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Palestinians' right to memory should prevail over Israeli "independence" celebrations

A brief article on Forbes emphasising Israel’s significant increase in tourism has been linked to the forthcoming 65th anniversary of “the birth of the nation”. For Palestinians, the commemoration of the Nakba (Catastrophe) will mark their 65th year under colonial occupation, a period wallowing in bloodshed and apartheid.

While celebrations of Israeli “independence” are expected, highlighted and praised by world leaders, observing Nakba Day to remember destruction and displacement is frowned upon. In 2011, the Israeli finance minister was given the discretion to limit funding to any organisation planning Nakba commemoration events.


President Obama hailed Israel’s so-called independence, invoking memories of his recent trip to Israel and the honour of paying tribute to Theodor Herzl. By re-quoting Herzl’s “If you will it, it is no dream”, Obama’s disassociation from Palestinian history only serves to glorify Zionism and Israel’s illegally acquired independence at the expense of an already existing nation plundered by imperial interests. The pro-Zionist rhetoric remains detached from the history of “the other”, describing the occupation as a “conflict” and obliterating the very existence of Palestinians, let alone a proper acknowledgement of Palestine as a nation prior to Zionist implementation of nationhood in Jewish consciousness. Contrary to what has been expressed, there is nothing idyllic or inspirational about a nation whose only grip on nationhood is the colonial and apartheid strategy steeped in Zionist terrorism and ethnic cleansing.

Zochrot, a Jewish activist NGO, has stated, “The Jewish people in Israel, or at least most of them, live in complete ignorance or even denial of the Palestinian disaster that took place in 1948, the Nakba. The Nakba has no place in the language, the landscape, the environment, and the memory of the Jewish collective in Israel.”

Reversing the narratives, it is the Nakba which should take precedence in historical memory. The Palestinian experience of expulsion, massacres and various forms of violence, which have constituted an ongoing violation through all these decades in the name of the fictitious Jewish homeland, should take precedence over declarations of support and UN resolutions which established decades of colonial occupation while displaying an inability to restrain the violations unleashed upon Palestinians. Diplomacy has instigated a continuous massacre which has been reinvented into “conflict” to assuage any remnants of conscience pertaining to the guardians of human rights, who have made a mockery out of the universality of such rights by restricting resistance within the conjured-up confines of “security issues”.

Israel has been allowed to construct memory as a selective process, seeking to abolish the memory of the oppressed population by manipulating the metaphors of survival and rights. Jewish “independence” exists in a vacuum constructed by the occupation within the confines of its strategic political allegiances. The expectation to celebrate any milestone pertaining to a state which harbours hatred and racism as part of its strategy for survival diminishes any justification by the oppressors speaking about safeguarding citizens from “terror”. It is worth questioning how leaders of the international community have allowed the degeneration of human rights by applauding the fulfilment of a terror strategy against indigenous Palestinians while lauding it as testimony to Israeli perseverance in achieving statehood.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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