The Nakba at 67

May 15, 2015

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May 15 is the day Palestinians worldwide will mark 67 years since the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”): the dispossession, forced exile, and ethnic cleansing of some 750,000 Palestinians from their land before and during the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Read Ghada Ageel’s excellent article, “The Nakba 67 years on: Holding tight to our long postponed dreams.”

Attend the Edmonton commemoration dinner on May 17, hosted by the Canada Palestine Cultural Association.

Visualizing Palestine has created an interactive tool to show Palestine shrinking and Israel expanding since 1948.

For an in-depth history of the Nakba and Plan Dalet, read Ilan Pappé’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

Al Jazeera in 2008 produced an award-winning series on the Nakba, which you can watch for free below.

Parts 1 & 2:

Parts 3 & 4:

Here are some key facts and figures about the Nakba from the Institute for Middle East Understanding:

General Facts & Figures

  • The Palestinian “Nakba” (“catastrophe” in Arabic) refers to the mass expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from British Mandate Palestine during Israel’s creation (1947-49).
  • The Nakba was not an unintended result of war. It was a deliberate and systematic act necessary for the creation of a Jewish majority state in historic Palestine, which was overwhelmingly Arab prior to 1948. Internally, Zionist Jewish leaders used the euphemism “transfer” when discussing plans for what today would be called ethnic cleansing.
  • The Nakba’s roots lay in the emergence of political Zionism in 19th century Europe, when some Jews, influenced by the nationalism then sweeping the continent, concluded that the remedy to centuries of anti-Semitic persecution in Europe and Russia was the creation of a nation state for Jews in Palestine and began emigrating as colonists to the Holy Land, displacing indigenous Palestinians in the process.
  • In November 1947, following the horrors of World War II and the Nazi genocide of European Jewry, the newly-created United Nations approved a plan to partition Mandate Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. It allocated approximately 55% of the land to the proposed Jewish state, although Zionist Jews owned only about 7% of the private land in Palestine and made up only about 33% of the population, a large percentage of whom were recent immigrants from Europe. The Palestinian Arab state was to be created on 42% of Mandate Palestine, with Jerusalem becoming an international city. (See here for map of the partition plan and subsequent 1949 armistice lines.)
  • Almost immediately after the partition plan was passed, violence broke out and large-scale expulsions of Palestinians began, long before the armies of neighboring Arab states became involved. When Zionist forces finished expanding, the new state of Israel comprised 78% of historic Palestine, with the remainder, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, falling under the control of Jordan and Egypt, respectively. In the 1967 War, Israel occupied the remaining 22% and began colonizing them shortly thereafter.
  • The Nakba did not end in 1948 and continues until today, in the form of Israel’s ongoing theft of Palestinian land for settlements and for Jewish communities inside Israel, its destruction of Palestinian homes and agricultural land, revocation of residency rights , deportations, periodic brutal military assaults that result in mass civilian casualties such as the one that took place in Gaza in the summer of 2014, and the denial of the internationally recognized legal right of return of millions of stateless Palestinian refugees.

The Nakba by the Numbers

  • Between 750,000 and one million: The number of Palestinians expelled and made refugees by Zionist paramilitaries, and subsequently Israeli forces, during Israel’s creation in 1947-49.
  • Between 250,000 and 350,000: The number of Palestinians expelled from their homes by Zionist paramilitaries between the passage of the UN partition plan in November 1947 and Israel’s declaration of independence on May 15, 1948 – prior to the start of the war with neighboring Arab states.
  • Approximately 7.1 million: The number of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons as of 2009, including Nakba survivors and their descendants. They are located mostly in the occupied West Bank and neighboring Arab countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, denied their internationally recognized legal right to return to their homeland by Israel, simply because they are not Jewish.
  • Approximately 150,000 : The number of Palestinians who remained inside what became Israel’s borders in 1948, many of them internally displaced. These Palestinians (sometimes called “Israeli Arabs”) were granted Israeli citizenship but stripped of most of their land and placed under martial law until 1966. Today, there are approximately 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, who live as second-class citizens in their own homeland, subject to more than 50 laws that discriminate against them because they are not Jewish.
  • At least two dozen: The number of massacres of Palestinian civilians by Zionist and Israeli forces, which played a crucial role in spurring the mass flight of Palestinians from their homes.
  • Approximately 100: The number of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, massacred in the town of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, by members of the Irgun and Stern Gang, pre-state Zionist terrorist organizations led by future Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, respectively.
  • More than 400: The number of Palestinian cities and towns systematically destroyed by Israeli forces or repopulated with Jews between 1948 and 1950. Most Palestinian population centers, including homes, businesses, houses of worship, and vibrant urban centers, were demolished to prevent the return of their Palestinian owners, now refugees outside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders, or internally displaced inside of them. (See here for interactive map of Palestinian population centers destroyed during Israel’s creation.)
  • Approximately 4,244,776: The number of acres of Palestinian land expropriated by Israel during and immediately following its creation in 1948.
  • Between $100 and $200 billion: The total estimated monetary loss of Palestinians dispossessed during Israel’s creation, in current US dollars.

