CurrentMiddle East

Israel Gives a Clear Demonstration of What Palestinians Mean by ‘Ongoing Nakba’

If Israel can get the international community to focus on rockets, then Sheikh Jarrah will be forgotten and left to the brunt of colonisation as attention turns to Gaza.

As Palestinians approach yet another Nakba commemoration, Israel has taken it upon itself to demonstrate the violent politics of ethnic cleansing. The tactics have changed since the infamous Plan Dalet which was implemented to dispossess Palestinians and build Israel upon the ruins of empty Palestinian towns and villages. The Zionist intent, however, remains. 

While world leaders remain embroiled in their usual diplomatic statements, careful not to risk relations with Israel, the world has erupted in indignation over the violence Palestinians are facing as they protest the evictions at Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem. Upping the stakes, Israel also bombed Gaza, killing 26 civilians, among them nine children [as of May 11th, 2021]. 

Forced displacement, which is what Israel wants to achieve in Sheikh Jarrah, is a war crime. The fact that Israel is persisting in war crimes says a lot about the unprecedented level of impunity enjoyed by the settler-colonial state, even as it faces investigations for war crimes at the International Criminal Court. 

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement which, for once, clearly outlines the Judaisation of Jerusalem:

“The immediate source of the current tensions in East Jerusalem are the actions of Israeli settler organizations, whose stated aim is to turn Palestinian neighbourhoods into Jewish neighbourhoods. This demographic engineering has been abetted by the Jerusalem municipality, whose urban master plans have explicitly set a goal of limiting the city’s Palestinian population at 30 percent. Establishing official population targets such as this reinforces entrenched patterns of ethnic domination, which have no place in the modern world.”

Unlike Palestinians, who are deprived of protection by the Palestinian Authority, Israeli settlers have full back up by the Israeli military and the state. The dependence upon the settler population is so fundamental, that it is unthinkable for the current aggression to be condemned by the Israeli government. On the contrary, the global attention on the occupied West Bank has provided the perfect occasion for Israel to attack Gaza once again, upon the pretext of rocket fire without the context of Palestinian retaliation for days of ongoing state and settler violence. 

And indeed, rocket fire has not escaped the attention of the former UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, whose tweets diplomatically calling out Israel’s violations were countered by a warning to the resistance in Gaza to stop firing rockets. Once again, the issue is not rocket fire, but settler-colonial violence unleashed upon the colonised population in another attempt to appropriate further Palestinian territory. 

The ongoing differentiation in the language used when addressing Israel and the Palestinians are contributing to the discriminative dissemination of events, where Israel is asked to refrain from “incitement” to prevent radicalisation on the Palestinian people’s behalf. A simplistic and untrue assessment, but one which serves the international community well in its condemnation of rocket fire – legitimate resistance under international law as a result of Israel’s colonial occupation of Palestine. If Israel can get the international community to focus on rockets, then Sheikh Jarrah will be forgotten and left to the brunt of colonisation as attention turns to Gaza. 

However, the Palestinian people’s reaction over Sheikh Jarrah has not been what Israel expected. Nakba consciousness remains the biggest contender to Zionist colonisation and the foundations from which the generalised statements, or blatant misrepresentation of the current events, should be challenged.

The international community does not own the Palestinian narrative – it is complicit in bringing about the Palestinian Nakba. This year’s commemoration under the shadow of the current Israeli violence in Jerusalem and Gaza is a clear reflection of what Palestinians mean when they speak of an ongoing Nakba.

Israel has never stopped colonising Palestine, and that is the only message which world leaders should be disseminating if their support for Palestine is to amount to a just political stance. 

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