The 15th of May marks the Palestinian Nakba-catastrophe-, which occurred in May 1948 when Palestine was nearly abolished by the precursors to the IDF brigades: the Haganah, Irgun, and Lehi.
With British backing, espoused in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and via its policies on the ground, Israel was created, and Palestine was simultaneously shattered and destroyed. Almost 750,000 indigenous Palestinians were violently driven out of their villages and towns and forcibly displaced by Jewish settler militias. Today, Israel is in ‘Nakba denial’; it does not acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians because it seeks to justify its own existence. A conglomerate of fanatical elements, the current extreme right-wing Israeli government does not believe in or want peace, be that in the form of a two-state solution or otherwise.
Which begs the question: what now? Israel is using the foreign-policy failures of Europe and the U.S. to impose a solution, to act with utter and terrifying impunity, in dictating a ‘final solution’ of its own making by building more illegal settlements, demolishing more Palestinian homes and killings, conducting night-time raids and arbitrary arrests without due process. It restricts their freedom of movement and revokes the residency permits, thus strangulating the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. All this amounts to a slow but calculated policy devised solely to render Palestinian- Jerusalemites helpless and impoverished.
These new tactics are designed to force and coerce the Palestinians to leave, to break their resistance, and are simply a modern form of ethnic cleansing. According to UN reports and officials, Gaza has been fragmented and will be uninhabitable by 2025. The occupied West Bank is also being fractured by illegal settlements and settler bypass roads. Israel is building more illegal settlements, demolishing more Palestinian homes, and using its brutal and violent occupation to intimidate Palestinian men and children
living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Israel utterly controls the economy, the water, and the movement of the entire Palestinian population. It wants to weaken the Palestinians physically, culturally, and emotionally. It should be emphasized that Palestinians in the refugee camps created by the Nakba of 1948 or in the Occupied Palestinian territory have an unbreakable connection to their land and the memory of Palestine. Despite Israel’s violation of their human rights and repeated violation of international law, Palestinians will continue to resist in every form possible. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 states that Palestinian refugees have the ‘Right of Return’ to their homes and compensation for thousands of acres of the land they lost and their stolen assets, worth billions of dollars.
On the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, we reaffirm our right of return, our rights to our land, and our commitment toward establishing independent statehood.
Israel’s first Prime Minister, Ben Gurion, said of the expelled Palestinians: “The old will die, and the young will forget.” Many refugees from 1948 have died but the young generation of Palestinians and every other new generation will not forget.
From the Nakba until now, the Israeli government’s policy towards the Palestinian people has been a global concern for many years. While some countries and organizations have condemned these policies and taken action to hold Israel accountable, others have been more reluctant, highly passive, or outright dismissive. In one such instance, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected the term ‘apartheid’ used by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas during a press conference in Berlin to describe Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians.
One of the most significant international reactions to the Israeli government’s policies towards the Palestinians has been the growing support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. The BDS movement seeks to use economic pressure to force Israel to end its policies of occupation, settlement building, and discrimination against Palestinians. The movement has gained significant global support from many individuals, organizations, and governments. The United Nations has also been active in addressing the issue of Israeli policies toward Palestinians. It has passed numerous resolutions condemning Israel’s actions, including its settlements and military acts. In addition, the UN has established several bodies and initiatives to support Palestinian rights and provide humanitarian assistance. Some countries have taken simple diplomatic measures, such as recalling their ambassadors from Israel or expressing disapproval of Israeli policies.
Others have imposed economic sanctions or limited their trade relations with Israel. However, some countries have maintained close relationships with Israel, despite its controversial policies toward Palestinians, such as Viktor Orbán’s regrettable recently reported readiness to relocate Hungary’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. This rigid dichotomy of stances has been a bone of contention among those who believe that Israel's policies constitute apartheid and that the international community should take more decisive action to hold Israel accountable.
The world community’s reaction to the apartheid regime in Israel has been mixed. While there is growing global concern about Israel’s policies towards Palestinians, countries and organizations continue to support Israel, despite the controversy surrounding its policies.
