Reflections on Nakba Day

by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

This week was the 65th commemoration of the Nakba, the forced removal of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their home and their entry into refugee status. Over 500 Palestinians villages were destroyed during the Nakba.

Today, millions of children and grandchildren of the first generation of Palestinian refugees from the period of the Nakba live in the world’s largest open air prison. They are not even allowed cement to rebuild houses destroyed by Cast Lead. Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are also refused national and civil rights. Their “encampments” are surrounded by barbed wire fences and they are imprisoned for a life time. Syrian Palestinians are also suffering from the civil war occurring there.

The story of Palestinians is often shunned. It is against the law, against the law! to teach the Nakba in the country that expelled Palestinians from their homes. What does it mean to make the Nakba an outlawed story in Israel? The nation of storytellers refusing to tell a story?

The only alternative to the present condition of strife and struggle is convivencia, living well together. Together on the same land. Together with mutual acceptance. Together as citizens of a common nation.

The first steps toward this vision is the acknowledgement of the Nakba and with that acknowledgment, grappling with The Right of Return. Remove the walls, open the gates, and let our two nations live out the days of their lives as free people in solidarity with one another with all the rights and privileges a human being deserves in this life.

This is the only path to peace. We can find a way. If we will it, it is not a dream.

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