From Balfour to Lions’ Den: A contribution to defining Palestinian Nakba

11 Nov, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen English

Makram Khoury-Machool 

The Palestinian Nakba began exactly 105 years ago with the release of a letter from then-British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to the leader of the Zionist movement in what became infamously called the Balfour Declaration.

The project to establish the Zionist entity was and still is based on a long-term joint program between the Zionist movement and some colonial powers, primarily Britain and the US

As someone who grew up and was raised in the city of Yafa after the occupation of eastern Palestine in the 1967 war – known as the Naksa – in the house of his late grandfather and under the auspices of a great educational figure such as my grandmother, known as Madame Khoury, who’s slogan “I’d rather die in my house in Yafa than become a refugee” became a mantra that engraved in our minds the effect of attachment to the land… and as someone who listened and read the successive enthusiastic political articles of his father, the political writer Naim Youssef Machool, about the Nakba, the land, agriculture and steadfastness, as well as the articles, plays, interviews, and lectures of his mother, writer and novelist Antoinette Adeeb El-Khoury, I thought that based on this extensive personal experience, I should support and base my claim, listed below, on journalistic observations from the 80s and 90s in Palestine in particular and on two decades of academic research on the Palestinian issue in Britain in particular, and present a contribution to an expanded project whose main idea I will briefly list below.

We say that it is widely accepted that the Nakba of the Palestinians took place chronologically under the British mandate between the partition plan and Resolution of 29/11/1947 and the 1949 armistice with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, although there was no agreement within the framework of an armistice or the like with the Palestinian people; whether those who were expelled from it or those who remained in their homeland.

Accordingly, the struggle involving the Palestinian people remains open: Zionist domination of Palestine and Palestinian resistance against the occupation.

This article, part of which was presented at the University of Freiburg in Germany in 2011 and the Bandung Conference in 2015 and 2022, argues that although the most catastrophic period of the Palestinian Nakba (lit. catastrophe) reached its peak between 1947 and 1949, the Nakba was neither the beginning nor the end of the Palestinian people’s catastrophe.

This article claims that the Nakba of the Palestinian people began exactly 105 years ago with the release of a letter from then-British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to the leader of the Rothschild Zionist movement in what became infamously known as the Balfour Declaration issued on 2/11/1917, which followed the occupation of Palestine by Britain that was involved in WWI, especially the occupation of Al-Quds by General Allenby in December 1917.

It also argues that the Nakba includes everything that has happened since then until now, but certainly, this catastrophe reached its peak between 1947 and 1949 – which witnessed the forced expulsion of half of the Palestinian people from their homeland and the destruction of the majority of Palestine’s cultural, commercial, and social structure – and is continuing deliberately according to a plan that has not stopped until achieving liberation and independence.

Apart from emotional slogans, the project to establish the Zionist entity was and still is based on a long-term joint program between the Zionist movement and some colonial powers, primarily Britain and the US. In addition, this article claims and warns that an attempt to implement a new chapter of the Nakba of the Palestinian people is very possible, including the expulsion of additional Palestinians from West and East Palestine because the goal is to seize Palestine as a whole and the Palestinian people are seen as an obstacle that must be eliminated to achieve this goal.

Since the peak of the Nakba between 1947 and 1949, Palestinians, whom I defined as the survivors of the Nakba – meaning those who were able to remain in their homeland and who were intended to be loggers and waterers, as per the Israeli occupation administration, for the ruling Zionist class and its Jewish Arab servants who were brought in from the Arab countries to colonize Palestine – consisted a “security problem” not only in Al-Jaleel, the Triangle Area, and Al-Naqab, but also in the Palestinian coastal cities, such as Akka in the north and Yafa in the south.

When late historian Dr. Constantin Zureik published the book The Meaning of the Nakba in 1948, a few months after the catastrophe and the peak of the Nakba, his description of the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people was accurate – due to what he witnessed personally and through his professional academic tools – being coupled with a resounding catastrophic psychological trauma.

