Thousands return to village destroyed in Nakba
On 6 May this year, Hebrew Israelis celebrated their Day of Independence (or, as many argue, the day in 1948 that British colonial rule was replaced by Israeli apartheid rule).
On the same day up to 25,000 of their Palestinian co-citizens took action to remember what this day of “independence” had cost their people: their homeland and way of life: the “Nakba” or catastrophe that befell them.
After the Israeli forces had de-populated over 530 villages in a mass ethnic cleansing exercise 66 years ago, their agents the Jewish National Fund planted them over with pine forests: these woodlands are popular picnic spots for Jewish Israelis on their many celebratory days off.
On this day, they found to their surprise that the roads to the Lavi Forest were jam-packed with thousands of Palestinians heading for Lubya, the village under the forest. Its cemetery is still there.
The co-existence organisation Zochrot, dedicated to facing Israel with its past, erected special road signs to the village and the place where its mosque had been, and in among the trees hung giant photographs of the village people, now refugees in places such as Yarmouk camp in Syria where tens of thousands face starvation in Assad’s siege.
Zochrot’s mission is not only to remember the Nakba, but to promote the Right of Return, showing the many original village sites that remain uninhabited. This year they hit the media spotlight for their smart-phone Nakba App, showing the locations of all the deserted villages.
Some insist that it is all in the past. But the dispossession continues, as tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Galilee, in Haifa and Acre and Yaffo, the Bedouin of the Negev, the Jordan Valley and the South Hebron hillhills,Hills, and thousands more in East Jerusalem, receive demolition notices followed by bulldozers protected by the army, in pursuit of the Israeli establishment’s official policy of Judaisation: a message brought home to the gathering by Ilan Pappe the historian who uncovers the records of the ethnic cleansing plans.
Another speaker, Samer Issawi, had put his life on the line to lead an epic prisoners’ hunger strike for justice — a strike that has just been re-launched by hundreds of political prisoners in Israel’s jails whose crime is to fight for a future for the Palestinian people.
Photos by Ryan Rodrick Beiler, Alternative Information Centre
Yafa One Democratic State:
Naqba Day Statement
Naqba day falls on May 6 this year, the day a majority of Israeli citizens define as the independence day of their country. This day commemorates 66 years to the establishment of the Israeli regime, which replaced the British colonialism which had controlled Palestine. This move was facilitated by, amongst other things, the United Nations partition plan, which provided legitimacy to the Jewish settlement that had grown under British auspices. The ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population from Palestine began already in December 1947: some 750,000 non-Jewish residents of Palestine became refugees whose right to return to their homeland has been denied ever since.
We demand: Return of all Palestinian refugee families to their homeland and lands!
The ethnic cleansing that was at the foundation of establishing the Jewish state has continued to this very day in all parts of Palestine — in Arab Jerusalem, Galilee, Negev, Jordan Valley and everywhere in which new settlements are being constructed.
Through ethnic cleansing the Palestinian people was ripped to shreds and instead of an independent and democratic state in Palestine, where some two million people lived before the Naqba (one third Jews and two-thirds Palestinians), political Zionism created an apartheid state in which different laws exist for Jews and for others. The Israeli legislature allowed itself to define some 25 percent of all indigenous Palestinians, citizens of the state of Israel, as “present absentees”, the Palestinian residents of the territories occupied in 1967 as “foreigners” to whom the entry into Israel laws are applicable and the families of the Palestinian Naqba as “absentees”.
These apartheid laws prevent Palestinians from unifying families and using state land. These lands were also stolen from Palestinians who did not become refugees. The Jewish state cynically employs emergency defence regulations which it inherited from the British colonial rule, using them as a weapon against the Palestinian people for 66 years. These laws permit Israel to demolish homes, steal land and conduct detention without trial. Prior to establishment of the state, Zionist leaders contended that these laws “are worse than the Nazi laws”. This didn’t stop them from adopting these laws at their convenience against the Palestinians.
The initiative for a united democratic state to replace the apartheid state is the sole solution for the national question in Palestine and for ending the bloodshed.
This solution includes recognition of the right of return, annulment of the apartheid laws, the freeing of all political prisoners and the transformation of the land between the Jordan River and the sea into a state in which all citizens are equal and possess identical rights.
Establishment of a democratic state in all of historical Palestine also answers the needs of the Jewish population. Only in this way does this population have a chance to become an organic part of the Arab Middle East, and its young people will not be forced to kill and be killed in the name of the apartheid state.
Throughout the country and the world, groups for the one democratic state initiative are already working. Join us!
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