 


The Nakba 67 years on: Holding on tight to our long postponed dreams

May 15, 2015

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The following article by Ghada Ageel was published on May 13, 2015 in the Middle East Eye:

The Nakba 67 years on: Holding on tight to our long postponed dreams

Sixty-seven years ago, Palestinians woke up to a tragedy that ravaged their hearts and distorted Palestinian life forever. Over 800,000 people, approximately half of the population of then-mandatory Palestine, were evicted from their homes and their ancestors’ lands. The horror was engraved on all of the faces; a language and reality they shared for decades – many to this day.

Scattered all over the Middle East and prevented by Israel from returning home, dignified landowners who overnight had turned into refugees didn’t need to ask about the fate of their home. The broken bodies and spirits of hundreds of thousands forced into exile answered their question. Palestine was no more.

Today, almost seven decades after the ethnic cleansing, some of the Palestinians born in Palestine are still alive and still remember the horror of the 1948 dispossession and those miserable days. The generations who were born after the loss of their homeland – be it under the Israeli military occupation or in exile – and who didn’t witness the tragic experiences lived by parents and grandparents, do still retain the story. In their hearts and minds, the memory of the Nakba (catastrophe) is as strong, present and fresh as for those who witnessed it and so are the hopes and dreams that refuse to fade despite the savage winds of war and time.

Unable to return to their home that became present-day Israel, Palestinian refugees were obliged to live in great uncertainty about their future in the 59 refugee camps established by the United Nations. There, they awaited action by the international community to pressure Israel to implement the right of return. Sitting in their tents winter after winter, the only hope for them back then was the one offered by Article 11 of UN Resolution 194 of 1948, which resolves that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date”. Sixty-seven years after that belated date, millions of Palestinian refugees are still barred from returning home and still live a life of perpetual waiting, enduring multiple hardships in their long exile.

A quick glimpse at the situation of Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, the refugees locked in the Gaza prison, those living behind the apartheid wall in the West Bank, those Palestinians who are currently on the run for their lives in Yemen and those risking their lives in the Mediterranean taking death journeys to escape insecurity and search for safety for their families, tells the same old and new story of continued Nakba, one of constant suffering with no end in sight.

Horrific pictures and catastrophic stories of Palestinian refugees continue to come in different forms and shapes adding more unkind chapters to the devastating mother story of the 1948 disaster. Mohammed Maddi, 36 years old from Gaza, is the latest victim in the ongoing Palestinian Nakba. The young father passed away on 4 May in Abu Yussef al-Najjar hospital in Rafah refugee camp. He had waited in vain for over six months for Gaza’s only border crossing with Egypt to open. When his hopes for the opening of Rafah gate faded away, he applied for a permit to travel through Israel to receive treatment available either in the West Bank or Jordanian hospitals. A piece of paper that granted life or death, hope or despair, called a permit, was never issued despite the seriousness of Mohammed’s condition and the worsening of his health. Doctors in Gaza did all that they could given the hospital’s thin resources, severe shortages of medicines and medical products resulting from the inhumane blockade imposed by the Israeli occupation, the longest in human history. At the end of a nine-month battle with cancer, Mohammed succumbed to a fate he might have avoided had he not lived in Gaza.

Living under the constant fear and despair of possibly losing his son in Gaza – where everything is uncertain and basic life necessities such as electricity, fuel and nowadays water are unavailable for most of the day – Mohammed’s father sent a plea to the world. In an interview with Al-Watan Voice, hours before his son’s death, the father broke into tears asking the interviewer: “My son is dying a hundred times a day, every day. I want him to live for his children. Tell me where to go, please. Borders are closed, doors of life are shut and everything is closed. Can anyone tell me where to go? World, Arabs, this is unfair. Where is humanity?”

