Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Nakba has Never Ended

The Nakba has Never Ended Julia Pitner, The Electronic Intifada, 15 May 2007

With the celebration of Israel's 59th year of independence comes the mourning of the 59th year of what the Palestinians call Al-Nakba -- the disaster. Israel celebrated its Independence this week by "locking down" the Palestinians in their towns and villages through the total closure of all checkpoints encircling major Palestinian population centers. This year, the Palestinians will remember their nearly six decades of dispossession by marking the expulsion of vast majority of the people; splitting up of families; and the creation of hundred's of thousands of refugees, many of whom remain refugees today. They will remember the villages that no longer exist and the family farmlands that are now Israeli cities, shopping malls, forests, farms, and highways, places that Palestinians are not even allowed to visit. But those who remain in Palestine will also remember that they are still here, and they will swear that they will never again be forced to leave their lands and families. But this is a difficult oath to keep, not only because of IDF brutality, but also because of the structural, systematic violence of Israeli bureaucracy.

The sad truth is that while the Palestinians commemorate the Nakba of 1948, the disaster is ongoing up until today. Now, however, the oppression is subtler than the forced marches of the citizens of Ramla, the forced exodus of hundreds of thousands, or those who fled from violence or from the fear and confusion about what the Jewish militias were threatening or the Arab governments promising. It is a slow, forced exodus that is not exciting enough to warrant any airtime or column space. We are witnessing the slow but sure strangulation of Palestinian culture and existence in their homeland through Israeli bureaucratic policies and strategies. Palestinians are a people being squeezed to death, not only by a wall that cuts off farmers from their ancestral lands and splits families in two, but also by a system of paper, permits, proof, and permissions.

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