how many nakbas?

i don’t know if it is possible to keep track of the thousands of nakbas experienced by palestinians. if i were creating a blog today i think i would call it nakba watch. i would keep track of all the murders, massacres, land theft, and political prisoners. here are some of the most recent nakbas palestinians are experiencing this week alone:

from the palestinian information center:

1. Local sources in the occupied city of Jerusalem affirmed Friday that the Israeli occupation authority has notified seven Palestinian Jerusalemite families that their homes will be demolished alleging they were built without permits.

The sources also revealed that the Israeli occupation order was clear and aims at controlling the 16,000 square meter land near the wall of Jerusalem, adding that Israeli foundations were planning to establish tens of settlement units to absorb more Israeli settlers in the city.

Since the eastern part of Jerusalem city came under the Israeli occupation in 1967, the successive Israeli occupation governments spared no time in judaizing the city and attempting to introduce drastic demographic changes in favor of the Jews in the city to preempt any future political settlement with the Palestinians regarding the city.

In Nablus district, big numbers of IOF troops raided the tiny village of Til, west of Nablus city, and rounded up seven Palestinian youths after they ransacked and wreaked havoc in many Palestinian homes in the village.

Another Palestinian youth identified as Mahmood Talal Zaidan, 25, from Jenin city was also rounded up at the Shafi Shamron checkpoint while returning home from work.

from ma’an news:

2. Dozens of Palestinians and international peace activists confronted Israeli bulldozers working in the towns of Ras Teera and Wad Ar-Rasha, southeast of the West Bank city of Qalqiliya.

Local sources said that “the residents of those towns confronted the bulldozers that began to uproot the olive trees there.”

Another insisted that “these bulldozers began uprooting, backed by intensive guard of the Israeli soldiers and policemen, to prevent the residents from obstructing their work.”

The residents called on international organizations to immediately intervene to stop the bulldozing of their land that would lead to destroying sections of electricity, water networks, greenhouses and water wells.

from ma’an news:

3. The Al-Hanoun and Al-Ghawi families have been stationed in front of their Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem, homes since early on 14 March in an effort to prevent their forced evacuation.

The two families, comprising a total of 52 members, received evacuation orders effective 15 March, after which point Israeli authorities said they intend to demolish the homes.

The Coalition for Jerusalem has organized mass rallies outside the homes of the two families in order to bring attention to what they call “Israel’s ethnic cleansing policy” and try to prevent the destruction of the buildings.

According to the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), both the Al-Ghawei and Al-Hanoun families were evicted from their homes by Israeli police in 2002, after Israeli settlers used falsified documents to claim ownership of these houses.

Family members lived in tents for four months before returning to their homes. The families were able to present their documents proving their legal ownership before the courts on the 19th of February, but the eviction orders still remain in effect.

from ghassan bannoura:

4. Bulldozers belonging to the Israeli municipality demolished a Palestinian-owned home, located in Beit Safafa neighborhood in Jerusalem city.

The home is part of a seven story building owned by Abu Khalaf, a Palestinian from Jerusalem. Israeli troops arrived at Beit Safafa on Tuesday morning and surrounded the building. Shortly after, troops forced everyone out and demolished the seventh floor. The Israeli municipality says the home was built without the necessary permission.

Home owner Suha Abu Khalaf told IMEMC, “[f]or several months they have wanted to demolish the flat, but gave no date. It is difficult because they do not give us permission to build the homes which we need to live in. They talk about peace, and then they come and demolish our homes.”

The number of Palestinian-owned homes in Jerusalem that Israel has stated it intends to demolish has reached 179 since the beginning of 2009. The Jerusalem municipality handed out demolition orders to 96 Palestinian families in the first week of March.

in February, demolition orders were isssued for 88 homes in the al-Bustan neighborhood, located immediately south of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s old city. Thousands of Palestinians could become homeless. Local activists fear that yet more orders will be issued shortly.

from ma’an news:

5. The home of 80-year-old Hajj Abdul Mu’ti Salah in Kafr Jammal is on Jewish land, the elderly West Banker was told Sunday, and he must evacuate the property immediately.