However, examining what has happened to the Palestinian people, during the past 105 years, requires a new definition or at least an updated definition of the Nakba that has prevailed so far. What happened since 1917 onward shows the numerous and ongoing chapters of the Nakba of the Palestinian people since the Balfour Declaration till now, including the decision to partition Palestine in 1947 and the occupation of the second part of Palestine in 1967, the first Palestinian Intifada in 1987, the Oslo Accords and their offshoots between 1993 and 1994 and the second Palestinian Intifada that began in Al-Quds in 2000, as well as the killing of the first official Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004, the repeated wars on the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing aggression against the occupied West Bank and Al-Quds, in addition to a set of racist laws against the Palestinian people in western Palestine, specifically the so-called “National Law” of 2018, the continuous killing of the Palestinian people in occupied East Palestine and the arrest of more than a million Palestinian since the Naksa, including women, children and elderly, the expanding settlement that hasn’t stopped and the confiscation of lands, the so-called “Deal of the Century” and Netanyahu and Trump’s annexation scheme, which I called in a previous article the “third armed robbery,” and the economic and “military” occupation siege on the Gaza Strip by air, sea and land, 

On December 16, 2016, exactly on the 99th anniversary of the issuance of the Balfour Letter, we launched the Palestine Initiative 100 to re-engage with the beginning of this catastrophe. We were determined to renew encouragement to open the Balfour file since the beginning of the Palestinian people’s Nakba in 1917 and held a publicity evening in London, the capital of the British Empire that issued the Balfour Letter to the Zionist movement. As part of holding Britain to its historical, legal, and moral responsibilities, we demanded three types of steps: apology, compensation, and correction. We believe that canceling any of these steps would be naive, incomplete, or deceptive.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

‘PAINFUL MARCH FOR FREEDOM’: THE TRIUMPHANT LEGACY OF PALESTINIAN PRISONERS

SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2022

Source

By Ramzy Baroud

As soon as I left prison, I went to Nael’s grave. It is adorned with the colors of the Palestinian flag and verses from the Holy Quran. I told my little brother how much I loved and appreciated him, and that, one day, we would meet again in paradise.

The above is part of a testimony given to me by a former Palestinian prisoner, Jalal Lutfi Saqr. It was published two years ago in the volume ‘These Chains Will Be Broken’.

As a Palestinian, born and raised in a refugee camp in Gaza, I was always familiar with the political discourse of, and concerning, political prisoners. My neighborhood, like every neighborhood in Gaza, is populated with a large number of former prisoners, or families whose members have experienced imprisonment in the past or present.

However, starting in 2016, my relationship with the subject took on, for the lack of a better term,  a more ‘academic’ approach. Since then, and up to now, I have interviewed scores of former prisoners and members of their families. Some were imprisoned by Israel, others by the Palestinian Authority. I even spoke to prisoners who experienced the brutality of Middle Eastern prisons, from Iraq, to Syria, to Egypt and Lebanon. A few particularly unlucky ones have endured multiple prison experiences and were tortured by men speaking different languages.

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Some prisoners, now quite old, were imprisoned by the British army, which colonized Palestine between 1920 and 1948. They were held according to the 1945 so-called Defense (Emergency) Regulations, an arbitrary legal code that allowed the British to hold as many rebelling Palestinian Arabs without having to provide a cause or engage in due process.

This system remains in effect to this day, as it was adopted by Israel following the end of the British Mandate. Following minor amendments in 1979, and the renaming of the law into the “Israeli Law on Authority in States of Emergency”, this is essentially today’s so-called ‘Administrative Detention’. It allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians, practically indefinitely, based on ‘secret evidence’ that is not revealed, even to the defense attorney.

These ‘emergency’ laws remain in place, simply because Palestinians never ceased resisting. Thousands of Palestinians were held without evidence or trial during the First Palestinian Intifada, the uprising of 1987. Most of them were kept in horrific living conditions, in tent cities in the Naqab Desert.

According to the Palestinian Commission on Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, around one million Palestinians were imprisoned between 1967 and 2021. Currently, hundreds of Palestinian ‘administrative detainees’ are held in Israeli prisons, an act that violates international law on various counts – holding prisoners without trial or due process, and transferring prisoners to enemy territories, the latter being a stark violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

Of course, respecting international law has never been Israel’s strongest suit. In fact, Israel continues to deliberately ignore international law in numerous aspects of its illegal military occupation of Palestine, rationalizing such actions on ‘security’ grounds.

Palestinians are also doing what they do best, resist, under the harshest circumstances and by every means available to them. Tellingly, the strongest of such resistance takes place inside prison walls, by gaunt looking, and often dying hunger strikers.