Mohammed’s tragic story and the words of his father provide just a single example of what denial and oppression mean to Palestinian refugees. The story summed it all up and exposed the 67 years of open wounds. This is an ongoing Nakba for Palestinians living under the Israeli colonial enterprise, as well as for those Palestinians scattered far away from home, trapped in war zones with a suspended present and no future, no place to go, no papers, no documents, no alternatives and no hope.

On the other hand, the story of Mohammed and the words of his father create the story of a grand nation with a rich culture and history that was abandoned by humanity, yet created a determined people with aspirations and an unshakable belief in their rights and their cause. These refugees are resilient and steadfast despite the horrors to which they have been subjected. They are still able to question, rationalise and look for alternatives. They are still able to shake the silence and make their demands, love for life and anguish heard. Their story is one of Palestinian heroes in and outside Gaza hospitals working day and night on half or no salaries.

The narrative about refugees is always associated with empathy, poverty, backwardness, powerlessness and violence. The story of Palestinian refugees, however, extends far beyond the de-contextualised renderings of that mainstream narrative. Poverty and violence are imposed on Palestinian refugees who, despite the unbearable situation, are still counted among the best educated and hardest working in the Middle East. They still hold on tight to their dreams and demands for rights.

On the 67th anniversary of the Nakba, the new generations are better aware of their rights, and ready to fight to gain them back. Moreover, refugees have started to address publicly the reality that many of them have shared privately: Palestinians are being erased not just by Israel, but also by the powers and systems that endorsed the 1948 tragedy, allowing it to continue unchallenged. They are further harmed by complicit governments’ silence.

When I saw my grandmother following last summer’s barbaric Israeli assault on Gaza, she repeated to me and to my children Tarek, 14, and Aziz, 6, the same words she had said in 2012. She talked about our village, Beit Daras, from which she was expelled in 1948. She talked about its beauty, freshness, water well, land, farms and the sycamore trees that she loved dearly. She also repeated once again that she is no longer worried about the future that she’s wanted for so long. She looked to us and said “For many years, I felt as if I were walking alone. And as you know, walking alone is not a pleasant way to make a journey. Now, because of my age, I cannot walk, but I’m not alone anymore. I can now rest in peace even if I am not yet in Beit Daras. I now know that Beit Daras is in your heart, and I also know that you are not alone in your journey.”

Ghada Ageel is a visiting professor at the University of Alberta Political Science Department (Edmonton, Canada), an independent scholar, and active in the Faculty4Palestine-Alberta. Her new book “Apartheid in Palestine: Hard Laws and harder experiences” is forthcoming with the University of Alberta Press – Canada. 


Nakba Day Commemoration Dinner

May 1, 2015

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Nakba Day Commemoration Dinner
Hosted by the Canada Palestine Cultural Association
Sunday, May 17 (Doors at 6:00 pm)
Edmonton Islamic Academy
14525-127 Street
Adults: $35, Children: $20

Help spread the word! Invite your friends to the Facebook event.

The Canada Palestine Cultural Association invites you to its annual Nakba Day Commemoration Dinner. Palestinians generally commemorate the Nakba, otherwise known as “The Catastrophe” on May 15th of each year. The Nakba is every Palestinians calamity, for some it is a homeland they were forced to leave and for others a homeland they never knew. Every year we gather to commemorate the Nakba, we mourn all that was taken, we mourn our loved ones who suffered through an unimaginable tragedy. We mourn our villages and our cities that are now known by names foreign to our tongues. We mourn our stone homes, our mosques and our churches that bore our darkest hour, standing, waiting for our indefinite return. On this day, we come together as Palestinians in the diaspora, as a community, and as a family and we relearn our history, we teach it to our children, and we honor those who came before us.

For Tickets please contact:
Ali Elmustafa: (780) 915-2696
Mousa Qasqas: (587) 337-2313
Hani Househ: (780) 904-8007


Speed Sisters at Global Visions Film Festival

May 1, 2015

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Speed Sisters
Edmonton Premiere at the Global Visions Film Festival
Saturday, May 9 (Noon – 2:00 pm)
Metro Cinema (Garneau Theatre)
8712-109 Street

Buy advanced tickets to the screening or the festival.

Help spread the word! Invite your friends to the Facebook event.

Despite restrictions on movement, a motor racing scene has emerged in the West Bank. The races offer a release from the pressures and uncertainties of life under military occupation. The spirited competition between cities brings spectators out in the thousands, lining rooftops and leaning over barricades to snap photos of their favorite drivers and to catch their final times on the scoreboard.