Since the beginning of March Israeli forces were seen in the 2,000-year-old village northwest of Qalqiliya, filming, plotting maps, and making detailed notes.

On Sunday, Israeli officers handed a warrant to Salah telling him to evacuate his home claiming it is a Jewish property. The home is known as the “Abu Khilaf home.” Salah grew up in the home, inherited it from his father, and raised his own children there.

“We never heard from our ancestors anything about what the Israeli authorities are claiming now,” local resident Hazim Abd As-Salam said. “The village has been an Arab-Palestinian village since the beginnings of history. The area they claim to be Jewish property is an archeological site dating back to more than two thousand years, It’s full of Roman and Byzantine artifacts, and there is no single clue to support what they claim.”

The house, added Abd As-Salam, “is next to an ancient mosque,” that his parents’ parents’ grandparents prayed in, “The whole village belongs to the Arab and Islamic civilization,” he added.

The eviction and confiscation order came the same day Israeli forces re-occupied the Ar-Rajabi home in Hebron. The home had been claimed using illegal sale documents and occupied by ultra-orthodox Israeli settlers. The settlers were ordered out of the home by the Israeli high court, and when the reused to leave they were forcibly evicted on 4 December. During the incident settlers from the nearby Kiriyat Arba settlement rioted and shot a Palestinian bystander at point blank range.

Israeli soldiers, not settlers this time, occupied the home and claimed as a military base.

Also on 15 March the eviction orders on two homes in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, took effect. A mass eviction and demolition order also stands on 88 Palestinian homes in Silwan, another neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

In early February it was revealed that an Israeli military tribunal had issued a decision rejecting eight separate petitions, each representing dozens of Palestinians, objecting to a 2004 declaration by the Israeli Civil Administration to designate some 1,700 dunums (1.7 square kilometers) of land north of the West Bank settlemtn Efrat as “state land.”

In Kafr Jammal, Salah is so sick that he can’t speak and his wife feels powerless to stop the eviction and confiscation of her home.

6. More than thirty ancient olive trees were uprooted today in the West bank village Ras a Tira, in order to build new route for the separation fence that passes most of the village lands to the settlement Alfe Menashe. Watch for yourself:

from ma’an news:

7. Israel will not allow shipment construction materials need to rebuild the Gaza Strip until captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is released, the director of the UN’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday.

for some context as to why israeli terrorists keep enacting nakba after nakba one must understand that zionism = racism. ben ehrenreich has an amazing op ed in my home town newspaper, the los angeles times this week explaining the racist roots of zionism in a most eloquent essay:

It’s hard to imagine now, but in 1944, six years after Kristallnacht, Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, felt comfortable equating the Zionist ideal of Jewish statehood with “the concept of a racial state — the Hitlerian concept.” For most of the last century, a principled opposition to Zionism was a mainstream stance within American Judaism.

Even after the foundation of Israel, anti-Zionism was not a particularly heretical position. Assimilated Reform Jews like Rosenwald believed that Judaism should remain a matter of religious rather than political allegiance; the ultra-Orthodox saw Jewish statehood as an impious attempt to “push the hand of God”; and Marxist Jews — my grandparents among them — tended to see Zionism, and all nationalisms, as a distraction from the more essential struggle between classes.

To be Jewish, I was raised to believe, meant understanding oneself as a member of a tribe that over and over had been cast out, mistreated, slaughtered. Millenniums of oppression that preceded it did not entitle us to a homeland or a right to self-defense that superseded anyone else’s. If they offered us anything exceptional, it was a perspective on oppression and an obligation born of the prophetic tradition: to act on behalf of the oppressed and to cry out at the oppressor.

For the last several decades, though, it has been all but impossible to cry out against the Israeli state without being smeared as an anti-Semite, or worse. To question not just Israel’s actions, but the Zionist tenets on which the state is founded, has for too long been regarded an almost unspeakable blasphemy.

