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Israel just celebrated its 60th birthday. Not everyone was invited to the party, though…
From the Atlantic Free Press.
Sunday, 18 May 2008
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
It has been a week of adulation from world leaders, ostentatious displays of military prowess, and street parties. Heads of state have rubbed shoulders with celebrities to pay homage to the Jewish state on its 60th birthday, while a million Israelis reportedly headed off to the country’s forests to enjoy the national pastime: a barbecue.
But this year’s Independence Day festivities have concealed as much as they have revealed. The images of joy and celebration seen by the world have failed to acknowledge the reality of a deeply divided Israel, shared by two peoples with conflicting memories and claims to the land.
They have also served to shield from view the fact that the Palestinians’ dispossession is continuing in both the occupied territories and inside Israel itself. Far from being a historical event, Israel’s “independence” — and the ever greater toll it is inflicting on the Palestinian people — is very much a live issue.
Away from the cameras, a fifth of the Israeli population — more than one million Palestinian citizens — remembered al-Nakba, the Catastrophe of 1948 that befell the Palestinian people as the Jewish state was built on the ruins of their society.
As it has been doing for the past decade, Israel’s Palestinian minority staged an alternative act of commemoration: a procession of families, many of them refugees from the 1948 war, to one of more than 400 Palestinian villages erased by Israel in a monumental act of state vandalism after the fighting. The villages were destroyed to ensure that the 750,000 Palestinians expelled from the state under the cover of war never return.
But in a sign of how far Israel still is from coming to terms with the circumstances of its birth, this year’s march was forcibly broken up by the Israeli police. They clubbed unarmed demonstrators with batons and fired tear gas and stun grenades into crowds of families that included young children.
Read the rest at Atlantic Free Press.