Brought together by a common desire to live life on their own terms, five determined women have joined the ranks of dozens of male drivers — competing against each other for the title, for bragging rights for their hometown, and to prove that women can compete head on with the guys.

The Speed Sisters are the first all-women race car driving team in the Middle East. They’re bold. They’re fearless. And they’re tearing up tracks all over Palestine.

Both intimate and action-filled, Speed Sisters captures the drive to defy all odds, leaving in its trail shattered stereotypes about gender and the Arab world.

Speed Sisters in an Hot Docs 2015 Official Selection.

Watch an interview with director Amber Fares and driver Noor Daoud on Canada AM.


Gideon Levy in Edmonton

March 18, 2015

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Israeli Elections: What Next For Israel-Palestine
Featuring Gideon Levy
Thursday, March 26 (7:00 pm)
Telus Building Room 150
(Corner of 111 Street & 87 Avenue, University of Alberta Campus)
(Click here for map)

Renowned Israeli author and human rights journalist Gideon Levy will be coming to Canada just days after the Israeli elections, and will speak about the Palestine-Israel conflict in light of the election results.

Ticket prices are $15 in advance / $20 at the door (students: $10 in advance / $12 at the door)

The Edmonton event of the tour is co-sponsored by the University of Alberta Department of Political Science, Independent Jewish Voices – Edmonton, and CJPME.

About Gideon Levy

Gideon Levy is both a long-time journalist with Haaretz, as well as a member of its editorial board. Levy has won journalism awards, including the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award in 1996 by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Anna Lindh foundation journalism award in 2008 for an article he wrote about Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces, and the Peace Through Media Award in 2012. He has been described as “a powerful liberal voice” by The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and praised by Johann Hari of The Independent as “the heroic Israeli journalist.” Literary critic Nicholas Lezard described him as “an Israeli dedicated to saving his country’s honour,” and he has also been profiled in Le Monde and Der Spiegel. Mr. Levy made international news in December when he was detained for a day or two by Israeli security forces as he was crossing between the West Bank and Israel.


Inside Israel’s Race Wars with Journalist David Sheen

February 12, 2015

Inside Israel’s Race Wars
Featuring David Sheen
Monday, March 2 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) Room 1-498
South Corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street, U of A Campus
(Click here for map)

Help us spread the word! Invite your friends to the Facebook event!

Journalist David Sheen will give a lecture and slideshow about Israeli incitement to racist violence, the focus of his on-the-ground reporting for the past five years. The core of Sheen’s presentation concerns the dehumanizing discourse towards African asylum seekers, Palestinians, and other non-Jews by top Israeli political and religious leaders, and the vigilante attacks they inspire, which spiked during last summer’s assault on the Gaza Strip. The presentation will include material Sheen presented at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Brussels, as well as some brand new information that has not previously been made public.

About David Sheen

David Sheen is an independent journalist and filmmaker originally from Toronto, Canada who now lives in Dimona, Israel. Sheen began blogging when he first moved to Israel in 1999 and later went on to work as a reporter and editor at the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz. He now writes for a variety of local, regional and international outlets, and his work is quoted in publications like The New York Times and The Guardian. Sheen is currently writing a book about African immigrants to Israel and the struggles they face. His website is davidsheen.com and he tweets from @davidsheen.


Palestinian Bazaar 2015

February 8, 2015

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The Palestinian Bazaar
Saturday, March 14 (Noon – 10:00 pm)
Citadel Theatre
9828-101A Avenue
(Click here for map)

Help spread the word! Invite your friends to the Facebook event.

Humanserve International is hosting the third Palestinian Bazaar, a full-day festival celebration of the cultural richness of the Palestinian people!

We know the struggles. We know the politics. We know the pain. Do we really know the talent of the people?

It is time to celebrate the contributions Palestinians make to society through their art, film, food, products, knowledge, literature and their music.

The free, all-ages Bazaar runs from noon – 5:00 pm,  featuring fashion, food, music, dance, vendors and art.

The evening event, Comedy With a Cause, features Dean Obeidallah and Amer Zahr, along with local Edmonton talent. Doors open at 6:30 pm, show starts at 7:00 in The Club, Citadel Theatre. Please note that the evening event is age 15+ (infants & small children will not be permitted into the theatre)

Comedy with a cause advance tickets are $40 (including GST and fees), tickets at the door are $45 (including GST and fees).


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