Facts About the Nakba and Beyond
By: Mike Enayah/Arab America Ambassador Blogger
Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic; Al Nakba means “The Catastrophe.”
Palestinians’ life is marred with many catastrophes, and in the Palestinian lexicon, they refer to May 15th, 1948 as Al Nakba, the day that “Israel” declared its creation on Palestinian land. Although Al Nakba marks the biggest catastrophe that faced the Palestinians, it was not the first or last catastrophe they would encounter on the journey to get back their rights and their land.
Why Did Europe Help Create a Jewish state?
Imperial Europe wanted to create a colonial outpost in the Middle East to keep the Arabs under a state of continuous threat. It wanted to control the strategic and economic importance of that region. The idea for that outpost started with Napoleon, but only became a plan under British sponsorship in 1917.
Jewish leaders were shopping for a state to be a Jewish safe haven. Many places were proposed by the Jewish leaders anywhere from East Africa, calling it “Uganda scheme”; to Eastern Saudi Arabi, “Al Hasa”; to the Northern Territory in Australia; to Tasmania, but none of which were feasible to the Brits for one reason or another. When parts of Palestine were proposed as a Jewish state, Jewish aspirations and English colonial interests converged. Palestine holds a very strategic location as it splits the Asian Arab countries from the Africa ones, and it is in a central location where it could be a point of repelling any future Arab ambition of self-determination.
The British were planning on occupying Palestine as part of the secret British/French agreement “Sykes-Picot” of 1916. The plan was to carve up the Middle East as part of a ‘Divide and Conquer policy” that resulted in a British mandate on Palestine (1920-1947). In 1917, and before the start of the British Mandate, a letter dated 2 November 1917 was issued from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community. The declaration contained British support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in parts of Palestine. the British essentially promised to give away Palestine (a country that was not theirs) to European Jews who could never have a claim to it. At that time, the Jewish population of Palestine was a small minority of 3% among mostly Arab Muslims and Christians.
Implementing the Plan Through Terror
The British authority destroyed more than 2,000 Palestinian homes, putting thousands of Palestinians in concentration camps and subjecting them to violent interrogations and expulsions. By the end of the revolt in 1939, at least ten percent of the Palestinian male population had been killed, wounded, exiled or imprisoned. This was all happening while allowing Jewish armed gangs to thrive. In 1944, the Jewish gangs turned their terror on to the British, as they wanted to hasten their departure from Palestine. They launched several attacks against the British. One of the most notable attacks was the King David Hotel bombing in 1946 where the British administrative headquarters were housed.
In that attack, 93 people were killed. On November 1947, the British decided to hand over their responsibility for Palestine to the UN as an international body to solve the conflict. At that time, the Jews were 31% of the population, 92% of whom were new Jewish arrivals with no connection to the land or culture. At that time, the Jews only were retaining control of 5% of Palestine. Yet under the UN proposal, the Jews were to be given 55 percent of the land. Both sides rejected the plan. Palestinians were not about to hand over their land and the Jews were not content with stealing 55% of free Palestinian land, as they had a dream of a greater “Israel”.
From March 1947 to March 1948, Jewish leaders and military commanders met regularly to implement a plan of ethnically cleansing Palestine of its Arab population to confiscate their homes and land. The plan was to create terror through committing massacres in dozens of villages while showing superior power through aerially bombing civilians. Some of the most infamous massacres committed took place at: al-Dawayima, Baldat al-Sheik, Safsaf, Kafr-Qasim massacre, and most notably, the Deir Yassin massacre, when about 110 Palestinian men, women, and children were lined up and slaughtered. This campaign of terror resulted in killing 15,000 Palestinians, forcing 750,000 “ (more than half the Palestinian population)” into exile and permanent refugee status, and in addition, erasing more than 500 villages. This cruelty resulted in the much better equipped and trained Jewish forces controlling 78% of Palestine. That same year, Resolution 181 by the UN established the occupation entity “Israel” as a country and the US was the first to recognize it.
Continuous Assault and Expansion
Despite all the laws and mandates by the UN against “Israel,” still Israeli aggression continued
for several decades.
In 1967, with their goal of expansion, parts of Palestine which were under the control of Jordan and Gaza under the control of Egypt got all occupied by the aggressor, Israel. Israel occupied the remainder of Palestine: East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. Again, thousands of Palestinians have lost their homes and became refugees in camps and some escaped the terror and injustice to other countries.
Israel continued to attack the unarmed Palestinian populations while continuing the theft of their homes and land. “Israel” chased the Palestinians into their refugee camps inside and outside Palestine, massacring them with impunity with the West’s consent. The Sabra and Shatila massacre happened on September 16th, 1982, when thousands of unarmed Palestinians men, women, and children were held captive by the “Israeli” army and slaughtered by loyal forces. This led to continuous sniping of hundreds of unarmed Palestinians, including women, children, and journalists protesting for the right of return. We also see the continuing support and facilitation of land theft by the US currently through Trump moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, giving what’s not his to people who are illegally occupying a land that isn’t theirs.
The Palestinians vow that they will continue to struggle and resist the occupation with resilience. They are determined to do so until they regain their human dignity, justice, freedom, and statehood, even at 70 years of Al-Nakba and beyond.