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61 Years since the Nakba…

May 13, 2009

As Israel celebrates “61 Years of Independence”, Palestinians remember the anniversary of the Nakba (catastrophe) and the beginning of a long period of oppression and occupation. 

 All over Israel, the number of Israeli flags doubled or even tripled in an effort to show nationalistic pride.  Posters for their Independence Day contained pictures of Jewish families, happy and smiling.

 In the West Bank, however, the mood of this “holiday” was quite different. 

 Posters with the number 61 can still be found, but the pictures and message are the opposite of those in Israel.  Instead of happy and smiling people, there were pictures of Palestinians old enough to have lived through the Nakba, and they are seen crying or with their faces in their hands. 

 They say history is written by the victor; this must be the reason that the dispossession of millions of Palestinians, the massacres and ethnic cleansing of the early years of “Israel’s Independence” be remembered by Israelis and, thanks to the media—most of the western world, as happy moment.

 In Israel, families celebrate the anniversary of their independence in the same way Americans celebrate the 4th of July—with picnics, barbeques, and fireworks.

 In Palestine, there are no celebrations.  Just lost memories of Jaffa, Haifa, and many other places where the Arab population was driven out. 

 And if the past wasn’t heartbreaking enough, this Israeli Independence Day is another painful reminder that the Palestinians have no such independence. 

 Instead, they have an Israeli occupation.  The price the Palestinian people had to pay, and are still paying, for Israel to have their independence is too high. 

 For 61 years, the Palestinian people have had to deal with a life most westerners cannot even imagine. 

 Being driven out of their homes, villages, and cities.  Millions of Palestinians having to leave their land completely in the Diaspora.  The continuing theft of their land because of the separation wall and the illegal Israeli settlements that are still expanding in the West Bank. 

 Arbitrary beatings, arrests, and torture by Israeli soldiers.  Targeted killings, or murders, by the Israeli military leading to walls being filled with posters of martyrs—some of them teenagers or younger.  Hundreds of checkpoints and road barriers making travel inside the West Bank humiliating and long.  And so much more…

 As Israelis celebrate 61 years of Independence, created from the pain and suffering of the Palestinian people, the world needs to recognize that the Palestinians deserve to have the same independence that most of the world takes for granted.  They deserve freedom and security—and the chance to rebuild their lives and community in an independent state.

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