Words from Palestine

An update from Bethlehem by Mazin Qumsiyeh

61 years ago today, the state of Israel unilaterally declared its independence after its ground forces have already been engaged in nearly 6 months of ethnic cleansing of the native population. The ethnic cleansing continued after the founding of the state (for a total of 530 villages and towns completely erased). We Palestinians refer to this as the Nakba (the Catastrophe of ethnic cleansing that preceded, accompanied and followed the founding of the Jewish state by force on Palestinian soil). After the last cease fire of 1949, Israel continued demolishing homes and destroying villages and towns. This received a spike after 1967 and the occupation of the remainder of Palestine. We are seeing today more of this process everywhere from the Galilee to Jerusalem to Bethlehem (where the foreign born “foreign minister of Israel” lives on Palestinian land) to the Negev where over 30 “unrecognized” villages are being targeted.

Nakba commemorations in Palestine this year were a bit more subdued because of the political schisms created in Palestinian society (thanks to Oslo accords). But they were traditionally filled with memories of refugees and with hopes and energy and aspiration of refugee children. Even the demonstrations against the wall today carried large keys symbolizing the right to return (e.g. in Bil’in).

And we must intensify the boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. They are growing. I was happy to see that even Israeli organizations have called for Norwegian divestment from Israeli companies and corporations. In an unprecedented way, a wide array of Israeli civil society and grassroots organizations has sent a letter to the Norwegian Pension Fund, addressed to its Council on Ethics, urging it to support their efforts for a just peace and equality in Israel/Palestine by divesting from all companies involved in the Israeli occupation. These Israeli organizations include feminist organizations and community centers, peace and human rights organizations, organizations concerned with civil rights and equality within the state of Israel and organizations dedicated to ending the occupation of Palestinian territories, to the benefit of all people living in Israel/ Palestine. More here:


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