The Nakba Continues: 74 Years and Counting

ICMEP Statement on Nakba Day 2022

ICMEP Condemns the Murder of Shireen Abu Akleh and
Israel's Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinian People

Today, May 15, marks the 74th anniversary of the Nakba (“Catastrophe”), the forced displacement by Israeli forces of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, the destruction of a Palestinian homeland in 1948. It is a day of national mourning in Palestine as well as in the Palestinian diaspora, and one of international solidarity. Yet the Nakba is no mere historical event, no matter how horrific. The Catastrophe has continued for 74 years to this very day as Israel intensifies its stranglehold over all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, “from the river to the sea.” Israel wants nothing less than the utter subjugation of the Palestinian people, and more, their disappearance from the land.

The recent targeted murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli military has rightly garnered the world’s attention. Wearing a helmet as well as bulletproof vest with “PRESS” prominently written on front and back, she was nevertheless shot in the head. She was known and loved throughout Palestine, and well-known by the Israeli military, since she had been covering events there for two decades. Fellow journalists said that they were deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers and that “the army was adamantly shooting to kill.” And if to further demonstrate it can act with impunity, Israeli forces attacked her funeral procession, wounding pallbearers and other mourners (watch it here – The most that the Biden administration and even moderate Democrats could muster was offering condolences and asking for a joint investigation (not wanting to address the annual $3.8 billion the US grants Israel). Only a handful (including Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, Andre Carson, a few more) propose an independent US investigation. 

 As egregious as this murder was in plain sight, this was no exception – Israel is waging a systematic war on journalists who dare question its settler colonial and apartheid regime. Witness the targeted bombing of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera offices in Gaza last year, the more than 50 Palestinian journalists killed by Israeli forces since 2000, and the sniper shootings and attacks on journalists covering the Great March of Return in 2018 as just three examples. Reporters Without Borders already last May said it “condemns Israel’s disproportionate use of force against journalists.” Israel, like every other authoritarian regime, can’t abide truth tellers within their midst who reveal the violent mechanisms with which they enforce their hegemony.

 Still, Israel’s disinformation hasbara (propaganda) campaign sows doubts, obfuscates the facts, speaks of the fog of conflict, “accidental shootings,” “mistakes were made,” painting what’s happening as a “conflict,” a simple difference between "two alternative narratives." The Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, calls Israeli propaganda “a whitewash mechanism.”

 Because Israel is losing support globally, it is doubling down on its attempts to solidify its control over the entire land. And truth itself is under attack. Just four other examples suffice:

  • the recent Israeli court decision to evict 1200-1800 residents of Masafer Yatta, a set of villages in the South Hebron Hills, to make way for an Israeli military encampment;
  • the Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan are still being threatened with destruction to make way for a Jewish “City of David” theme park;
  • the ongoing blockade of Gaza, limited fishing zones off its coast, and the bombing of neighborhoods, schools, and hospitals, and despoliation of its agricultural lands by Israeli airstrikes;
  • the increasingly provocative trespassing on the Haram al-Sharif, the Al Aqsa compound, by Israeli settlers accompanied by Israeli military, and their vandalism of the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.

 Yet there are signs of hope. 

  • Support for Israel among young Jews in the US is dropping precipitously;
  • In the last two years, Israeli human rights groups, Yesh Din and B’Tselem have called Israel “an apartheid state,” joined by Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch, the United Church of Christ, and many others;
  • Support for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel is growing – a number of US mainline Christian denominations, the Middle East Studies Association, the Harvard Crimson, labor unions, foreign governments, and more. And pressure is growing on companies to stop doing business in Israel, especially in settlements;+ And members of the US Congress are beginning to wake up to how Israel’s actions violate international law, led by Reps. Betty McCollum, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Indiana’s own Andre Carson, who ICMEP hosted last year, and others.

Indiana Center for Middle East Peace condemns in the strongest terms the continuing targeting of journalists, and the ongoing attempts by the Israeli government to erase the Palestinian people. We applaud those journalists who take great risks to tell the truth about Israel’s apartheid and ethnic cleansing. And we urge all people of good will to seek out ways to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

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