NO TIME TO CELEBRATE: Jews Remember the Nakba
Statement and Pledge of Action
This May, Israel will mark 60 years of statehood. In cities across the U.S. and Canada, major Jewish organizations will sponsor celebrations of “Israeli Independence Day.” Meanwhile, Palestinians around the world will mourn 60 years since the Nakba – Arabic for “catastrophe” – of 1948. Sixty years ago, Zionist militias destroyed over 500 Palestinian villages and made more than 800,000 Palestinian people refugees in order to create a Jewish state in a land where the majority was not Jewish. This does not deserve to be celebrated.
Today the Palestinian Nakba continues. In order to maintain Israel’s artificial Jewish majority, the Israeli government has continued campaigns of ongoing displacement, violence, and occupation. Inside of the 1948 borders of Israel, Palestinian citizens are denied equal rights to Jews under the law. Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem are denied access to land, water, healthcare, and other basic resources. Palestinians throughout historic Palestine experience international isolation, economic devastation aided by the erection of a 730-kilometer wall, and continued closures and invasions including the current horrific siege of Gaza. Today there are more than 6 million Palestinian refugees around the world, all of whom are denied their internationally recognized Right of Return to their homes and land. Meanwhile, we are invited to live on that same land simply because we are Jewish. We renounce this “right” to “return” given to us by Israeli law.
In addition to 60 years of occupation and dispossession, this anniversary marks decades of creative and powerful Palestinian resistance to Israel’s violence. With this statement, we support this struggle, which is so often ignored or vilified in the U.S. media.
As Jews committed to justice, we imagine an “independence” that does not depend on an ethnically or religiously exclusive state or on the displacement of indigenous people. As North American Jews, we refuse to celebrate the ongoing colonization and dispossession of Palestinian lives and communities funded by U.S. foreign aid. There has never been Jewish consensus around Israel: not in 1897, not in 1948, and not today. We reject the notion that we have been chosen to displace others. We support Palestinian people’s right to return, individually and collectively, to the homes they lost in 1948 and in the violent decades since then.
In response to these historical events and a call from Palestine to mark their significance, we refuse to celebrate “Israel 60.” We will take action to make our shared position clear and visible. In cities across the U.S. and Canada this year, we pledge to participate in and to support:
– Refusal to participate in Israeli Independence Day activities;
– Peaceful disruption of these events;
– Nakba commemoration events and actions organized by Palestinians and the Palestine solidarity movement;
– Incorporation of Nakba remembrance into our Passover seders;
– The movement for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions of Israel;
– Other efforts to challenge the perceived Zionist consensus among American Jews through education of Jewish and broader communities about the Nakba, about the colonial nature of Zionism, and about the history of Jewish dissent and Palestinian resistance.
As North American Jews, we stand together with Palestinians in mourning 60 years of al-Nakba and in honoring 60 years of vibrant resistance.