May 15 is observed by Palestinians as Nakba Day. Nakba is the Arabic word for catastrophe. The catastrophe that is observed is the partition of Palestinian land into two parts: 55% for a Jewish state, the rest for a Palestinian state. The date chosen for this observance is the day after Israel declared its Independence in 1948. For the Jews this meant a nation to call their own. For the Palestinians it was a catastrophe as more than half of their land was designated for the creation of a state for 30% of the population.
However, the Nakba did not begin on the day after Jewish independence. The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947. The partition was to become effective at the end of the British Mandate in May 1948. The Nakba began almost immediately. The Jewish paramilitary terrorist organizations Hagganah, Irgun, and Lehi began the removal of Palestinians from villages and cities in the land allocated for a Jewish state. This removal was done by false promises, threats, and massacres.
When an armistice was declared in 1949, the new nation of Israel had removed about half of the Palestinians from their homes creating 750,000 refugees.
What is most tragic is that the Nakba continues. Land continues to be stolen from the Palestinians to build the separation wall and the settlements, now home to about 500,000 Israeli Jews. And the Nakba goes on. May 1 news report: “Israeli forces demolished several residential and commercial buildings in [Palestinian] East Jerusalem on Wednesday….”
We, as Americans, should be outraged that billions of our tax dollars support Israel. We, as Christians, should be ashamed that we are complicit in these outrageous violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people.
Here is the view of Mazin Qumseyeh, a Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem:
Jesus was a Palestinian martyr; he was born in Palestine and spoke the language of my ancestors’ Aramaic, the precursor of the Arabic language. He believed in resistance like turning tables of profiteers at the temple, challenging the leaders, etc. He did not spend any time congratulating the rich and powerful or visiting their palaces. When he did encounter the rich and powerful (e.g. Pharisees) he called them hypocrites. I use it also to describe powerful today. For example, they speak of democracy and human rights while daily violating those. They speak of love of God but they murder, steal, lie, and cheat to get money and resources and land of others. So, I think what Jesus would do if he was still physically walking in these hills here is that he would join us in protests at the apartheid wall and stand in front of bulldozers uprooting olive trees and destroying Palestinian homes. He would also still be telling us to be hopeful that the Son of Man will be brought to life again and that Palestine will be free again. We Palestinians do have some experience with resurrection.
Contributed by Wilbur Wood, West Hills Friends