Five Things to Read on the 70th Anniversary of Nakba

[Content Note: Displacement; death; injury; images of violence.]

1. Manuel Hassassian at the Guardian: Today Is Nakba Day — I Hope I Never See Another Like This One.
Today is Nakba day. Nakba is an Arabic word that can be translated as "catastrophe." It is used by Palestinians to describe the events of 1948 that led to their ethnic cleansing. This year will mark the 70th anniversary of the forced displacement of the Palestinians caused by the violent creation of Israel, when 750,000 Palestinians became refugees virtually overnight. Their descendants number 7 million today. They owned 93% of the land in 1948 and lost 78% of it, over 4m acres. About 400 villages were destroyed.

Today is also the day after the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem, and the day after Israeli troops fired live bullets on unarmed demonstrators, slaughtering more than 50 people at the Gaza border. The surreal celebratory spectacle in Jerusalem — with the messianic evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress blessing proceedings that had been boycotted by local Christian and Muslim leaders — was an alternative universe to the scenes at the Gaza border, where Palestinians were declaring that they exist as a people and have a right to return to their land as enshrined in UN resolutions. They spoke, as all subalterns do, with their bodies and their blood. This is what Donald Trump's "deal of the century" has come to.
2. Kate Bubacz at BuzzFeed: These Photos Show the Stark Divide Between Shooting Deaths in Gaza and the Celebrations in Jerusalem. "The shootings took place about 60 miles from the embassy dedication, which was filled with pomp and circumstance, a video address from Trump, and calls for peace. It was a stark juxtaposition."

3. Alastair Jamieson at NBC News: Gaza Protests Replaced by Funerals as Palestinians Mark Nakba. "The death toll rose to 60 overnight, including eight-month-old Laila al-Ghandour, who inhaled tear gas at a tented protest encampment. Monday's violence also left 2,771 Palestinians wounded, including more than 300 women and children. ...A total of 109 people have been killed and around 12,300 others wounded since the protests began on March 30, according to Gaza's Health Ministry. On Monday, Israeli troops opened fire on protesters approaching the fence. ...Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, [Doctors Without Borders]'s representative in the Palestinian territories, said: "It is unbearable to witness such a massive number of unarmed people being shot in such a short time."

4. Ahmed Abu Ratima at the New York Times: I Helped Start the Gaza Protests. I Don't Regret It. "What has happened since we started the Great Return March is both what I hoped and expected — and not. It was not a surprise that Israel responded to our march with deadly violence. But I had not expected this level of cruelty. ...We are not going back to our subhuman existence. We will keep knocking at the doors of international organizations and our Israeli jailers until we see concrete steps to end the blockade of Gaza."

5. Michelle Goldberg at the New York Times: A Grotesque Spectacle in Jerusalem.
The juxtaposition of images of dead and wounded Palestinians and Ivanka Trump smiling in Jerusalem like a Zionist Marie Antoinette tell us a lot about America's relationship to Israel right now. It has never been closer, but within that closeness there are seeds of potential estrangement.

Defenders of Israel's actions in Gaza will argue no country would allow a mob to charge its border. They will say that even if Hamas didn't call the protests, it has thrown its support behind them. "The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas," a White House spokesman, Raj Shah, said on Monday.

But even if you completely dismiss the Palestinian right of return — which I find harder to do now that Israel's leadership has all but abandoned the possibility of a Palestinian state — it hardly excuses the Israeli military's disproportionate violence. "What we're seeing is that Israel has used, yet again, excessive and lethal force against protesters who do not pose an imminent threat," Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, told me by phone from Jerusalem.

Much of the world condemned the killings in Gaza. Yet the United States, Israel's most important patron, has given it a free hand to do with the Palestinians what it will. Indeed, by moving the embassy to Jerusalem in the first place, Trump sent the implicit message that the American government has given up any pretense of neutrality.

...Trump has empowered what's worst in Israel, and as long as he is president, it may be that Israel can kill Palestinians, demolish their homes and appropriate their land with impunity. But some day, Trump will be gone. With hope for a two-state solution nearly dead, current trends suggest that a Jewish minority will come to rule over a largely disenfranchised Muslim majority in all the land under Israel's control. A rising generation of Americans may see an apartheid state with a Trump Square in its capital and wonder why it's supposed to be our friend.
Or why we're supposed to be theirs.

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