In 1948 some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled; hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages were ethnically cleansed and destroyed. The refugees and their descendants are today divided between Jordan (2 million), Lebanon (427,057), Syria (477,700), the West Bank (788,108) and the Gaza Strip (1.1 million). At least another quarter million are internally displaced in Israel. An-Nakba – “catastrophe” or “disaster” – is marked on or close to May 15.
Nakba Day has been marked across the world. I went to a rally outside Sheffield Town Hall. Attendance peaked at a hundred I’d guess. At a tactical level the left is crap at communicating: I only found out two days before. At a strategic level the Zionist Lobby – unlike antisemitism! – is strong in the British Labour Movement, so no TU turn out. (Zionism sees academia as a key battleground too, hence its speed in labelling academic boycotts ‘antisemitic’.) And at a more fundamental level two narratives, both compelling, vie for the sympathy of a public not given to sifting complexity. That of course favours those who control the story-telling. It’s not just that Israel, backed by the USA, outguns the Palestinians in propaganda as in arms: that was the case with apartheid South Africa too. It’s also that there’s a widespread if poorly informed sense of the justice, post Holocaust, of a “Jewish State” and that, I think, leaves people morally confused in a way we wouldn’t be were this scale of ethnic cleansing, repression and serial violation of international law to take place in any other context.
The two b/w slides excepted, these pictures were taken today in Sheffield.