76th Palestinian Nakba: Commemoration, Resistance, Liberation


Palestinian activists and their supporters rallied on May 18 at the National Mall on a wet and dreary day in observance of the 76th anniversary of the Nakba — catastrophe, in Arabic — by announcing that their assembly’s goal was “More Than Commemoration” it was “Resistance Until Total Liberation.”

Considered the foundational symbol of Palestinian national identity, the Nakba refers to the May 15, 1948 war by Zionists in British-ruled Palestine that displaced and dispossessed Palestinians from their homeland, along with the destruction of their culture and society.

The war resulted in around 500 Arab-majority towns and villages being destroyed and dozens of massacres targeting Palestinians. Approximately 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled by Zionist forces creating a permanent Palestinian refugee population along with the rejection of their right of return.

Lest anyone believe that the Nakba was an isolated historical fact, the first speaker, a woman from the Palestinian Youth Movement, recalled that “For the past seven months the ongoing genocide has demonstrated that the Nakba didn’t start or end in 1948, it is ongoing.” Citing massacres, genocide, forced starvation and torture against Gazans, she noted that this has all been supported by the United States government whose funding for Israel utilizes taxpayer dollars from Americans, many of whom have family in Gaza, thus making them complicit in the murder of their own family members.

Recalling, too, that Gazans have had to watch daily as their doctors, journalists and entire families are being massacred and that the Israeli military has displaced almost two million people who have been forced to relocate to “safe zones,” only to be bombed repeatedly resulting in further deaths and destruction.

She said: “As Palestinian Youth, this struggle is our responsibility, and it belongs to us. There is no liberation without the return of all the refugees,” including those from the diaspora who have the right of return to their homeland. Vowing to resist until that goal is accomplished, she closed by relaying a message of solidarity in Arabic from Washington to those in Gaza.

The second speaker discussed how “Genocide Joe” had called the invasion of Rafah a “red line” and that his recent announcement of a pause in the transfer of arms to Israel was soon followed by a report from his administration that said it is “reasonable to assess” Israel has been using U.S.-supplied weapons in contravention to both U.S. and international law. While this constitutes a war crime, Biden a few days later, announced an additional one billion dollars in aid for Israel in its war against Hamas on top of the already 14.1 billion dollars recently allocated by Congress.

“It is in our power to influence our government’s action to say, we do not want our money funding occupation,” the speaker said. “We must relentlessly badger our government and Congress to respond to their constituents, us, and not pledge allegiance to a foreign entity. May our collective voices be a catalyst for liberation, may our steadfast determinations bring peace for Palestine.”

Speaking from personal experience, Randa, a Palestinian-American woman, told the crowd that “since the genocide we have lost over 40 members of our family and probably even more. We are all living the genocide live, everyday, day in and day out. Every picture coming out of Gaza delivers a more powerful message than any speech ever will.” She went on to tell of the horror her family experiences every single day in Gaza, saying, “They are alive, but not living. They are strong, and frail. They are human and they are stretched out beyond human comprehension.”

She told the crowd about her frustration with the use of U.S. taxpayer money being used to destroy her family in Gaza, hearing from them daily “about how hungry they are and hearing about the forced displacement of your family, their children, your people.” She told of her cousin Alma being buried under the rubble of her home, and after 180 days Alma was finally found. “Eight days ago, May 8th was Alma’s 12th birthday,” she related. “Instead of wrapping her birthday presents, Alma’s father wrapped her decaying little body in a shroud. Finally granting her the gift of a decent burial. To be from Gaza is to painfully watch your people holding on to their babies’ lifeless bodies. Kissing them goodbye for the last time. And you don’t know what else is left to say, you don’t know what is left to do to ease their pain and to ease their suffocating suffering.”

Going on to tell of her murdered cousin Akmed, she said that as of today “His family has been forcibly displaced six times since the beginning of the genocide. Each physical displacement is not only an assault to their physical and mental health, but it is also an assault on their identity as Palestinians and their dignity as human beings.”

She called on Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Antony Blinken to tell her where her family, stuck in Gaza, should go to seek safe shelter. Illustrating her point by accusing the U.S. of spending millions of dollars to destroy their homes, obliterate their streets and wipe out any means of escape,” she simply asked: “Where do they go?”

After he fully supported the genocide from day one, she accused Biden of having rebranded himself after seven months with the “humanitarian port.” “Joe Biden, Palestinians do not need a savior, Palestinians need an end to the occupation. We, the American people, have seen you for seven long months support genocide. We will not be silent, nor will there be business as usual as long as you use our tax dollars, as long as you commit crimes against our families, crimes against humanity. We see right through your lies that are not only insulting to our intellect, but also to our humanity. Joe, the world is watching, history is watching.”

Report and photo by Phil Pasquini

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