We have come to the 69th anniversary of Al Nakba. While it is important that we dive toward a brighter future with a possible two-state solution for Palestine and Israel, we must not forget the ravages of the past that brought us to today. Here are five questions and answers concerning the event:
Q: What is Al Nakba?
A: Literally, Al Nakba is a Palestinian coined term meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic. Nakba Day denotes the mass exodus of Palestinians who were forced to abandon their homes or were killed by Israeli military forces in 1948. The exact numbers of casualties are extremely hard to find, however, Al Jazeera estimates there to be a “forced removal of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and the destruction of over 500 villages and towns.”
Q: What is the context of the event?
A: After a bloody war against Palestine, Israel declared itself an independent state on May 14, 1948. Because Jews were often persecuted or denied the ability to own land in other countries (especially under the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence), the newly-formed state posited that any Jew could come to this safe haven and be granted full citizenship. Palestinians wanted a similar deal given the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the major Westernization of the region, but because of the deep rift between Israelis and Palestinians, a similar law was not granted.
Q: What were the ramifications of the event?
A: Annually, the day is often met with rallies, protests, and dialogues around the world surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A two-state solution, while proposed several times by outside figures such as former Secretary of State John Kerry, has not been reached.
Q: How does Israel feel about the event?
A: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly denounced the Palestinian event, stating, “Israel was not responsible for the Palestinian tragedy, their leadership is.” Laws to suppress activism have additionally been enacted, allowing Israel’s finance minister to withdraw funding from institutions that reject Israel’s character as a “Jewish state” or consider the country’s “Independence Day” as a day of mourning, Al Jazeera Reported.
Q: How can I learn more about Al Nakba day?
A: Here are some great websites to start. In the spirit of being well-informed and well-rounded, I have included some links from the point of view of Israelis. Share more in the comments below: