Washington, DC | www.adc.org | May 15th, 2023 – Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, “The Catastrophe.” This day is a solemn reminder of the expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinian people from their ancestral homeland at the hands of Zionist paramilitaries. Over 500 Palestinian Arab villages were destroyed, more than 750,000 Palestinians were rendered refugees, and new Israelis replaced many of them.
Palestinians were systematically stripped of their homes and their land. The new state of Israel expropriated and distributed their property. This is not merely a date on the calendar, but a poignant reminder of the profound struggle and resilience of the Palestinian people. Academics and human rights organizations around the world have rightfully recognized the Nakba as a systemic and planned campaign of ethnic cleansing.
The tragedy of the Nakba is a result of actions taken years prior by the British Empire, which in 1917, through Lord Balfour, offered its blessing and support to the European Zionist movement to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. This endorsement from a preeminent power irrevocably altered the course of history and set the stage for the Catastrophe that followed.
Despite the explicit stipulation of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate that Britain must establish a representative government, the rights of Palestinians were consistently and intentionally ignored. Any attempts at Palestinian self-determination were obstructed by the pro-Zionist sympathies of the British House of Commons. Thus, the state that today proclaims itself the “only democracy in the Middle East” emerged only through the denial of democratic rights to the native Palestinian people.
For too long, the rights of Palestinians have been neglected in favor of Zionism and its Western patrons. Balfour himself stated that Zionism was of far more importance than the “desires and prejudices” of the Arabs inhabiting the land. Such disregard for the rights of Palestinians continues to be echoed in the world’s approach to Israel’s occupation of Palestine. This continues today as Palestinians are living under occupation and apartheid, denied the most basic of human rights. Palestinians continue to be massacred, injured, silenced, and forced to live under the apartheid rule of a foreign occupier, all without an ounce of accountability.
While we commemorate, let us remember that the Nakba did not break the Palestinians. On the contrary, it shaped them into a people of extraordinary resilience, a people of relentless spirit. Despite the broken promises of foreign powers and the continued occupation of their lands, the Palestinian spirit remains unbroken. Let us remember the strength of our shared Arab identity, the spirit of our people, and our unwavering commitment.
The international community, especially the United States, must bring an end to the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. We at ADC reaffirm our unwavering commitment to a free and just Palestine, that includes the right of return of refugees. We will continue to advocate tirelessly for the rights of the Palestinian people to freedom, justice, equality, and self-determination.