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16 May, 2012

Palestinians Mark Nakba, Seek Freedom from Israeli Occupation

Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D.

On this 64th anniversary of the Nakba we mourn the ethnic cleansing that began in 1948 and that continues today with silent transfer, home demolitions, land confiscation and more. But we also celebrate an amazing resilience and success of the Palestinian endogenous people against incredible odds:

- We just celebrated the success of a hunger strike by over 1,600 political prisoners despite attempts to stifle the story in Zionist-dominated Western media. They succeeded in achieving a part of their basic rights including receiving family visits and ending solitary confinement.

- We are 11.5 million people and while most of us are refugees and displaced people, we remain steadfast and hopeful and connected. Thanks to persistence and now the internet and modern communications, even the feeble attempts to isolate us from each other failed. Thousands of Palestinians still go to their main city of Jerusalem without Israeli permission. Thousands connect across the Green line to the areas occupied since 1948.

- We are still the most educated people in the Middle East with the highest per capita of postgraduates.

- We now have 12 universities inside the occupied Palestinan territories. On Saturday we held the second biomedical research symposium in Bethlehem showing scientific work rivaling that done in countries with a strong tradition of research. This is miraculous considering the conditions under occupation.

- We are still the people who helped develop the Arab world and even remind it of its unity and common destiny. But more than that, our resistance shielded fellow Arabs from the original plans of Zionists for an empire from the Nile to the Euphrates. We are still the main obstacle to the victory of the racist Zionist project.

- We have an amazing history of 130 years of struggle against the most well-financed, most-organized, most-supported (by Zionists and their Western backers) colonial project in human history.

- We have the fastest growing boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in anti-colonial struggles. In less than 7 years we accomplished far more than what was accomplished with BDS in any other place (including in 25 years in South Africa).

- Palestine is still the place where people of different religions lived together in the same neighborhod unsegregated until European Zionists came and recreated ghettos for Palestinians (Muslims and Christians) and one large ghetto for Jews called Israel coexist in harmony. Church bells and the call of the Muezzin to prayer still penetrate deep in our souls despite all the Zionist attempts to silence them (e.g. the ethnic cleansing and destruction of 530 villages and towns).

- We educate our children that racism and notions of choseness are wrong and they grow to believe that we can still have the new Palestine that will be like our old Palestine: multiethnic, multireligious, multicultural and beautiful.

- Palestinians inspired activists around the world. Polls show great sympathy for our cause among average people. Palestine is now cause celebre among those struggling against oppression. Even Nelson Mandela said that South Africa will not be fully free until Palestine is free. According to polls, a majority in Western Europe correctly view Israel and the US as the two greatest threats to world peace. Thousands of internationals joined us in the struggle locally. Israel has become so paranoid about any solidarity visits and in the process exposed its apartheid racist nature.

We are grateful to be participants in shaping a better future for all. I am 100% sure that our Nakba will end, refugees will return, freedom and equality will happen, and Israelis will also be liberated from being oppressors and colonizers and become integrated into the fabric of the new and better Palestine. We can then become a “light unto the peoples.”

Died: Vidal Sassoon who volunteered for and fought in the Israeli army during the ethnic cleansing in 1948 (the largest since WWII). His “beauty” empire participated (and continues) in the financing of the ugly Zionist crimes against humanity.

Podcast Radio interview: Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh of Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities, author of Popular Resistance in Palestine: a History of Hope and Empowerment.

Lest we forget: Palestinian Refugees: Right to Return and Repatriation.

Chapter 4 from Sharing The Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle”.

Two chapters from a new book titled “The Case For Sanctions Against Israel”

Hind Awwad: “Six Years of BDS: Success!”

Ilan Pappé: the boycott will work, an Israeli perspective

See this link to an al-Jazeera documentary about the theft of books from Palestinian homes and libraries during the 1948 war. It is a very tragic story with many of the books looted from Khalil al-Sakakini’s library and others, then kept at the Israeli national library. There is an opening poem by Sakakini dedicated to his stolen books.

Phil Monsour features Rafeef Ziadah – Ghosts of Deir Yassin

A Heroic and Historic Victory

Message From Stefanie Fox, Jewish Voice for Peace

Dear Supporter,

Yesterday morning I felt chills talking to our close allies in Palestine/Israel as they shared with us the news: nearly 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners holding one of the largest hunger strikes in history had succeeded.

As details emerge, we should all look to Palestinian civil society leaders to interpret the nuances of the agreement.

But for now, there is one thing all of us can all agree on. This agreement marks a historic moment in the long history of Palestinian nonviolent resistance to unjust Israeli actions. The success of the massive hunger strike may very well inspire a new generation of unarmed struggle.

Yesterday, as long term strikers entered their 77th day, and 2,000 more approached a full month of refusing all sustenance, Israel was compelled to allow family visits for prisoners from Gaza, end the policy of solitary confinement, and significantly reduce and limit the use of detention without trial, also known as administrative detention.

The hunger strike inspired unprecedented support throughout Palestinian society and the world. And Jewish Voice for Peace supporters were an important part of the story.

The leaders of unarmed resistance in the villages of Palestine, the Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee, came specifically to Jewish Voice for Peace to ask for our help.

And we did not let them down!

Just hours before the strike ended, we delivered our 8,000 signatures to the United States State Department with our friends at the US Campaign to End the Occupation. And over 500 of us from 350 cities around the world had already volunteered to lead solidarity protests on Thursday. Many thousand more were set to join us.

The news yesterday is surely cause for celebration, and it’s also a great reminder of what will be possible if we redouble our efforts in the nonviolent movement for justice in Palestine/Israel. This morning our allies in Palestine/Israel issued a statement about the hunger striker victory and a call for further action.

Click here to read more from Palestinian leaders about the hunger striker victory and what you can do now!