Khalil Awawdeh, a 40-year-old Palestinian from a village near Al-Khalil (Hebron) is the latest prisoner hunger striker to make history, by simply refraining from eating for 180 days. His weight has dropped to 38 kilograms, after losing over 40 kilograms while on hunger strike. The images of his half-naked, skeletal body have been deemed ‘graphic’ and ‘offensive’ to some social media users, and were removed as soon as they were shared. At the end, he could only whisper a few words. Though barely audible, they were filled with courage.

Khalil Awawdeh
Khalil Awawdeh in bed at Asaf Harofeh Hospital in Be’er Ya’akov, Israel, Aug. 24, 2022. Mahmoud Illean | AP

On August 31, Awawdeh ended his hunger strike, after reaching a deal with the Israeli prison administration to release him on October 2. His first words after that agreement were hardly those of a dying man, but of a triumphant leader: “This resounding victory extends the series of great victories achieved by the mighty and honorable people of this nation.”

These words, however, were not unique. They carried the same sentiment communicated to me by every single freed prisoner I have interviewed in recent years. None have any regrets, even those who spent most of their lives in dark cells and in shackles; even those who lost loved ones; even those who left prison with chronic diseases, to die soon after their release. Their message is always that of defiance, of courage, and of hope.

Awawdeh is neither the first, nor the last prisoner to undergo these life-threatening hunger strikes. The strategy may be explained, and understandably so, as the last resort or as acts of desperation by individuals who are left without alternatives. But for Palestinians, these are acts of resistance that demonstrate the power of the Palestinian people: even in prison, handcuffed to a hospital bed, denied every basic human right, a Palestinian can fight, and win. Awawdeh did.

When Jalal Lutfi Saqr learned that his brother Nael was killed by the Israeli army in Gaza, he was a prisoner in Israel. He told me that the first thing he did when he learned of his brother’s death was kneeling down and praying. The following day, Jalal spoke to the mourners in his Gaza refugee camp using a smuggled cell phone by telling them, “Ours is a long and painful march for freedom.

“Some of us are in prison; others are underground, but we will never cease our fight for our people. We must remain committed to the legacy of our forefathers and our martyrs. We are all brothers, in blood, in the struggle and in faith, so let’s remain united as one people, as brothers and sisters, and carry on, despite the heavy losses and tremendous sacrifices.”

Jalal’s call on his people was made twenty years ago. It remains as relevant today, as it was then.

PALESTINE’S NEW RESISTANCE MODEL: HOW THE PAST YEAR REDEFINED THE STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM

JUNE 8TH, 2022

Source

By Ramzy Baroud

What took place between May 2021 and May 2022 is nothing less than a paradigm shift in Palestinian resistance. Thanks to the popular and inclusive nature of Palestinian mobilization against the Israeli occupation, resistance in Palestine is no longer an ideological, political or regional preference.

In the period between the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and only a few years ago, Palestinian muqawama – or resistance –  was constantly put in the dock, often criticized and condemned, as if an oppressed nation had a moral responsibility in selecting the type of resistance to suit the needs and interests of its oppressors.

As such, Palestinian resistance became a political and ideological litmus test. The Palestinian Authority of Yasser Arafat and, later, Mahmoud Abbas, called for ‘popular resistance’, but it seems that it neither understood what the strategy actually meant, and certainly was not prepared to act upon such a call.

Palestinian armed resistance was removed entirely from its own historical context; in fact, the context of all liberation movements throughout history, and was turned into a straw man, set up by Israel and its western allies to condemn Palestinian ‘terrorism’ and to present Israel as a victim facing an existential threat.

With the lack of a centralized Palestinian definition of resistance, even pro-Palestine civil society groups and organizations demarcated their relationship to the Palestinian struggle based on embracing certain forms of Palestinian resistance and condemning others.

The argument that only oppressed nations should have the right to choose the type of resistance that could speed up their salvation and freedom fell on deaf ears.

The truth is that Palestinian resistance preceded the official establishment of Israel in 1948. Palestinians and Arabs who resisted British and Zionist colonialism used many methods of resistance that they perceived to be strategic and sustainable. There was no relationship whatsoever between the type of resistance and the religious, political or ideological identity of those who resisted.

