Nakba Day

Nakba Day

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Nakba Day is generally commemorated on May 15, the day after the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 date for Israeli independence day (Yom Ha'atzmaut
Yom Ha'atzmaut
Yom Ha'atzmaut commemorates Israel's declaration of Independence in 1948. It is celebrated on 5 Iyar according to the Hebrew calendar. Yom Ha'atzmaut is preceded by Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day.-History:...

). For the Palestinians it is an annual day of commemoration of the displacement that followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.

Defining Nakba



During the 1948 Palestine War
1948 Palestine war
The 1948 Palestine war refers to the events in the British Mandate of Palestine between the United Nations vote on the partition plan on November 30, 1947, to the end of the first Arab-Israeli war on July 20, 1949.The war is divided into two phases:...

, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled
1948 Palestinian exodus
The 1948 Palestinian exodus , also known as the Nakba , occurred when approximately 711,000 to 725,000 Palestinian Arabs left, fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Civil War that preceded it. The exact number of refugees is a matter of dispute...

, and hundreds of Palestinian villages were depopulated and destroyed. The vast majority of Palestinian refugees, both those outside the 1949 armistice lines
1949 Armistice Agreements
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...

 at the war's conclusion and those internally displaced
Internally displaced Palestinians
A present absentee is a Palestinian who fled or was expelled from his home in Palestine by Jewish or Israeli forces, before and during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, but who remained within the area that became the state of Israel. Present absentees are also referred to as internally displaced...

, were barred by the newly declared state of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 from returning to their homes or reclaiming their property.

These refugees and their descendants number several million people today, divided between Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 (2 million), Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 (427,057), Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 (477,700), the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 (788,108) and the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 (1.1 million), with at least another quarter of a million internally displaced Palestinians in Israel. The displacement, dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian people is known to them as al-Nakba, meaning "the catastrophe," or "the disaster."

Prior to its adoption by the Palestinian nationalist movement, the "Year of the Catastrophe" among Arabs referred to 1920, when European colonial powers partitioned the Ottoman Empire
Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire
The Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire was a political event that occurred after World War I. The huge conglomeration of territories and peoples formerly ruled by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was divided into several new nations.The partitioning was planned from the early days of the war,...

 into a series of separate states along lines of their own choosing. The term was first used to reference the events of 1948 in the summer of that same year by the Syrian writer Constantine Zureiq in his work Ma'na al-Nakba ("The Meaning of the Nakba"; published in English in 1956).

Initially, use of the term Nakba among Palestinians was not universal. For example, many years after 1948, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 avoided and even actively resisted using the term, because it lent permanency to a situation they viewed as temporary, and they often insisted on being called "returnees." In the 1950s and 1960s, terms they used to describe the events of 1948 were more eupheumistic and included al-ightisab ("the rape"), al-ahdath ("the events"), al-hijra ("the exodus"), and lamma sharna wa tla'na ("when we blackened our faces and left"). Nakba narratives were avoided by the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

 (PLO) in Lebanon in the 1970s, in favor of a narrative of revolution and renewal. Interest in the Nakba by organizations representing refugees in Lebanon surged in the 1990s due to the perception that the refugees' right of return
Right of return
The term right of return refers to a principle of international law, codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, giving any person the right to return to, and re-enter, his or her country of origin...

 might be negotiated away in exchange for Palestinian statehood, and the desire was to send a clear message to the international community that this right was non-negotiable.

Though the Nakba refers to the events of 1948, their continued salience due to the irresolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

 has prompted Palestinians like Mahmoud Darwish
Mahmoud Darwish
Mahmoud Darwish was a Palestinian poet and author who won numerous awards for his literary output and was regarded as the Palestinian national poet...

 to describe the Nakba as, "an extended present that promises to continue in the future."

Timing


Nakba Day is generally commemorated on May 15, the day after the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 date for Israel's Independence.In Hijri calendar
Hijri calendar
The Hijri calendar or Islamic calendar or Muslim calendar can mean:* Lunar Hijri calendar * Solar Hijri calendar...

,it was on 6 Rajab 1367AH.

In Israel, Nakba Day events have been held by some Arab citizens on Yom Ha'atzmaut
Yom Ha'atzmaut
Yom Ha'atzmaut commemorates Israel's declaration of Independence in 1948. It is celebrated on 5 Iyar according to the Hebrew calendar. Yom Ha'atzmaut is preceded by Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day.-History:...

 (Israel's Independence Day), which is celebrated in Israel on the Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

 date (5 Iyar
Iyar
Iyar is the eighth month of the civil year and the second month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. The name is Babylonian in origin. It is a spring month of 29 days. Iyar usually falls in April–June on the Gregorian calendar.In the Hebrew Bible, before the Babylonian Exile, the...

 or shortly before or after). Because of the differences between the Hebrew and the Gregorian calendars, Independence Day and the official May 15 date for Nakba Day usually only coincide every 19 years.

Commemoration



Commemoration of the Nakba by Arab citizens of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel refers to citizens of Israel who are not Jewish, and whose cultural and linguistic heritage or ethnic identity is Arab....

 who are internally displaced persons as a result of the 1948 war has been practiced for decades, but until the early 1990s was relatively weak. Initially, the memory of the catastrophe of 1948 was personal and communal in character and families or members of a given village would use the day to gather at the site of their former villages. Small scale commemorations of the tenth anniversary in the form of silent vigils were held by Arab students at a few schools in Israel in 1958, despite attempts by the Israeli authorities to thwart them. Visits to the sites of former villages became increasingly visible after the events of Land Day
Land Day
Land Day , March 30, is an annual day of commemoration for Palestinians of the events of that date in 1976. In response to the Israeli government's announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land for "security and settlement purposes", a general strike and marches were organized...

 in 1976. In the wake up of the failure of the 1991 Madrid Conference
Madrid Conference of 1991
The Madrid Conference was hosted by the government of Spain and co-sponsored by the USA and the USSR. It convened on October 30, 1991 and lasted for three days. It was an early attempt by the international community to start a peace process through negotiations involving Israel and the Palestinians...

 to broach the subject of refugees, the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced in Israel was founded to organize a March of Return to the site of a different village every year on May 15, so as to place the issue on the Israeli public agenda. By the early 1990s, annual commemorations of the day by Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel held a prominent place in the community's public discourse.

