Editorial

We will not forget

A girl raises a Palestinian flag as another Palestinian boy holds a wooden key symbolising the return, as they stand with others before the barbed-wire marking the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 13, 2018 during a demonstration anticipating the 70 years since the Palestinian "Nakba", or catastrophe, of 1948 when over 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation. / AFP / MAHMUD HAMS

Seventy years after the Nakba and the creation of the state of Israel on land stolen from Palestinians, some things have changed, but one thing has remained exactly the same.

Palestinians have not forgotten. Every day, in word and action, they remind the world and demonstrate their willingness to give their lives to keep the flame going.

Despite all the bloodshed and upheavals in the area, those who were thrown out of their homes 70 years ago have not lost their bearings. Their compass has always pointed toward Palestine. And generations old and young, whether a stone’s throw away in occupied Palestine or in exile in the region or beyond, still call their lands home.

Three generations have been born since 1948, each as outspoken as the one before, with jailed teenager Ahed Tamimi and the young Palestinians who have been killed at the Gaza border exemplifying this resolve.

And 70 years later, Israel has gone on expanding its brutal occupation, modernizing the methods it uses to grab more land, persecute Palestinians and impose its apartheid policies.

Now, despite outrage from Palestinians and opposition from the international community, Israel is basking in the U.S. decision to move its embassy to occupied Jerusalem, with U.S. Ambassador David Friedman claiming the move doesn’t derail chances for peace, in statements that could not be further removed from reality. Not for 30 years has peace been and justice for Palestinians been so far away.

This decision is in defiance of United Nations resolutions and reflects an almost exclusively U.S.-Israeli view that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, with several U.N. Security Council resolutions declaring otherwise.

The Israelis have ridden roughshod over every peace effort and Security Council resolution, have persisted in building settlements and acquiring the sophisticated arms to try to control and suppress the Palestinian people, all with the support of successive U.S. administrations.

But Israel’s expansionist policies are also due to an Arab failure to address this challenge with concrete actions. Instead, all the Palestinians have gotten is words, which have had no impact. That is the ugly truth.

Palestinians still have many friends around the world. But now, before they are willing to step in, they need to see Palestinians leading the way. For this to happen, Palestinians need to get their own house in order, put aside their differences and start speaking with one voice.

And there must be change. The Palestinian Authority must reform its governance and hand over the reins to a new generation, for whom Palestine must be their singular focus.

Seventy years ago, Israel and the West thought the events around the Nakba would be forgotten. But the Palestinians have shown otherwise.

They have not been broken and they will not forget.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 14, 2018, on page 1.

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