This paradigm prevailed for many years, starting with the Fidayeen Movement following the Nakba, the popular resistance to the brief Israeli occupation of Gaza in 1956, and the decades-long occupation and siege starting in 1967. The same reality was expressed in Palestinian resistance in historic Palestine throughout the decades; armed resistance ebbed and flowed, but popular resistance remained intact. The two phenomena were always intrinsically linked, as the former was also sustained by the latter.

The Fatah Movement, which dominates today’s Palestinian Authority, was formed in 1959 to model liberation movements in Vietnam and Algeria. Regarding its connection to the Algerian struggle, the Fatah manifesto read: “The guerrilla war in Algeria, launched five years before the creation of Fatah, has a profound influence on us. […] They symbolize the success we dreamed of.”

This sentiment was championed by most modern Palestinian movements as it proved to be a successful strategy for most southern liberation movements. In the case of Vietnam, the resistance to US occupation carried out even during political talks in Paris. The underground resistance in South Africa remained vigilant until it became clear that the country’s apartheid regime was in the process of being dismantled.

Palestinian disunity, however, which was a direct result of the Oslo Accords, made a unified Palestinian position on resistance untenable. The very idea of resistance itself became subject to the political whims and interests of factions. When, in July 2013, PA President Abbas condemned armed resistance, he was trying to score political points with his western supporters, and further sow the seeds of division among his people.

The truth is that Hamas neither invented nor has ownership of, armed resistance. In June 2021, a poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), revealed that 60% of Palestinians support “a return to armed confrontations and Intifada.” By stating so, Palestinians were not necessarily declaring allegiance to Hamas. Armed resistance, though in a different style and capacity also exists in the West Bank, and is largely championed by Fatah’s own Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The recent Israeli attacks on the town of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, were not aimed at eliminating Hamas, Islamic Jihad or socialist fighters, but Fatah’s own.

Skewed media coverage and misrepresentation of the resistance, often by Palestinian factions themselves, turned the very idea of resistance into a political and factional scuffle, forcing everyone involved to take a position on the issue. The discourse on the resistance, however,  began changing in the last year.

The May 2021 rebellion and the Israeli war on Gaza – known among Palestinians as the Unity Intifada – served as a paradigm shift. The language became unified; self-serving political references quickly dissipated; collective frames of reference began replacing provisional, regional and factional ones; occupied Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque emerged as the unifying symbols of resistance; a new generation began to emerge and quickly began to develop new platforms.

On May 29, the Israeli government insisted on allowing the so-called ‘Flag March’ – a mass rally by Israeli Jewish extremists that celebrate the capture of the Palestinian city of al-Quds – to once more pass through Palestinian neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem. This was the very occasion that instigated the violence of the previous year. Aware of the impending violence which often results from such provocations, Israel wanted to impose the timing and determine the nature of the violence. It failed. Gaza didn’t fire rockets. Instead, tens of thousands of Palestinians mobilized throughout occupied Palestine, thus allowing popular mobilization and coordination between numerous communities to grow. Palestinians proved able to coordinate their responsibility, despite the numerous obstacles, hardships and logistical difficulties.

The events of the last year are a testament that Palestinians are finally freeing their resistance from factional interests. The most recent confrontations show that Palestinians are even harnessing resistance as a  strategic objective. Muqawama in Palestine is no longer ‘symbolic’ or supposedly ‘random’ violence that reflects ‘desperation’ and lack of political horizon. It is becoming more defined, mature and well-coordinated.

This phenomenon must be extremely worrying to Israel, as the coming months and years could prove critical in changing the nature of the confrontation between Palestinians and their occupiers. Considering that the new resistance is centered around homegrown, grassroots, community-oriented movements, it has far greater chances of success than previous attempts. It is much easier for Israel to assassinate a fighter than to uproot the values of resistance from the heart of a community.

The Nakba, administrative detention, Jenin and Shireen Abu Akleh

1 Jun 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen English

Fra Hughes 

What do these four separate events have in common?

The Nakba, administrative detention, Jenin and Shireen Abu Akleh

The Nakba as many people are already aware refers to the mass expulsion of ethnic Palestinians from their homes towns and villages in 1948.

Over 750 000 old men, young women mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, fled for their lives, under the threat of annihilation and ethnic genocide from the forces of the newly created “Israel”.

