Israel persists in its denial of our fundamental and political rights, foremost among them our right to return to the cities, towns and villages from which we have been expelled since 1948. Israel continues to deny our right to self determination, and persists in pursuing its destructive policy of colonial expansion, stealing Palestinian land and displacing Palestinian people throughout historic Palestine. The current period is also witness to an unprecedented acceleration in what Israel calls the policy of ‘Judaization’ which has targeted the Palestinians in Jerusalem through closures, isolation, displacement, raising taxes, and erasing the Arab-Islamic past of the city by imposing these realities on the ground, and eliminating any chance of a political settlement.
From the outset of the Zionist colonial project in Palestine, murderous gangs have exercised control over Palestinian land, and with the support of Western states succeeded in expelling two thirds of the Palestinian people from their historic homeland, destroying cities, towns and villages in the process imposing the new reality of dispersal, refuge and exile on an entire people and creating one of the harshest humanitarian and political cases the world has known.
The Nakba of 1948 aimed to destroy the very foundations of the Palestinian people, its social fabric, its presence on its historic homeland, and almost erased Palestine off the world’s political map upon the declaration of the establishment of Israel on most of the land of Palestine. While many wagered on the disappearance of the Palestinian people who would melt into exile, the reality was the exact opposite. Palestinians driven by their thirst for freedom rose to the defense of an Arab Palestine, crafting through their heroic epics the fundamental pillars of Palestinian national identity, reaffirming the justice of their cause and carving “Palestine” on the maps of political geography. Their refugee camps formed the cauldrons in which the flames of truth and justice kindled the burning will to return to Palestine, and to return Palestine to its people.
Today, and as we relive the memory of the Nakba, the catastrophe that befell our people, we renew our pledge to struggle for a free Arab Palestine, to keep the return to our homeland as the banner under which we struggle through all legitimate means, and particularly our right to defend our national inheritance, our social heritage, our right to a free homeland in which freedom, dignity, and democracy will be maintained, led by institutions that are accountable to the people.
It is in this context that we, the movements and organizations working to defend and struggle for the rights of Palestinian refugees, and who work to entrench a culture rooted in our rights to our historic homeland and to return to it, call upon the Palestinian political leadership to work to end the state of Palestinian division, and to confront the racist government of Israel by adopting practical policies that serve the struggle to implement refugees’ right to return to their lands and homes of origin.
On this sixty-first year of the Nakba, the Nakba continues through colonial expansion, closures, segregation, land confiscation, the Judaization of Jerusalem as well as Palestinian division. It is this ongoing Nakba that obliges us to maintain principled policies that serve our national interests in order to face this oppressive Israeli regime and refrain from making any concessions in the face of all threats. The right of return remains a sacred national principle, an individual and collective right that forces us to do all that is in our power to end the state of Palestinian political and geographic division.
The mass mobilizations in our streets and cultural venues are only a reaffirmation of our people’s commitment to their sacred right to return to Palestine, all of Palestine as reiterated by UN General Assembly Resolution 194, and which guarantees the right for all Palestinian refugees.
Long live a free and Arab Palestine
Glory and immortality to our martyrs
Palestinian National Nakba Commemoration Committee