The Nakba Is Ongoing, It Didn’t End In 1948
For us to simply classify the Nakba as a single historical event, would be an incorrect framing, as the collection of atrocities visited on the Palestinian people by the Zionist regime represents an ongoing attempt to solidify the dominance of "Israel’s" settler-colonial project.
By now most people familiar with the Palestinian cause know well of the horrific ethnic cleansing campaign that took place between 1947-9, during the creation of the regime that calls itself “Israel”. Little however, know much about the ethnic cleansing ongoing today, or perhaps their knowledge is limited to isolated cases.
The Nakba, or ethnic cleansing of Palestine, is often defined as a historical event in which over half of Palestine’s villages, towns, and cities were destroyed, and 450 towns and villages depopulated of their Palestinian inhabitants, amounting to the forced ethnic displacement of around 800,000 people. The word Nakba means “catastrophe”, which is what is used to refer to that time, but when we speak of al-Nakba in English, what we are doing is using a term with which we refer to a historical event often meaning the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Recently, Palestinian-American congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, introduced a House Resolution which would see the United States government recognise the Palestinian Nakba. “This Sunday [Nakba Day] was a day of solemn remembrance of all the lives lost, families displaced, and neighborhoods destroyed during the violence and horror of the Nakba. The scars bourn by the close to 800,000 Palestinians who were forced from their family homes and their communities, and those killed are burned into the souls of the people who lived through the Nakba,” said Tlaib. Although this would certainly be a major achievement to gain such recognition of Palestinian suffering, in essence meaning that the US government would be admitting the historic crime that the Zionist terrorist forces committed prior to declaring themselves a State, it is important that we not disconnect the past from the present.
The goal of today's Israeli regime is very much the same as it was back in 1947, to occupy as much land as possible, with as few Palestinians on it as possible. In order to achieve such a goal, the settler-colonial project has taken different forms and used various tactics over the past 74 years, yet that same goal remains intact.
The 1950’s saw large-scale incursions into the Gaza Strip and the further displacement of more refugees during this process, whilst those Palestinians who remained inside what would become "Israel", were kept under military rule. Often known as the 1948 Palestinians, who today have Israeli citizenships, this portion of the Palestinian population consists of many who were considered to be “present absentees” by the Israeli regime, which translates to; the people who fled their villages and remained in what became "Israel" but were refused their right to return to their original villages. Israel quickly made use of laws implemented by the British occupation regime in Palestine, like ‘Article 125 of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations’, which Israel used as a legal basis for making Palestinian villages “closed military zones”, hence preventing the displaced natives from returning to their houses. Israel also implemented the 1950 Absentee Property Law, which is broad in its definitive language and would be used to declare displaced Palestinians as “absentees” in order to steal their homes. Between 1948 and 1950, it is also believed that Israel ethnically cleansed a further 40,000 Bedouin Palestinians, whilst also destroying more Palestinian villages along the Lebanese border and expelling thousands more Palestinians until 1956.
In 1967, during what was called the ‘Naksa’ (setback), again the tactics slightly changed, Israel had decided to illegally occupy all of historic Palestine and even beyond, expelling 300,000 Palestinians from their homes in the process. In 1969, roughly 100,000 more were forced to flee villages around the Jordan Valley area after successive Israeli air raids and military assaults against both Palestinian and Jordanian villages.
Without summing up all of the cases of ethnic cleansing throughout the 74 years of the Zionist regimes settler colonialist expansion, it suffices to say this, the very same tactics and laws are being used by "Israel" today to do the exact same thing they did in the past.
In the Naqab, where the majority of Palestinian Bedouins live today, Israel is attempting to ghettoize the people there. This means forcing them into a small number of so-called “recognised villages” and ethnically cleansing some 40 unrecognized villages, this is a throwback to the suffering of the people of the Naqab during and after 1948, when Zionist forces rounded up the remaining 11,000 Bedouin’s - of a community that were 100,000 prior to 1948 - and forced them to live in an area called al-Siyaj, where they were under strict martial law rule until 1965. Israel is today using the Jewish National Fund to work on “agricultural projects”, similar to what occurred in 1948, in order to usurp the lands of Bedouins.
In the West Bank, the largest portion of "Area C", is considered to be where “closed military zones” are, meaning that Palestinians are forbidden from entering these areas. In Area C (60% of the West Bank) it is also near impossible for Palestinians to get a building permit to construct a new home. The plan to ethnically cleanse the 1,000 Palestinian residents of the village of Masafer Yatta is just the latest in a long line of plans to expel Palestinians from their villages in the West Bank. Nevertheless, Israeli illegal settlers are granted a near carte blanche to establish outposts and settlements wherever they please, despite the fact that even by Israeli law many of these outposts are illegal. Israel is also using the “Absentees Property Law” to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their homes in East al-Quds today, as we see in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, in addition to areas in Haifa and Jaffa.
I had the pleasure of working on producing a short documentary with Redfish, called ‘The Palestinian Nakba: In Memory and the Present’, in which we interviewed survivors of the 1948 Nakba, as well as Palestinians from the younger generations who are surviving it today. Unfortunately, this short documentary report has been censored in all corners of the internet. Due to Redfish - like many other platforms that report information from an alternative and critical perspective - having been booted off of Youtube and other social media platforms, the voices and stories of Palestinians are by proxy being silenced. It is this sort of content that attempts to portray the true story of the Nakba from a Palestinian perspective, yet the public are being robbed off this knowledge.
For us to simply classify the Nakba as a single historical event, would be an incorrect framing, as the collection of atrocities visited on the Palestinian people by the Zionist regime represents an ongoing attempt to solidify the dominance of "Israel’s" settler-colonial project. To say that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was simply taking place around the time of 1948 would be, in a way, bowing to the Zionist concept that their “State” model won and that the Palestinians have already been defeated. The Palestinian resistance is most certainly not defeated, this is an ongoing struggle and an ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign, which fits into "Israel’s" settler-colonial ambitions. Naming one single event as The Nakba is correct, but when isolating the concept of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine to atrocities visited on Palestinians singularly during 1948, we begin to paint a different picture of what the true picture is.
Many of the same legal concepts, language, arguments, and tactics that were used to ethnically cleanse Palestine in 1947 are today being used to do the same thing and the examples of this are clear for all to see. This is an ongoing battle, one of a people - the Palestinians - who are fighting to expel an invading and occupying usurper entity - the Zionist regime. If "Israel" had already completed its project, it would have declared its borders, it has never done this and is still in the process of carving itself a State out of the Levant, therefore everything "Israel" is doing today is part of its expansionist mission and for it to stand as a ethno-supremacist “State” it must cement itself on all the land it illegally occupies. Israel has not achieved its goals and the Palestinians are not defeated, therefore the ethnic cleansing of Palestine only ends when one side wins.