“Israel” was born into the bloodied hands of Zionist terrorism, the Irgun, Stern gangs, and Haganah.

Terrorist groups murdered, maimed mutilated, and raped Palestinians as part of their campaign to create the colonial regime of “Israel” in the land depleted of its indigenous population.

Europeans who were not born in Palestine carried out a wave of ethnic cleansing and a campaign of murder to replace the indigenous population with a nonindigenous invasion of European Jewish and Zionist colonial carpet baggers, who stole farms, occupied homes and robbed the national wealth and resources of Palestine for their own selfish gain.

They not only stole the land, but they stole the lives, the future, the dreams and the aspirations of a nation and its people, forcing 8 million Palestinians to live in exile, many still surviving in refugee camps, and two open-air defacto prison camps, incarcerating the remaining Palestinians living under illegal military occupation.

The ‘Nakba’ is the name given to the Catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people in 1948.

That ongoing catastrophe continues today as illegal Israeli settlements are built on land stolen by the apartheid regime in the occupied territories.

The theft of homes in Al-Khalil and Sheik Jarrah, combined with the recent Israeli Court decision to expel 1000 Palestinians from their homes in order to plant trees on top of their land, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the ethnic cleansing house by house,  dunum by dunum, continue apace and is indeed Israeli state policy 

The remodeling of Palestine into “Israel” continues.

Add to this the cultural appropriation of Palestinian culture and food, and we have nearly the complete expropriation of most things that are Palestinian into a hybrid “Israel” society.

Even the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Al-Quds (Jerusalem) is under constant assault by Israeli occupation forces and illegal settlers, who wish to take and ultimately destroy the mosque, the third most holy site in Islam, in order to build the fabled Temple Mount on the site, of which “Israel” archaeologists have found no historical evidence.

All this violence, death, destruction, and regional conflict were delivered by the US, Britain, and the UN.

They gave away 52% of Palestine on the 14th of May, 1948.

They gave it to the armed militant Zionist gangs who were designated as terrorists at that time.

“Israel” was built on terrorism and continues to exist through its use of terrorism, illegal occupation, siege, bombings, warships, F16 aircraft, attack helicopters, nuclear submarines, extrajudicial murders, spies, and collaborators.

Palestinians have paid the ultimate price for European antisemitism from 19th-century Czarist Russia to Hitler’s 20th-century Germany.

Palestinian are paying the price for crimes they did not commit.

The riots in Al-Quds in 1926 prove Zionist intentions to colonize Palestine long before the second world war.

The primary resistance to this military occupation of Palestinian homes, towns, lands, and villages by Zionists was the use of armed resistance. 

Although Palestine had no army, navy, or airforce, with most of the civilian population having been disarmed by the British occupation prior to partition, the people tried valiantly to defend themselves.

As part of the occupation’s oppressive control of Palestinians today, the use of administrative detention, also known as internment without trial, used by the British during the British Mandate laws, has no legal basis in international law.

It is used to disrupt peaceful opposition to the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation as a blunt tool of repression.

No charges are brought against the plaintiff.

Secret evidence may be produced for the non-jury, trial judge to peruse.

This secret evidence, if it even exists, is not made available to the defense, and universally the victim of this miscarriage of justice is carted off to jail for periods of 6 months at a time. 

This can be extended at the whim of the court upon expiry.

Some Palestinians have served concurrent periods of administrative detention leading to between 10 and 15 years of incarceration.

No formal charges are presented, no trial by jury, no evidence provided in open court to be challenged by the defense, just a nod and a wink between the state enforcement branch of government and the state judiciary branch of government, and you’re locked up.

A whole society and government based on the continued exploitation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, in order to allow Zionists to steal their homes and their land.

This is all carried out under the protection of the IOF.

Palestinians are subject to military law and military courts while illegal Israeli settlers are subject to civil law and civil courts. 

Administrative detention, controlled movement, extrajudicial murder, house demolitions, live bullets rubber bullets, batons, tear gas, bombs, and missiles are the order of the day in the arsenal of the repressive apartheid regime to be used as necessary against the Palestinian people.

While the UN passed resolution 194 allowing Palestinians who fled the ethnic cleansing of 1948 to return to Palestine, “Israel” consistently refuses to comply.