Meron Benvenisti
Meron Benvenisti
Meron Benvenisti is an Israeli political scientist who was Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem under Teddy Kollek from 1971 to 1978, during which he administered East Jerusalem and served as Jerusalem's Chief Planning Officer. He is a medieval scholar and published books and maps on the Crusader period in...

 writes that it was "…Israeli Arabs who taught the residents of the territories to commemorate Nakba Day." Palestinians in the occupied territories
Israeli-occupied territories
The Israeli-occupied territories are the territories which have been designated as occupied territory by the United Nations and other international organizations, governments and others to refer to the territory seized by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria...

 were called upon to commemorate May 15 as day of national mourning by the Palestine Liberation Organization
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

's United National Command of the Uprising during the First Intifada
First Intifada
The First Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem....

 in 1988. The day was inaugurated by Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini , popularly known as Yasser Arafat or by his kunya Abu Ammar , was a Palestinian leader and a Laureate of the Nobel Prize. He was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization , President of the Palestinian National Authority...

 in 1998.

The event is often marked by speeches and rallies by Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

, in Palestinian refugee camps in Arab states
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

, and in other places around the world. Protests at times develop into clashes between Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 2003 and 2004, there were demonstrations in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

.

In 2002, Zochrot
Zochrot
Zochrot is an Israeli-Jewish non-profit organization founded in 2002. Based in Tel Aviv, its aim is to promote awareness of the Palestinian Nakba , the 1948 Palestinian exodus. The group's director is Eitan Bronstein...

 was established to organize events raising the awareness of the Nakba in Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 so as to bring Palestinians and Israelis closer to a true reconciliation. The name is the Hebrew feminine plural form of "remember".
On Nakba Day of 2011
2011 Nakba Day
Nakba Day in 2011 was the annual day of commemoration for the Palestinian people marking the Nakba - the displacement that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948. Generally held on May 15, commemorative events in 2011 began on May 10, in the form of march by Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

, Palestinians and other Arabs from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria marched towards their respective borders and ceasefire line with Israel and the Israeli-occupied
Israeli-occupied territories
The Israeli-occupied territories are the territories which have been designated as occupied territory by the United Nations and other international organizations, governments and others to refer to the territory seized by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria...

 portion of the Golan Heights to mark the event. Several Palestinians and their supporters were killed as a result of shootings by the Israeli Army when the protesters threw stone on the soldiers and crossed the border. According to the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, the 2011 Nakba Day demonstrations were given impetus by the revolutions and uprisings
2010–2011 Middle East and North Africa protests
The Arab Spring , otherwise known as the Arab Awakening, is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on Saturday, 18 December 2010...

 taking place throughout the Arab world
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

. but according to leaked documents it was orchestrated by Assad regime to munipulate western media and distract it from the ongoing protest in Syria.

Objections to commemoration of Nakba Day


Criticism of the observance of Nakba Day in the Israeli media involves claims that it is marked by Palestinians to celebrate their wishes for the dismantling of the Israeli state and the Jewish majority population, and that the greater tragedy resides in the inability to solidify a stronger national movement for Palestinian citizens. Arab citizens of Israel have also been admonished for observing Nakba Day in light of their relatively higher standards of living when compared to that of Palestinians who reside outside of Israel.

Israeli media also reports that displacement and loss of property during the 20th century is not unique to the Palestinians, and that between 1940 and 1964 approximately 700,000 Jews living in Arab states (mostly in Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

) were banished and disinherited from most of their property.

On 23 March 2011, the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 approved, by a vote of 37 in favor to 25 against, a change to the Government budget
Government budget
A government budget is a legal document that is often passed by the legislature, and approved by the chief executive-or president. For example, only certain types of revenue may be imposed and collected...

, giving the Israeli Finance Minister
Ministry of Finance (Israel)
The Israeli Ministry of Finance is a part of the Israeli political system. It is responsible for planning and implementing the Government of Israel’s overall economic policy....

 the discretion to reduce government funding to any non-governmental organization
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

 (NGO) that organizes Nakba commemoration events.

See also

  • Israel Independence Day
  • Land Day
    Land Day
    Land Day , March 30, is an annual day of commemoration for Palestinians of the events of that date in 1976. In response to the Israeli government's announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land for "security and settlement purposes", a general strike and marches were organized...

  • Naksa Day
    Naksa Day
    Naksa Day is the annual day of commemoration for the Palestinian people of the displacement that accompanied Israel's victory in the 1967 Six-Day War...

  • Al-Quds Day
  • Palestinian exodus
  • List of villages depopulated during the Arab-Israeli conflict
  • Palestinian refugee
    Palestinian refugee
    Palestinian refugees or Palestine refugees are the people and their descendants, predominantly Palestinian Arabic-speakers, who fled or were expelled from their homes during and after the 1948 Palestine War, within that part of the British Mandate of Palestine, that after that war became the...

  • Palestinian right of return
    Palestinian right of return
    The Palestinian right of return is a political position or principle asserting that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees and their descendants, have a right to return, and a right to the property they or their forebears left or which they were forced to leave in what is now Israel...


External links