75 years of al-Nakba: Palestinian struggle continues against Israeli apartheid

May 15 marks the 75th year of al-Nakba — the Arabic word for catastrophe — inflicted upon the people of Palestine in 1948. Every year, this day is commemorated to support the ongoing resistance against Israeli apartheid. Israel and the U.S. government, on the other hand, celebrate this event as Israeli “independence” — an independence that emerged out of terror, massacres and mass expulsions.

It is clear to all that Israel could not have continued to exist for the last 75 years without the political, financial and military support of the United States. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid, amounting to a staggering $150 billion to date. It is a loyal servant of the interests of U.S. empire in the Middle East. 

Ethnic cleansing at the heart of creation of Israel

Extensive media disinformation and propaganda seek to intentionally complicate the origin story of Israel. However, the destruction of Palestinian lives and homes is an indisputable fact.

With the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I imminent, leaders of Britain, France and Czarist Russia signed the Sykes-Picot agreement in secret, laying out plans to divvy up of the Middle East as colonies. With its “Balfour declaration” in 1917, British imperialism officially became supportive of the establishment of a Zionist state. In true colonial fashion, any and all settlement talks entirely excluded Palestinians. This scheme was exposed by the new Bolshevik government after the Russian Revolution in October 1917. 

The process of carving up Palestine for the new Israeli state was a repulsive expression of western colonialism and imperialism. In November 1947, the United Nations voted to partition the British colony of Palestine: 55% for a Jewish state, 44% for an Arab state, and 1% for an international zone. The Palestinians were not consulted before the UN vote.

Plan Dalet unleashes terror against Palestinians

It was clear from the start that the goal of the Zionist leaders was not just to seize territory, but also to uproot and expel as much of the Arab population as possible in Palestine. 

Israel’s Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, although delighted at the UN’s capitulation to illegally carving up Palestine for settlements, was wary of Washington’s shifting sentiments, where the State Department was floating a proposal to scrap partition and replace it with a five-year trusteeship. The Zionist leaders rejected it outright, but were acutely conscious of the importance of maintaining support from the United States.

Confronted with rising political pressures and the loss of support from the British army after its withdrawal, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion greenlighted increasing terror to squash Palestinian resistance, unleashing “Plan Dalet” on March 10, 1948. 

Before this plan, the ruling Jewish Agency government could not clear Palestinian villages fast enough and had only pushed out 5% of the Palestinian population. To complete the expulsion of Palestinians, Israel’s paramilitary forces launched a systematic terror effort and staged heinous acts of violence against “quiet” Palestinian villages. 

The escalation of terror against Palestinian civilians was unimaginable. For example, the Zionists would “plant explosives around Palestinian houses in the middle of the night, drench them in gasoline, and open fire … Arbitrary executions became routine, particularly directed against men and boys who were designated as being of fighting age — whether they were involved in resistance or not.” 

Plan Dalet was a precursor for the criminal Deir Yassin massacre in April 1948 when Zionist forces wiped out the village on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The brutality of this massacre in particular has become a symbol of the brutal, criminal character of the Israeli government from its very beginning.  

No Israel without U.S. support

The United States financially supported Israel from as early as the 1950s. The 1967 Arab-Israeli war was a watershed event in the region’s history when Israel captured massive amounts of Palestinian territory and expanded into Syria. 

More than 35,000 Arabs were killed, many of them burned to death by Pentagon-supplied napalm bombs. Ninety thousand Syrians and Palestinians were driven out of the Golan region of Syria. This war revealed to U.S. leaders that Israel could be a highly-effective weapon against Arab and Palestinian liberation struggles.

Israel receives $3.8 billion in military aid from the United States every year — a sum that is also a subsidy for the U.S. weapons industry, which Israel is required to purchase the weapons from. While more and more countries around the world join the consensus that Israel is an apartheid state, U.S. diplomatic support remains a vital lifeline. Put simply, Israel could not and would not exist without unilateral U.S. economic, political and military support. 

Even with the rise of extremist right-wing forces in the Israeli government, the U.S. government is committed to supporting Israel. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said last year that the “U.S.-Israel partnership … has always been underwritten by the [United States’] ironclad commitment to Israel’s security” — all of this support continues as Israel continues repressing and murdering Palestinians daily. 

Al-Nakba and resistance continues

Seven decades after Al-Nakba, the right of return still remains a central issue in the struggle for Palestinian liberation. Today, 46% of the six million Palestinian refugees reside inside historic Palestine — the 1948 borders of Israel, or the West Bank and Gaza. Another 42% live within 100 miles of its borders in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Israeli troops have been systematically disabling and murdering peaceful Palestinian protesters who resist this injustice — often in horrific fashion like during the 2018 Great March of Return protests.

In 2021, the Israeli Supreme Court officially sanctioned apartheid by upholding the constitutionality of a legal statute called Basic Law: Israel — The Nation State of the Jewish People. This law states that “Israel is unique to the Jewish people,” established Hebrew as the official language and officiated “Jewish settlement as a national value.”

In the same year, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Affairs Fernand de Varennes said, “Reports of extreme right-wing violence and disproportional use of force by law enforcement officials during protests in recent weeks, including in Sheikh Jarrah, Damascus Gate and the Al-Aqsa mosque, have led to some of the worst cases of violence against Palestinian[s].” Lack of international consequences continues to embolden the Zionist state to take innocent lives like that of prominent Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh one year ago. 

The resistance by the Palestinian people has not let up, and the struggle is joined by more and more people with each passing year. The Palestinian cause is growing in popularity around the world, including in the United States. The Israeli and U.S. ruling classes adamantly oppose the right of return, yet, the Palestinian struggle for liberation has persisted for generations. The last 75 years has made it clear that this fight for freedom will continue until the collapse of the Israeli apartheid system.

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