Any Jew not born in Palestine can immigrate there from Russia, America, France, Ukraine, Britain, or indeed from any part of the globe and be given land or homes that have been stolen from the indigenous people?

Palestinians have the right under international law to resist the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by ‘ Any Means Necessary’ this includes the right to armed self-defense.

Jenin is one of the many refugee camps that are to be found in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and indeed all over West Asia.

Many of its inhabitants are refugees from the expulsions of 1948 and again in 1967 when the Israeli militarily occupied the West Bank and Gaza.

A refugee camp filled with the nightmares of occupation and the dreams of returning to their homes and land.

A place where the spirit of freedom shines bright amidst the darkness of oppression. 

The only response to the overwhelming and complete control of their society, and as a reaction to the continued Israeli military brutality and provocations, was to use their very bodies in an act of desperation to remind the world and Israeli society they refuse to be treated like this, they chose to resist 

Recently we have witnessed Israeli provocations at Al Aqsa,

The beatings and arrests inside the mosque combined with the firing of tear gas at peaceful worshippers, the brutality shown towards the old men, young women, and girls near Damascus Gate and the apparent shoot to kill policy being used by the IOF against unarmed civilians, has enraged Palestinian civil society and roused the resistance into action

Many children, young men, and even mothers have been murdered by the IOF.

A death sentence is a price for resisting the illegal occupation with a stone.

Jenin is not alone in continuing to resist the occupation, every Palestinian – except those who profit from the occupation or collaborate with it – demands peace, justice and dignity for Palestine.

Shireen Abu Akleh died as she lived exposing Israeli violations of international law, its war crimes, its brutality and its viciousness.

The hierarchy of victimhood, which is so well defined in the West, can also be found in Israeli coverage of the occupation.

Palestinians are “terrorists”.

Israelis are “peace-loving people who just want to live in safety.”

The reality is most likely the reverse of this narrative.

Why was Shireen assassinated?

Well, its quite simple really, from the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians during the Nakba which is commemorated every May 15, the day after “Israel” was created and the ethnic cleansing began in earnest, through Administrative detention, used to repress legitimate dissent and opposition to the occupation, to the abandonment of Palestinians to the refugee camps in order to control them, it is the broadcasters, journalists, photographers and eyewitnesses that the occupation also wants to control.

They want to control not only what Palestinians are allowed to do in their own country in their homes on their land and even in their mosques but they want to control what you and I outside of Palestine are allowed to see and hear.

Targeted assassination of journalists is as much a tool in the arsenal of the apartheid regime as ethnic cleansing house demolitions, Administrative detention, controlled movement, and murder.

Shireen was executed because she exposed the truth to the world of the brutality of “Israel”s continuing illegal occupation

She reported on house demolitions, peaceful protests, military house raids, and on the excesses of the Israeli Courts

She was a thorn in their side.

According to the Palestinian Union of Journalists 55 journalists have been murdered, executed by the IOF in Palestine from 2000 and many many more injured.

The press is regularly attacked, cameras are broken and journalists are assaulted.

There is no freedom in Palestine from the brutality of the repressive military occupation for any indigenous person.

Indeed international solidarity activists are also under threat, while walking children to school like the ecumenical accompaniers in Al-Khalil, to Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndell both International Solidarity members murdered by the Israeli regime.

There is a linear line that goes from 1901 through to 2022 that joins land, acquisition, ethnic cleansing, race riots, the partition of Palestine, the 1948 and 1967 Israeli wars of aggression, the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh.

It’s called Zionism.

It is a cancer that has invaded the body politics and society of WestAsia if not treated it will destroy the host.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Al-Naqab and Diyar Bir Al-Sab’…The social composition and the people

16 Jan2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Sabreen Al-A’sam

Although the Israeli occupation displaced a large portion of the people of Diyar Bir Al-Sab’ (al-Naqab) in 1948, these lands are still attributed to their owners, some of whom are descendants of tribes originating from the Arabian and Sinai peninsulas.

Some of Al-Naqab’s Bedouins are descendants from Bedouin tribes in the Arabian Peninsula

Diyar Bi’r Al-Sab’, otherwise known as the desert of Al-Naqab, comprises almost half the historical area of the land of Palestine, meaning close to 12,577,000 dunums (1 dunum ~ 1,000  square meters).

