Israel’s 60th Birthday

Philadelphia: 60 days of Action for the 60th Anniversary of Al-Nakba by Dave
March 21, 2008, 10:21 am
Filed under: Ethnic Cleansing, Israel, Israel's 60th Anniversary, USA | Tags: ,

I discovered this group through a rather biased article in the Philadelphia Daily News. The paper described in detail the suffering of Israeli civilians during the July War in 2006. Why only the Israel suffering? It was horrific – but a response to the Israeli bombing of civilian areas in Lebanon. With all of Lebanon destroyed the significant part of the story is missing e.g. Hezbollah fired about 4,000 rockets at Israel while 2 – 3 million cluster bombs alone were fired on Lebanon and apparently 7,000 rockets (that “hit a target” – probably 300 Hezbollah rockets hit a target at most). For more statistics see here.

I’m really impressed by this Nakba groups activities and will follow their blog to report more.

Philly Remembers Al-Nakba

This spring marks the 60th anniversary of Al-Nakba, Arabic for “the catastrophe,” the little known side of Israel’s creation that drove over 700,000 Palestinians into exile, massacred civilians, and razed hundreds of Palestinian villages. In Philadelphia, a coalition of Palestinian support groups and peace organizations is responding to the call made at last year’s US Social Forum for 60 days of action to coincide with and counter “Israel 60” celebrations.Philly’s Palestine solidarity movement insists Al-Nakba not be forgotten with a series of events nearly every day from March 17th to May 18th. Our intention is to raise awareness of the past 60 years from the Palestinians’ perspective, and to mobilize people against the occupation. Billions of our tax dollars each year go to the Israeli military, funding the destruction of lives, homes, agriculture, and infrastructure. At the same time, people in the U.S. — including Philadelphians — face crises around health-care, housing and education. The Al-Nakba Coalition believes that federal taxes need to come home to support our communities instead of a militarized foreign policy in Palestine, Iraq and around the world.

Some events to look forward to are a kick-off event on March 17th, 11am-1pm on the west side of City Hall where we’ll be publicly broadcasting the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) Winter Soldier testimony happening that week in Washington DC; a Palestine Film Festival from March 22nd-29th; the March 31st-April 6th Students for Justice in Palestine campus awareness weeks at UPenn, Temple, and Bryn Mawr College; an April 7 talk titled “Women in Resistance” by a Jewish-American woman and a Palestinian woman from Hebron working together against the occupation; a mjeddera dinner (traditional dish eaten by poor Palestinians) on April 18th; a talk by a Palestinian trade unionist on April 21st; an April 30th talk St. Joseph’s Professor Bassam Haddad on Syria and Lebanon; the May 3rd premier of Philadelphia filmmaker Adam Beach’s film “Handala”; the theater piece “Café Intifada” on May 6th and 7th; an occupation themed puppet show; weekly Friday noon vigils by “Bubbies and Zadyes for Peace” at Philadelphia’s Israeli consulate; street theater simulating the checkpoints in the occupied territories, and various decentralized actions throughout Philadelphia from now until May 18th.


3 Comments so far
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thats interesting… I like that idea. What are some things that they are doing?


Comment by palestinianvoice

They have a lot of things from movie nights to activist events – try clicking on their link about or looking in the ‘birthday plans’ section.
D 🙂

Comment by Dave

We’d like to contact you with further information about the 60 Days Commemoration in Philadelphia. Thank you for your coverage of it so far.

To begin with, this is an open letter we have sent to the Mayor Michael Nutter’s office. We would appreciate wide circulation of the letter. It reads:

“Dear Mayor Nutter:

On May 18th, as your float drove by during the Israel at 60 parade, we, SUSTAIN, released one thousand black balloons for another, more somber anniversary: sixty years of Palestinian dispossession. At the other end of the parade, an allied Jewish group, called No Time to Celebrate, mourned with us in remembrance of what Palestinians call al Nakba.

It is understandable, and human, that many people see the sixtieth anniversary of Israel’s founding as cause for celebration. For many Jews, Israeli independence feels like a redemption from millennia of anti-Semitic persecution. For Palestinians, however, 1948 marks the Nakba–the Catastrophe. It should be clear why. Over 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes during what Israelis call the War of Independence. Israel agreed at the time to UN Resolution 194, which recognized the right of all refugees to choose to return to their homes or to receive compensation for their losses. This resolution has been renewed by the United Nations General Assembly every year since, yet after sixty years, 700,000 Palestinians have had to raise children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in refugee camps. There are now almost five million refugees, the majority of which have never seen their homes.

In 1967, the conflict intensified, as Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the Six Day War. Israel’s government has refused to act on United Nations Resolution 242, which calls for Israel to vacate the occupied territories. Instead, it has moved hundreds of thousands of its citizens into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter. Under the policy of “disengagement”, the Kadima party has removed the Gaza settlements, but many of the settlers have simply been moved to the West Bank. Gazans still live under military rule. Israel has further violated international law by ignoring the 14-to-1 decision by the International Court of Justice that the fences and walls being built through the West Bank to annex territory are illegal (the decision was remarkable not only for its near unanimity, but also for the fact that the separate declaration made by the American justice stated that it agreed with most of the findings of the majority). During these past four decades, the United States government and many U.S. corporations have been actively involved in supporting the occupation–against the will of both the majority of Israelis, and the vast majority of Palestinians. Our tax dollars–which should be fixing the broken school system, insuring the uninsured against illness, and refurbishing public transit–are continuing the bloodshed in the Middle East. Each year, we spend about as much money funding Israel’s military as Philadelphia does on its entire public school system.

We call on you to take strong action to make public the city government’s investments in this occupation, and to be accountable to Israelis and Palestinians working for a just peace. Philadelphia’s tax dollars should not support the militarization of this conflict, especially in light of the financial crisis our public schools face, the large number of Philadelphians who lack basic health insurance, and the need for increased aid to SEPTA. the city government has an obligation to divest from the conflict–whether its investments are in Israeli bonds, or in companies that profit from the occupation, such as Motorola, Caterpillar, and Starbucks. The city has taken strong steps in the past to support divestment movements from South Africa and Sudan. It’s time to take the steps necessary to bring an end to this conflict.

We look forward to meeting with your administration to discuss the city’s investment policies.


SUSTAIN Philly: Stop U.S. Tax Aid to Israel Now!”

We would also like to spotlight the involvement, as mentioned in the letter, of our ally, No Time to Celebrate. It’s incredibly important, as we all know, that people understand that many principled Jewish people in and outside of Israel have taken actions to support a just peace. This is a link to a video they produced, of their part of the demonstration:

Finally, we’re proud to say that although the Daily News article was quite negative, Philadelphia IMC and National IMC have given us a lot of positive attention. Here’s the links to those:

Thanks again. Peace will come!

Comment by Jim Kennedy-Hennessey

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