabia, which openly maintains diplomatic relationship with the Zionist regime in Tel Aviv, issuing toughly worded hypocritic statements. Some of these Arab leaders sometime back even stooped so low in asking the long victimised Palestinian people to fall in line with Trump’s and Bibi’s ‘solution’ to resolving the conflict. Arab tyrannical leadership have virtually sold the Palestinian cause down the drain for a bag of silver.
But, more importantly many progressive minded millions around the globe, as usual are rising up expressing strong condemnation of Israeli violence and its lack of proportionality in dealing with lawful Palestinian protests against the continuing Nakba and unprovoked storming into the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. More than expressing mere sympathy, scores of demonstrations, street dramas, protests at sporting events, fiery speeches in many houses of parliament, in addition to the flurry of activity on social media all are demanding global action against this recent spate of Israeli Zionist tyranny. It was apparent that Israel’s support has also been eroding in key sectors of the US population too, including campus activism against US complicity in the crimes. Bernie Sanders have asked the US regime to at least now, play an even handed role in bringing about a solution .
However, despite the build-up of global opposition against continuing Zionist oppression and theft of Palestinian lands, and the US’ complicity in it; despite new and organic calls for justice to the Palestinian cause, it is nothing short of a heinous crime that both Arab leaders in particular and the Organization of Islamic Co-operation(OIC) in general are letting yet another historic opportunity fall through their sheepish and spineless responses. When the Trump administration moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem against international position on Jerusalem, and another Gaza massacre followed, the OIC could not even exploit overwhelming global support and successfully coordinate for effective action even to hold an impartial UN investigation into the Gaza massacres. Bibi remarked in a tongue in cheek fashion at the opening ceremony of the US Embassy in Jerusalem: “It’s a great day for peace”- a peace divorced from reality, in the shadow of the Palestinian massacre at the Gaza border. Despite a resolution making this move null and void, and a near global consensus to such effect, the OIC failed to prevent the US Embassy move to Jerusalem.
Thus, as brave Gazans and Al-Quds are screaming for help, and Israeli Zionist impunity supported by US Hegemony has been trampling over Palestinian dignity, the Arab leaders and the OIC, are no longer a force on the world stage. As Robert Fisk wrote in December 2017, ‘If there was anything to beat in mediocrity the childish and delinquent declaration by Donald Trump that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, it was the pathetic response from Muslim states. For there in Istanbul […] were all the tired old men to whom we have listened for so many years, none sadder or more woebegone than the ageing and useless “President” of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas […] There were supposed to be 57 heads of state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in the Turkish capital, but some were simply too old and senile […] For the truth is that these Muslim leaders are no longer valid. They do not represent anyone. They may glance towards Moscow .. but they are about as relevant as Tsarist Russia or the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They represent failed states with neither morality nor courage to show for their presence at the Istanbul summit’.
Salahuddins will emerge among the Palestinians!
However, time again, Palestinians have proved they were created of sterner material and have nerves of steel. They will not be discouraged by the lack of support on the part of the Arab leaders. Palestinians carry the memories of their past dispossession from their lands and the practices of ethnic cleansing to which they were subject.
On the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, commemorated on 15 May, they are prepared to confront this fresh round of expulsion. It was Friar Manuel Musallam, member of the Christian-Islamic Committee in Support of Jerusalem and the Holy Places, who reminded the Palestinians: ‘Only a new Saladin will liberate Palestine from the occupation. The road to liberate Jerusalem will start in Gaza and a new Saladin would need to be born to free the country from the occupation’. However, it is apparent that every Palestinian is today turning to be a Salahuddin, as seen in the valour and courage of the likes of wheelchair-bound Gazan martyr Fadi Abu Salah armed with a rock and a slingshot, and Ahed Tamimi – symbols of the Palestinian resistance.
A renewed struggle is unfolding in Palestine – the struggle of the dispossessed to guard their homes, land, and place in this world. The struggle of those who have been subjected to Zionist and Israeli depopulation and ethnic-cleansing practices since the 1948 Nakba. This is the struggle of those who survived the 1948 war of conquest and the 1967 war of occupation. This struggle also belongs to those who became refugees within their homeland, but who were not allowed to return to their homes and villages because they were kept out by policies facilitating the Israeli takeover of their lands. This is now the struggle of yet another generation that has inherited the collective dispossession of its people, as in Haifa and Gaza, and is undergoing it again in such places as the Naqab and the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
“Israel” breathes its last!
Under this heading, the Hebrew newspaper “Haaretz” published an article by the famous Zionist writer (Ari Shebet), in which he says: ‘..It seems that we are facing the most difficult people in history, and there is no solution with them except recognition of their rights and an end to the occupation . The writer in Haaretz newspaper confirms: that “the Israelis” since they came to Palestine, they realize that they are the result of a lie invented by the Zionist movement, during which all the deception was used in the Jewish character throughout history. It is not the United Nations and the European Union that will stop settlement activity. The only power in the world capable of saving “Israel” from itself, are the “Israelis” themselves, by inventing a new political language that recognizes the reality and that the Palestinians are rooted in this land. It seems that the Palestinians are different from the rest of humanity. We occupied their land, and we called their youths Ghanaian women, prostitutes and drugs, and we said that a few years will pass, and they will forget their homeland and their land, and if their young generation explodes the 87 uprising .. We put them in prison and said we will raise them in prisons…’
‘..Years later, after we thought that they had learned the lesson, if they returned to us with an armed uprising in 2000, it ate green and everything, so we said we would demolish their homes and besiege them for many years, and if they extracted missiles impossible to hit us with, despite the siege and destruction, so we started planning them with walls and barbed wire. And if they were coming to us from underground and through tunnels, until they thickened us with killers in the past war. We fought them with minds, so they seize the “Israeli” satellite (Amos)? And they enter terror into every house in “Israel”, by spreading threats and intimidation, as happened when their youth managed to seize the second “Israeli” channel. In sum, it seems that we are facing the most difficult people in history, and the only solution with them is recognition of their rights and an end to the occupation…’
Thus, confronted by one of the most powerful member states of international society, their fight is not fearless, but courageous. In a historical time that has become postcolonial, and in an international order that no longer supports anti-colonial movements, it is left to the global community, the communities of this earth, on the 73rd anniversary of the start of the Nakba, to show our solidarity with the resilient Palestinians – the indefatigable Davids in their relentless struggle against the tyranny and barbarism of the formidable Goliaths both in Tel Aviv and Washington.