Although it’s called a desert, it actually isn’t one; yet, it is a mix of very fertile agricultural land, dry rocky mountainous lands, and sandy lands, and all of them have large amounts of groundwater, according to studies performed by Arab experts in the field, not to mention sizeable mineral riches found in the region.

This large area has been inhabited by Bedouins for hundreds of years, during which they owned title deeds that were written with legible legal wording since the days of the Ottoman Empire. The British mandate also issued them specific deeds that asserted their ownership of the lands. These vast lands are still attributed to their owners, those currently living there, or those displaced, as the Israeli occupation forcibly displaced a large number of them in the Nakba of 1948.

It also worked during the 1950s to forcibly displace a large number of the rest and concentrate them in an area called Al-Siyaj (the fence), robbing them of a large portion of their lands, which it later turned to a closed militarized zone, despite people still living there. The Bedouins were thus left with only 2% of their lands; still, Israeli occupation authorities try today to confiscate what little they have left, and forcibly remove them to ghettos that lack even the basic elements of a normal life.

Bedouin society: A sacred outlook on land

Al-Naqab’s Bedouins are former nomads that used to travel with their cattle according to the seasons from one area to another, each within the recognized boundaries of their lands, as Bedouin tribes have always respected others’ lands, which for them was something they held very sacred, like one’s honor. Later on, they became semi-nomads that lived on raising cattle and agriculture in unrecognized villages, while those who were forcibly concentrated in sedentary towns developed a more comfortable lifestyle, much like that of towns and cities. Still, people still raise cattle in these towns under very restricted conditions.

The Bedouin society is a traditional and conservative society. Some of Al-Naqab’s Bedouin tribes are descended from the Arabian peninsula’s bedouin tribes, and some from the Sinai peninsula’s. In Al-Naqab, a clan is a specific social unit, and the tribe is a grouping of clans that existed in Palestine before 1948, a small number of which remained after the Nakba. In Al-Naqab, clans are split into Rub’, the Rub’ into big families (Hama’el), and each big family split into smaller families.

Al-Naqab historian Dr. Mansour Al-Nasasirah says in his book Badw Al-Naqab wa Bir Al-Sab’ (The Bedouins of Al-Naqab and Bir Al-Sab’: 100 Years of Politics and Resistance) that out of 95 clans that existed in the south of Palestine during the British mandate, only 19 remained in Al-Naqab and Bir Al-Sab’ after the Nakba. These 19 were forcibly gathered after 1948 and taken directly to the Al-Siyaj area northeast of Bir Al-Sab’ until 1967. 

It should be said that the number 19 here goes back to the Israeli concept of the remains of the clans that were recognized, despite there being a much larger number of clans, but the idea was to group the ones that were left under these 19 in order to better control them after 1948. These were the clan leaders that Ben-Gurion’s government ‘acknowledged’.

Al-Nasasirah also clarifies that the policies that were applied against Al-Naqab’s Bedouins in the 1950s, after they were grouped in Al-Siyaj, included the separation of clans while keeping peaceful clans intact, forcefully ejecting clans that remained in the western and northern regions of Al-Naqab to Al-Siyaj, appointing new clan leaders, confiscating their lands by passing new laws, robbing them of their historical ownership, and conducting censuses that aim to keep them under strict observation at all times.

A systemic attack on Al-Naqab’s traditions

The people of Al-Naqab respect each other’s land ownership, even if they’re not registered on paper, and they are arbitrated in accordance with the binding Bedouin traditions and rulings in these matters. Land, just as one’s family, is considered something that cannot be assaulted or taken for granted. These traditions were, however, not listed in the rules of the occupation, especially in this period of time. Al-Naqab was a very neglected region for them, until the first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion drew attention to it and built his residence there, as he famously said “we wish to protect the desert in Al-Naqab, to protect the vacuum.”

Lastly, censuses show that the population of Al-Naqab is about 380,000, half of whom live in sedentary villages and the other half still steadfast in their villages – which the Israeli occupation authorities do not acknowledge – under living conditions that can be said at best to be unsuitable for human life and the modern way of living in the third millennium. They live in these villages without any infrastructure, water, electricity, schools, or infirmaries, in houses that are all made of tin that can neither protect them from the heat of summer nor from the cold of winter.

The Negev Intifada and Existential Danger.. Where will things go?
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