The current Israeli policies towards the Palestinians have significantly impacted the mundane lives of Palestinians. These policies include restrictions on movement, land confiscation, settlement building, home demolitions, and military incursions. Furthermore, this ongoing conflict has resulted in the loss of thousands of Palestinian lives and widespread destruction and displacement. Palestinians are subject to daily violence and harassment by Israeli forces and settlers, restricting their access to necessities such as food, water, and healthcare. In addition, it limits their ability to access resources such as water and farmland. It has also led to the additional displacement of Palestinians from their homes and communities, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the region at large.
The Israeli government’s restrictions on movement have also severely impacted the Palestinian economy. The presence of checkpoints and the Separation Wall has limited the Palestinians’ freedom of movement within the occupied territories, Israel and the rest of the world. This hindrance has made it difficult for Palestinians to access markets, jobs, and educational opportunities, exacerbating poverty, unemployment and destitution.
Today, the current Israeli policies toward the Palestinians have profoundly impacted their lives, and such approaches have culminated in the ongoing conflict, displacement, and human rights abuses.
A significant repercussion of the situation is the forced diasporization of the Palestinian people and the destruction of their national identity. Therefore, fundamental political and intellectual forces are necessary for retaining national identity. However, the formation of new social classes, the expansion of modern communications, the spread of education, and the introduction of mass politics have managed to portray a different form of national identity.
Since the Nakba of 1948, Palestinian society has been dominated by the harsh realities of expulsion from the land. The Palestinians were fragmented, dispersed, and rendered dependent mainly on their hosts’ goodwill to remain and provide themselves with the basic necessities of life. However, amid socioeconomic and political alienation, Palestinians have retained a strong sense of selfhood and national ethos. It is important to note that after the Nakba, nationalism re-emerged in refugee camps, schools and universities in a different context.
During the 1950s and early 1960s, Palestinian national identity was concretized in pan-Arab ideology; it was also incorporated into the Arab world and became proactive in local politics dominated by Arab sloganeering of unity, freedom and socialism. Predictably, the dislocation, alienation and frustrations with Arab nationalism bolstered the conceptualization of Palestinian national identity and Palestinian nationalism. Through literature, poetry and cultural heritage, Palestinians contrived to redefine their nationalism in their quest for freedom and independence.
It is worth mentioning that the Palestinian national identity had been shaped by the historical realities encountered in the region, starting from colonialism until the eruption of the two intifadas of 1987 and 2000. Several political ideologies of the past century, such as Islamism, Nasserism, and Arabism, have dramatically impacted the structure and substance of the current national identity of the Palestinians.
Current Israeli Policies and the Ramifications
Seventy-five years after the Nakba, dramatic changes transformed Palestine’s geography and demography, which effectively halted the negotiation process. The major political transformations, infused with racism and bigotry, shaped the Palestinian struggle to the point of a zero-sum conflict.
Today, settlers and the Israeli military forces are at loggerheads with the Palestinians in an effort to reshape the occupation within a different form of structured violence to erase the presence of the Palestinians from their geographic enclaves. This ideology, infused with violence against the Palestinians, portrays a new dimension to this protracted conflict.
The Conflict: Back to Zero-Sum
The inevitability of this historical struggle between Palestinians and the Zionist apartheid regime is a disastrous recipe for peace, security, and stability in the Middle East. Palestinians’ reflection of a dashed hope in the Biden administration is another example of U.S. unequivocal support to Israeli occupation. Indeed, the watch-and-see approach by the U.S. is further exacerbating the continued violence and the extrajudicial killings of innocent Palestinians for the crime of seeking freedom from an inhumane occupation, which is the longest in modern history. The latest chaos and violent developments require a clear stand by the international community to condemn the daily atrocities committed against the Palestinians by the Israeli settlers, supported by the Israeli military forces. Resolutions of condemnation by international organizations are not enough to deter Israeli aggression. However, actionable physical intervention is required to protect the Palestinians during these critical times to end this occupation.
