Middle East

Nakba Day is when Palestinians remember the catastrophe of their land being stolen

On 15 May, 1948, the creation of the state of Israel was announced in Tel Aviv. That day is commemorated every year as Nakba Day by the people of occupied Palestine. The “Catastrophe” to which Nakba refers is that in order to create the state, almost 800,000 Palestinians were killed, dispossessed or expelled from their homeland in an act of ethnic cleansing that continues to this day. Around 600 Palestinian towns and villages have — literally — been razed to the ground and wiped off the map of Palestine.

The Zionist state completed the takeover of Palestine in 1967 and has been engaged in its Judaisation ever since. Today, less than 22 per cent of historic Palestine is left for Palestinians if and when they are ever allowed to establish their own independent state. Illegal settlements and their infrastructure eat away at that percentage every day. Catastrophe doesn’t go anywhere near enough in describing what has happened.

Nevertheless, Nakba Day is an opportunity for the Palestinians to draw international attention to what happened in 1948 and continues to happen today: house demolitions, dispossession, brutality, killings and wholesale denial of legitimate rights. All are inherent within Zionism, the pernicious ideology upon which Israel is based. It is the world’s sole remaining settler-colonial movement and state, and it is intent on grabbing as much of Palestine as possible, with as few Palestinians on the land as possible.

Political Zionism emerged in late 19th-century Europe. The ideology is based on the belief that Jews are a distinct nation and race deserving of their own state. In the worldview of the early Zionists, they were incapable of being reliable citizens of the countries in which they were born, hence the pogroms to get rid of them. This was, ironically, a boon to European anti-Semites who had no qualms about effectively blaming the victims of such pogroms for their own persecution and solving “the Jewish problem” by encouraging the creation of a “Jewish State” as envisaged by Theodor Herzl in his book Der Judenstaat.

The strategic importance of the Palestinians in Israel in any upcoming war

Palestine was never Herzl’s first choice for this state. Nevertheless, with help from colonial states and anti-Semites in Europe, that’s where Israel ended up. The exclusive nature of Israel as a state for Jews alone to determine is now on the statute books. It demands a demographic majority of ethnic Jews in Palestine, with the mass expulsion of the Palestinian people from their land if it is required to meet that objective. Palestinian citizens of Israel — around 20 per cent of the population — are regarded by Zionists as a “demographic time bomb” due to their relatively high birth rate.

Despite the ethnic cleansing and attacks by Israeli settlers across the occupied territories, the people of Palestine have never relinquished their legitimate right to their land; to return to their land; and to resist Israel’s military occupation. Palestinian resistance in occupied Jerusalem, Jenin, Gaza and Hebron, for example, demonstrates the unity of purpose of the people who remain unbowed before the nuclear-armed, racist apartheid entity.

The stated wish of the Zionist leadership that “the old will die and the young will forget” has failed to be fulfilled. Young Palestinians today have followed their parents and grandparents in refusing to accept the occupation of their land; and they do so with incredible courage. They would rather die on their feet, resisting the oppressors with honour, than remain enslaved on their knees for the rest of their lives.

The Palestinian resistance leaders have resolved to be principled and uncompromising in the quest for freedom and justice, and are ready to stand alone if necessary. They understand the weakness and corruption of the treacherous Arab regimes that have “normalised” relations with the enemy and emboldened Israel in its tyranny. Compromise on any principle always leads to injustice.

Moreover, Palestinian resistance has exposed the vulnerability of the Israel Defence Forces, shaking the Zionist entity to its rotten core. Israel’s last convincing military victory was in 1967 when it defeated Egypt and Syria in just six days after starting the war by pre-empting an Egyptian attack and destroying Gamal Abdal Nasser’s air force on the ground. Since then, it has suffered a series of military setbacks, including a humiliating loss to Lebanon’s Hezbollah in 2006, and the failure to overcome the armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza in 2008/9, 2012, 2014 and 2021.

According to military analysts, if a guerrilla army survives an attack from a state, then it has won Many ordinary Israelis are now demoralised, and Palestinians have broken the IDF’s famed deterrence factor.

The Palestinian Nakba didn’t end in 1948; it is ongoing

Israel is now reluctant to invade Gaza again using ground troops, not least because the resistance movements have rockets which can reach major Israeli cities and breach air defence systems. In Lebanon, Hezbollah has an estimated 150,000 guided missiles capable of reaching all parts of the occupation state, including its nuclear sites deep in the Negev Desert.

The IDF is the most important and revered institution in Israel. Crack the troop’s confidence, and the edifice of the state will start to crumble. This is happening. Fortress Israel, where military service is compulsory, sees thousands of young Jewish men and women refusing to serve in the army per se, or to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories. Only about half of all eligible citizens enlist, and many more leave during their service.

A million Israelis live abroad, and surveys suggest that 37 per cent of those left in Israel are considering a move to a different country at some time in the future. It’s only a matter of time before that number increases.

The Zionist project to steal Palestinian land for the exclusive use of Jewish immigrants is a dismal failure. It must be clear that such an alien entity planted violently into the heart of the Arab and Muslim world will never be transformed from an enemy to a friend.

A new generation of Palestinians have crossed the fear barrier to emerge, stronger than ever, to confront Israel’s injustices and inhumane occupation. And in the words of Palestinian author Ramzy Baroud, when people are unafraid, they can never be subdued or defeated. The tide has turned. The Palestinians know it; so do Israelis.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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