You may not know what “Nakba Day” means, but every adult Palestinian in the world does. “Nakba” is the Arabic word for “catastrophe," and every year Nakba Day commemorates the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian people, mostly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.
The geographical area known as Palestine was under the civil administration of Great Britain from 1920, soon after the end of WWI, until 70 years ago. That oversight of the Palestinian territory came to an end on May 14, 1948, and the State of Israel came into existence the next day.
Even though the creation of the modern nation of Israel had the approval of the United Nations and the support of the United States, it was strongly opposed by the Arab neighbors of the Palestinian people, whose land and houses were overtaken by the Jewish citizens of the new country.
Consequently, the First Arab-Israeli War began on that very same day 70 years ago, May 15, and lasted for almost ten months.
More than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes just before and during that war. About the same number of Jews moved into Israel during the first three years following the birth of the new nation.
The tension/animosity/fighting between the Palestinian people and the Jewish citizens of Israel has continued for a full 70 years now.
Without a doubt, Palestinians have instigated much of that violence, and the violent activities of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), founded in 1964 and operating mostly in the West Bank territory, and the similarly violent activities of Hamas, founded in 1987 and operating mostly in Gaza, are widely known.
However, the reason behind that violence has not been adequately acknowledged or elucidated by the U.S. news media.
Last week June and I watched the documentary “The Occupation of the American Mind” (2016), and I highly recommend it. (It is available, here, on YouTube.) That film depicts the U.S. news media’s woeful lack of adequate/fair explanation of the plight of the Palestinian people and of the attacks on their territory (especially Gaza) through the years—in 1967, 1982, 1993, 2008, 2012, and 2014.
The 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza was the last major clash, resulting in about 2,250 Gazans killed and over 10,600 wounded. The number of Israelis killed in that armed struggle was around 1/31 of the number of Palestinians (Gazans) killed.
The struggle continues—and the ratio of Palestinian deaths continues to be highly disproportionate. With no Israeli causalities, at least 60 Gazans have been shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in recent days.
It is hard to know what the future holds for the Palestinians. The move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem just yesterday does not portend well for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian problem.
Yet, there are people of good will, including Palestinian Christians, working for a peaceful solution to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank. One such Christian leader is Naim Stifan Ateek, and I highly recommend his book A Palestinian Theology of Liberation (2017), of which I wrote a review you can read here.
Also, the CPT [Christian Peacemaker Teams] Palestine is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led, nonviolent, grassroots resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it. By collaborating with local Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers and educating people in their home communities, they seek to help create a space for justice and peace.
These are just two examples of people/organizations working in non-violent ways for peace and justice in Palestine/Israel. May their tribe increase!