Yet it is no longer possible to believe with an honest conscience that the deplorable conditions in which Palestinians live and die in Gaza and the West Bank come as the result of specific policies, leaders or parties on either side of the impasse. The problem is fundamental: Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion (think of the 139-square-mile prison camp that Gaza has become) or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism.

It has been argued that Zionism is an anachronism, a leftover ideology from the era of 19th century romantic nationalisms wedged uncomfortably into 21st century geopolitics. But Zionism is not merely outdated. Even before 1948, one of its basic oversights was readily apparent: the presence of Palestinians in Palestine. That led some of the most prominent Jewish thinkers of the last century, many of them Zionists, to balk at the idea of Jewish statehood. The Brit Shalom movement — founded in 1925 and supported at various times by Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt and Gershom Scholem — argued for a secular, binational state in Palestine in which Jews and Arabs would be accorded equal status. Their concerns were both moral and pragmatic. The establishment of a Jewish state, Buber feared, would mean “premeditated national suicide.”

The fate Buber foresaw is upon us: a nation that has lived in a state of war for decades, a quarter-million Arab citizens with second-class status and more than 5 million Palestinians deprived of the most basic political and human rights. If two decades ago comparisons to the South African apartheid system felt like hyperbole, they now feel charitable. The white South African regime, for all its crimes, never attacked the Bantustans with anything like the destructive power Israel visited on Gaza in December and January, when nearly1,300 Palestinians were killed, one-third of them children.

Israeli policies have rendered the once apparently inevitable two-state solution less and less feasible. Years of Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have methodically diminished the viability of a Palestinian state. Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has even refused to endorse the idea of an independent Palestinian state, which suggests an immediate future of more of the same: more settlements, more punitive assaults.

All of this has led to a revival of the Brit Shalom idea of a single, secular binational state in which Jews and Arabs have equal political rights. The obstacles are, of course, enormous. They include not just a powerful Israeli attachment to the idea of an exclusively Jewish state, but its Palestinian analogue: Hamas’ ideal of Islamic rule. Both sides would have to find assurance that their security was guaranteed. What precise shape such a state would take — a strict, vote-by-vote democracy or a more complex federalist system — would involve years of painful negotiation, wiser leaders than now exist and an uncompromising commitment from the rest of the world, particularly from the United States.

Meanwhile, the characterization of anti-Zionism as an “epidemic” more dangerous than anti-Semitism reveals only the unsustainability of the position into which Israel’s apologists have been forced. Faced with international condemnation, they seek to limit the discourse, to erect walls that delineate what can and can’t be said.

It’s not working. Opposing Zionism is neither anti-Semitic nor particularly radical. It requires only that we take our own values seriously and no longer, as the book of Amos has it, “turn justice into wormwood and hurl righteousness to the ground.”

Establishing a secular, pluralist, democratic government in Israel and Palestine would of course mean the abandonment of the Zionist dream. It might also mean the only salvation for the Jewish ideals of justice that date back to Jeremiah.

also worth checking out is my dear friend naji ali’s interview with ronnie kasrils on crossing the line this week. you can download the mp3 by clicking this link. kasrils, a jewish south african who was active in the anti-apartheid movement, gives a very clear comparison between the apartheid he grew up under and the one here in palestine.

on a related note, the palestinian boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement have organized an important conference on this subject of the apartheid, racist zionist state to dovetail with the world conference on racism in geneva:

The Israel Review Conference will take place in Geneva on 18 – 19 April, two days before the United Nations’ Durban Review Conference (http://www.un.org/durbanreview2009/) will examine the progress made in implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) adopted by the World Conference Against Racism (2001) and strengthen its recommendations.

The Israel Review Conference will bring together internationally renowned experts and actors for social and political justice who will:

examine how the UN anti-racism instruments apply to Israel’s policies and practices regarding the Palestinian people; and,

develop practical recommendations on how to make Israel accountable to international law and protect the rights of the Palestinian people.

The second day of the conference will be reserved for self-organized workshops and planning meetings of the global Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law.

The Israel Review Conference is open to the public. It will be held at the Hotel Le Grenil, Avenue Sainte-Clotilde 7, 1205 Geneva.

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