I did not witness the beginning of the Nakba in 1948, but I am still experiencing it.
I am still a refugee who was born to a refugee father and raised in the besieged Gaza. I have always lived the curse of being a refugee in one of the most densely-populated areas on the surface of the Earth. I have never accepted the reality that two million Palestinians, including myself, are locked down in the world’s biggest open-air prison where two thirds of its residents are refugees, 80% of the total population rely on international aid, and 95% of drinking water is undrinkable for human beings. Due to repeated power blackouts that sometime amount to 20 hours per day, large power-dependent sectors of our life either malfunction or are suspended until further notice. This is in addition to the untreated wastewater fouling Gaza’s beach, the only place Gazans have to go when they want to get a respite.
As we commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba during the time of COVID-19, Palestinians are still dreaming of the day we can celebrate the end of the Israeli Apartheid regime, occupation, and settler-colonialism. And while Israel is celebrating its independence, Palestinians are still mourning over our murdered sons and daughters, imprisoned relatives, flattened homes, destroyed villages and cities, and our usurped beloved lands. Despite all the pain and losses Palestinians have been experiencing there seems to be no indication for a salvation in the near future. In fact, the situation is deteriorating as Israel is resolved to annex large parts of the West Bank this coming July, including settlements which are deemed illegal under international law.
In the so-called “Deal of The Century”, the sole superpower in the world, the United States, has reaffirmed its commitment to give almost all of Palestine to Israel except for some amputated Bantustans to accommodate what is left of the already stricken indigenous population of Palestine. This proposed map looks even worse than those of South Africa under Apartheid.
The unraveling of the political side of the Deal was preceded by its economic façade in the Bahrain Conference in June 2019 when Jared Kushner offered his “generous” deal to solve the Palestinian struggle. In this Conference, held under the bright title of “Peace to Prosperity Workshop,” Kushner reduced the Palestinian cause to a humanitarian issue, and ignored our struggle against Israel’s multi-tiered system of oppression of occupation, settler-colonialism and Apartheid. He announced the solution would be to give away 50 billion dollars to build an infrastructure for the Palestinians — as if Israel was not the one who destroyed the Palestinian infrastructure in the first place. The American proposal aimed to liquidate the refugee cause, and completely ignored the international law and United Nations Resolutions, e.g. 194, that entitle refugees to return to our stolen homelands, and be compensated for the suffering we have endured since the Palestinian Nakba began in 1948.
We, Palestinians, have been envisaged as “savages” and “reactionaries” who cannot rule ourselves and need an imperial and capitalist savior to bring “peace” and “prosperity” to us. To say the least, I am sick of being dehumanized and degraded all the time. We are being victimized and commoditized. Not all the money in the world can make up to us for being uprooted and ethnically cleansed from our hometowns and cities, or for being massacred, raped, or imprisoned in Israeli jails because we chose to stand and fight rather than being held under a medieval siege.
For me, the Deal of the Century is an extension to the imperial project to rule the Middle East; just another Balfour Declaration which was meant to build a human barrier between Asia and Africa to protect the capitalists’ and imperialists’ interests.
Yesterday it was Britain who steered the wheel. Today it is the United States. The Zionist state began under the British “Mandate” on Palestine when the British paved the way to bring waves of Jewish settlers and give them land. And when Palestinians protested and uprisings erupted, Britain brought commissions into Palestine to study the situation and propose a new partition plan. Britain too thought that it was impossible to reach an understanding with the Arabs of Palestine. This is how Israel was established and declared its independence, on the ruins of Palestinian towns and villages and at the expense of Palestinian blood.
It was not enough for the U.S. when it moved its embassy to Jerusalem on May 14th, 2018. It was not enough either to announce the entire city of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, nor was it enough to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights. Now the West Bank is being annexed to the State of Israel and Palestinians are looked at as unwanted that need to be caged in separated enclaves and Bantustans.
Unless the world renounces the law of the jungle, and imposes sanctions on Israel, Israel will continue in its brutality in disregard to the international and humanitarian laws. And unless freedom, justice, and equality are realized, no peace will be achieved. I, myself, chose to endorse the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign to bring pressure on Israel and isolate it until it ends its war crimes and crimes against humanity. Will you join me?