Remembering al Nakba

Members of the Zionist paramilitary force the Haganah, 1948.

May 14 marked 63 years of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. The Palestinian Arabs know it as al Nakba, which translates as “day of the catastrophe”.

In preparation for Israel’s independence from Britain, the Haganah — a Zionist paramilitary, or, as it would be described by the FBI today, terrorist organisation — set about its two objectives.

On one hand, it defended Jewish settlements in Palestine. On the other, it ensured that the land the United Nations had promised to the Zionists would stay under Jewish control, while it drove Arabs from the land that the UN partition plan had promised to the Palestinian Arabs.

One incident was the Deir Yassin massacre of April 9, 1948, in which more than 100 women, children and men were massacred by Zionist paramilitaries.

For many Palestinian Arabs, this was the beginning of the end of their usual lives.

More information about that period can be found in the book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. The UN reported that by 1949, 940,000 Palestinians Arabs had been displaced.

Today, their descendants live all over the world, but mostly in squalid refugee camps in the West Bank (also under Israeli occupation), Lebanon and Jordan, where they face huge discrimination, as do the descendants of the 150,000 who managed to stay in Israel.

When victims of Nazi ethnic cleansing (including the Holocaust) are able to get German citizenship, when anyone from the former Soviet Union had every chance to return to Russia and get Russian citizenship, it is unfair and completely unacceptable that while any Jew (or spouse or grandchild of a Jew) can become an Israeli citizen, Arabs cannot return to their ancestral land.

Is opposition to this policy anti-Semitism, or, as one Daily Telegraph writer had the chutzpah to write, equivalent to Nazism?

I’ll let you be the judge of that.

For more information on the Palestinian issue, visit

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