Palestinians in Israel Boycott Israeli Independence Celebrations: Statement by the National Committee for the Defense of Internally Displaced Palestinians in Israel

For the first time since 1948, the Palestinian community in Israel has issued a united call for a public boycott of the celebrations of Israel's "Independence Day " (14 May 2000). The boycott is led by the National Committee for the Defense of the Internally Displaced Palestinians in Israel in cooperation with the Arab Monitoring Committee composed of Palestinian mayors and members of Knesset, political parties, and national institutions. A celebration staged by the Israeli authorities in the Palestinian town of Shafa'amr on May 7, was met by a Palestinian counter demonstration which led to violent confrontations with the police and resulted in 20 Palestinian injuries and 30 arrests.   

At the end of 1947, Mandatory Palestine was the home of some 1,280,000 Palestinian Arabs who owned 93% of the land. The violent confrontations between Zionist forces and local Palestinian militia following the collapse of the UN-sponsored "Petition Plan" (November 1947), and the consequent Israeli-Arab war in 1948 led to the forceful eviction of at least 800,000 Palestinian Arabs. While the large majority of them were eventually pushed across the borders of the new Israeli state, tens of thousands remained as internally displaced refugees inside the territory that became Israel. They were part of the some 150,000 Palestinians who had remained in Israel after the Palestinian NAKBA (tragedy). By 2000, only 3% of the land have remained in Palestinian ownership. The number of internally displaced Palestinians living within the borders of the Israeli state is estimated to be 250,000 (approximately 20% of the total Palestinian population), most of them living in the Galilee, the central triangle, the mixed cities in the center, and in the Naqab. 

Internally displaced Palestinians, forced out of their original homes and villages in 1948, found shelter in neighboring Palestinian towns and villages or in makeshift refugee camps not far from their homes. In 1950, internally displaced Palestinians were defined as "present absentees" under the Israeli Absentees' Property Law. Areas of high Palestinian population concentration were placed under Israeli military rule, freedom of movement, expression, organization, and use of property were subject to tight restrictions. Although internally displaced Palestinians were eventually accorded Israeli citizenship under the 1952 Israeli Nationality Law, they have been prevented to return to their homes and lands. Find more interesting information here! 

Statement by the National Committee for the Defense of the Internally Displaced in Israel
May 2000. 

Dear Palestinian People, 

When David Ben Gurion declared the establishment of Israel, announced the independence of the Jewish State and promised peace for the people of the region, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcefully evicted - massacres and planned eviction - by armed gangs headed by the Haganah, the predecessor of the "Israeli Defense Army". Between night and dawn, two-thirds of our people became refugees without shelter but for the sky over the refugee camps. The Zionist gangs did not suffice with the eviction of almost one million Palestinians, but also totally destroyed 530 Arab villages and cities. They confiscated our lands and properties by means of unjust laws and considered our people as "absentees", although they are still present and alive. 

Fifty-two years later, our people still suffer from the harsh conditions in the refugee camps, as well as the restrictive policies and the iron hand implemented the Arab regimes without exception and climaxing in massacres from "Black September" (Jordan, 1970), Tel az-Z’atar (Lebanon, 1976), until Sabra and Shatila (Lebanon, 1982). Our people continue to look to Palestine, hoping to return. They reject all alternatives of compensation and resettlement. 

We the internally displaced Palestinians suffer a double pain. We have remained near our destroyed villages and towns. With pain we listen to the silent prayers of our mosques and the silent call of our church bells - silenced since our eviction and  transformed into stables for the settlers' cattle and sites of prostitution  and drug abuse. They desecrate the cemeteries of our ancestors who, for 52 years, have not stopped appealing to our conscience and the conscience of humanity. Find more interesting information here! 

Yes, they took our land by massacres and by the eviction of two thirds of our Palestinian people. They destroyed our villages, confiscated our lands, and consider us absentees. They instigate the Arab regimes to implement the most abominable massacres, even inside the refugee camps.  They who practice the policy of ethnic cleansing against us, who are considered citizens in the "oasis of democracy in the Middle East", are celebrating - in conjunction with their allies and spies - their "independence day", the day of our "Nakba" (tragedy). 

Based on our beliefs and our sense of belonging to the Palestinian people, on our commitment to return, and our rejection of  all alternatives of compensation and resettlement, we call upon our Palestinian people in Israel, the internally displaced, to participate in the activities organized by the National Committee for the Defense of the Internally Displaced Palestinians in Israel: 

1. Visits of the destroyed villages organized by the Local Committees of the Internally Displaced on the morning of Wednesday, 10 May 2000, especially the visit to Umm al-Zeinat village (10:00 a.m.) 

2. "Return March" organized by the National Committee for the Defense of Internally Displaced Palestinians in Israel on Wednesday, 10 May 2000 (15:30). The March will lead from Kaboul village to the destroyed village of Damoun; participants will carry signs with the names of our destroyed villages. 

3. Public Rally for the commemoration of the 52nd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba organized by the National Committee for the Defense of Internally Displaced Palestinians in Israel with the participation of all political parties on Monday 15 May 2000 (at 5:00 p.m. in the Sports Hall/Umm al Fahm, near the secondary school). 

We call upon all our people to boycott all celebrations of the independence of Israel, official and non-official, and to participate in the national activities which reaffirm our belonging to our People and our Land!  

Shafa'amr, 10 May 2000,  

The National Committee for the Defense of Internally Displaced Palestinians in Israel 
Spokesperson, tel. 050-267679