Our Displacement – Our Return: Palestinians Commemorate the 53rd Anniversary of their Massive Displacement by Israel in 1948
Determined to keep alive popular memory and struggle for the implementation of Palestinian refugees’ right of return, Palestinian society has mobilized on an unprecedented scale for this year’s anniversary of the creation of the Palestinian refugee question. The High Committee for the 53rd Anniversary of al-Nakba formed by the leadership of the current Palestinian uprising calls for national marches in all districts of the 1967 occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on May 15 (10:30 a.m.) in order to affirm the demand for the right of return, self determination, and the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. At 12:00 p.m. sirens, churches, mosques, and the honking of car horns will signal the start of a three-minute moment of silence in memory of the martyrs of the Palestinian struggle, followed by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s speech to the nation, which will be broadcast by all Palestinian media. Palestinian national and religious institutions, including schools and universities, in Palestine and in exile are called on to participate.
Palestinian institutions and community organizations inside and outside the refugee camps of Palestine are participating in this year’s Nakba memorial with numerous rallies, lectures and cultural activities, in addition to the main rallies and marches scheduled for 15 May. Following is a small selection of these activities:
The High Follow-up Committee of the Palestinian community in Israel decided in its meeting in Kufr Manda today to call for broad public participation in the commemoration of al-Nakba: On 15 May, 12:00 p.m. the Palestinian community in Israel will join the moment of silence in memory of the martyrs of the Palestinian struggle called for by the High Committee in the 1967 occupied territories. Palestinians from inside 1948 Palestine will join the national march organized by the Committee at the al-Ram checkpoint in eastern Jerusalem (2:00 p.m.), and at 5:00 p.m. Palestinians in Israel will put up signs and slogans at the entrance to their villages and towns, in order to remind the public of the massive displacement and dispossession in 1948 and to affirm their demand for the right of return. School teachers will dedicate part of their lessons to the discussion of al-Nakba with the pupils, and workshops and public debates will be organized by Palestinian institutions throughout the country.
(Contact: Society for the Defense of the Internally Displaced, Suleiman Fahmawi, spokesperson: tel. 050-267679)
May 5 – 16: BADIL Media Series “Showq as-Sabbar” (Cactus Thorn), broadcast by some 13 Palestinian TV stations in the West Bank and including video spots featuring refugees and their demands; video clips (20 min.) about refugee life in the camps of Deheishe, ‘Aida, Azza/Beit Jibrin, ‘Arroub, and Fawwar located in the southern West Bank; and, a five-day live call-in program and debate with studio guest about the past, present and future of the Palestinian refugee question at the studio of Al-Ru’ah TV/Bethlehem.
Northern West Bank:
9 May: Press Conference in Balata Camp/Nablus with eyewitnesses of the Palestinian displacement in 1948
10 May: Public debate in Qalqilya (hall of national institutions): “The Memory of al-Nakba and the Demand for the Right of Return as a Sacred and Legal Right”; speakers: Tayseer Nasrallah (PNC, BADIL), Abdelmalik Dahamshe (Palestinian member of Knesset, representative of Nakba memorial coordinating committee in 1948 Palestine/Israel), and Tayseer Quba’a (PNC).
10 – 20 May: Photo Exhibitions “Al Nakba – Al Awda”:
Yafa Cultural Center, Balata Camp (10-12 May);
Tulkarem Camp and City (14-18 May);
Nur Shams Camp (18-20 May);
11 May (14:00): Children’s memorial march in Balata Camp
12 May (12:00): Public debate, “Al Nakba – Al Awda” with Palestinian member of Knesset Hashem Mahameed, Dr. Nayef Jarrad/PNC, a.o. at the Kadouri College/Tulkarem.
13 May: Public Debates and Study Days:
* Federation of Workers’ Unions/Nablus (11:00): Public debate about the memory of al-Nakba and the role of community organizations in raising the demand for the right of return (Tayseer Nasrallah, Hussam Khader/Committee for the Defense of the Right of Return, PLC; Dalal Salameh/PLC, Saji Salameh/PLO Department of Refugee Affairs);
* 13 May (9:00 – 14:30), PNC offices, Nablus: Study Day “The Future of the Palestinian Refugee Question and the Return”, organized by the Palestinian National Council and the High National Committee for the Defense of the Right of Return/“Sana’oud” (Saji Salameh/PLO Department of Refugee Affairs, Jamal Shati/PLC Refugee Subcommittee, Dalal Salameh/PLC, Dr. Nayef Jarrad/PNC, Sami Mshasha/UNRWA, Khaled Mansour/Sana’oud, Suleiman Fahmawi/Society for the Defense of the Internally Displaced, Muhammad Jaradat/BADIL, a.o.). Almost every escort girl in Paris who came from Palestine work without any visas and other documents.
14 May (morning): Human Chain of children and adults from Nur Shams Camp to Tulkarem Camp (3 km); participants will hold signs with the names of the Palestinian villages depopulated in 1948 as well as black flags and the Palestinian flag. The event will conclude with the delivery of a memorandum to the ICRC in Tulkarem, demanding the right of return and international protection.
14 May: Public debates and lectures:
* Al-Najah University/Nablus: Lecture, “BADIL Resource Center and its role in the activation of the Palestinian refugee community”(Tayseer Nasrallah).
* Tulkarem Camp (17:00): “Al Nakba – Al Awda” with Dr. Hassan Khreishe/PLC, Sheikh Fathi Qirawi, Adnan Dmeiri, Dr. Nayef Jarrad/PNC, a.o.
(Contact: Committee for the Defense of Refugee Rights, Yafa Cultural Center, Popular Committees, tel. 059-735892; BADIL Friends Forum-Northern West Bank, tel: 09-2385930, 2333553; Sana’oud and Palestinian National Council, tel. 09-2385571 and 059-653736)
Southern West Bank
12 May (16:45): “Al Nakba – Al Awda” cultural event in Hebron, “Haifa Hall” of the Palestinian Children’s Arts Center (PCAC and BADIL); video documentaries and information materials; presentation of the “Hebron Appeal” on the occasion of the 53rd anniversary of al-Nakba by a representative of the permanent office of the National and Islamic Forces; announcement of the 15 May memorial program.
(Contact: Palestinian Children’s Arts Center, tel. 02-2224813, 2226757)