Netanyahu's newly elected Israeli government perpetuates the archetypical regime’s policies that amplified settler aggression in appropriating Palestinian land. Today more than ever, the situation is precarious at best. It is already a known fact that peace, justice, and security can only be achieved by the resolution of this conflict, which is long overdue. Seventy-five years of protracted armed violence have shaped the unsettled Middle East since the latter part of the 19th century, passing through the British Mandate until the present day of Israeli occupation. Nothing has been done to resolve the conflict, the root cause of which led to instability, insecurity, and lack of justice in the Middle East region. Almost three decades since the inception of the Oslo Accords, which brought more calamities and violence against the Palestinians who have been exposed to naked aggression in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza. The enigma of peace in the Middle East lies in the fact that everyone knows the solution, but unfortunately, the Israeli mindset is still in the realm of zero-sum conflict.
Consequently, almost three decades of the futile political process still reign supreme. The international community’s impotence and lack of will and determination to resolve the conflict, let alone their double standards in dealing with it, has added to the situation's complexity, and exacerbated Israeli political jingoism and the ongoing oppression of an entire nation through brutal occupation. The inhumane and unjust treatment of the Palestinians is an indefinite badge of dishonor to the international community while it is sitting idle and watching the daily killings with no political stand to deal with the issue, let alone resolve it. It is ironic how the international community portrays its political vulgarism with its double standards and fake democracy, which is nothing less than undeniable hypocrisy. International laws and rules are clear on paper, but the lack of courage and the audacity of application when it comes to Israel is abhorrent. A state should not be considered above International Law, protected, and supported by various U.S. administrations, be it the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. Palestinians made their historic compromise in 1988, declaring their independence and acquiring the path of political negotiations, peace, and the end of conflict through the recognition of Israel by de facto over 78% of historic Palestine. Unfortunately, the media systematically blames the victims for resisting occupation along their quest for freedom; it is so biased that it has become a partisan to the conflict. The Palestinians, subjected to daily killings, torture and incarceration, are still committed to peace through dialogue and negotiations. However, the new Israeli government (a settler’s government) headed by Netanyahu has no readiness for political accommodation, and instead is coordinating its efforts towards building more settlements and more support to the settlers, in desecrating the Abraham Mosque in Hebron and Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem and, as of late, the Holy Sepulcher Church. Such policies do not reflect any intentions about negotiations or political solutions to the conflict. The latest events exemplify this government’s true nature of acting like a rogue state.
Furthermore, Israel’s regime is exploiting the situation in Ukraine, which has become the top priority for the world’s concern to implement policies of oppression and muscle flexing. Besides moral sympathy from the Arab and Islamic states, nothing has manifested on the ground to stop the ongoing carnage in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel will eventually fail because it acts as a rogue state, using state-sponsored terrorism against the Palestinians to achieve its objective of annexing the West Bank and East Jerusalem to Israel. Many summits and meetings have taken place in Aqaba and Sharm El-Sheikh to assess the explosive events in Jerusalem and the West Bank to no avail.
Israel never upheld the principles of international law nor the resolutions of the United Nations. In reality, it acts above both by pushing the diktat of power politics to achieve its expansionist objectives while simultaneously challenging the status quo of the religious holy sites. The latest incursions and attacks on the worshippers at Al-Aqsa mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, are prime indicators and proof of its aggressive and belligerent attitude. However, despite such policies, the Palestinians steadfastly defend their holy sites and shrines. The military power of Israel will never bring her any tranquility because it is evident by now that there is no military solution to this conflict. It is elementary not to reach this conclusion through the Israeli militaryindustrial complex and the various intelligence services. The prolongation of this protracted conflict will continue destabilizing the Middle East region with clear ramifications on the world political scene. Israeli society, ironically, has shifted to the extreme right, and is unaware that aggression will backfire one day and regret will be too late. The current conflict in Ukraine has dropped the mask of Europe, the U.S., and the Western World in reflecting double standards regarding the issues of Islamophobia, the occupation of Palestine and other regional conflicts. Their legitimacy and credibility as democratic states are being questioned and criticized. National and religious wars in the history of Europe cannot be overlooked; hence, preaching democracy to the Islamic and Arab world, without introspection, is in vain. It is a virtue to admit mistakes and correct them with courage. Palestinians are not the children of a lesser God, for they can brag that the three monotheistic religions emanated from the Holy Land – i.e., Palestine.
This long overdue occupation should end, and with-it security, peace and justice will prevail for all. We hope these virtues will no longer be subject to selective application but instead be offered to those seeking them without prejudice or discrimination.