The "Nakba": A Driving Force Behind U.S. Anti-Israel Activity in 2008
Demonstrations Against Celebrations of Israel's 60th Anniversary
Posted: June 3, 2008
Demonstrations organized specifically to counter celebrations of Israel's 60th anniversary have been widespread. When Radio City Music Hall in New York hosted the kickoff "Israel@60 Celebration" on May 7, Al-Awda protested the event. Organizers of the protest called the event a celebration of a "legacy of oppression" and demonstrators were instructed to "counter and drown out the concert celebration of the Zionist state" because of an ongoing "genocide against Gaza and ethnic cleansing of Palestine."
A group of self-described anti-Zionist Jews called "No Time to Celebrate: Jews Remember the Nakba" also protested this event. They handed out fliers, carried a banner with the slogan "Jews Honor Palestinian Resistance" and held up signs that listed different Palestinian villages with the words "Jews remember" scrawled on the top.
The group, which formed specifically to protest Israel@60 celebrations and to promote "Nakba" commemorative events, has protested several other celebrations of Israel's 60th anniversary around the country. These include a speech by Alan Dershowitz at Rutgers University on May 8 and a celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco also on May 8. At that event, twenty protesters interrupted the program and were arrested for trespassing.
In Seattle, the Al-Nakba Coalition protested an event on May 7 celebrating Israel's 60th, organizing its supporters to conduct a silent procession that would serve to "witness not only to the bloodshed and the terror that accompanied the founding of Israel, but also to the ongoing human rights tragedy that has resulted from the events surrounding the 1948 war and from Israel 's continuing occupation of Palestinian land." Protesters carried masks, coffins and banners to further illustrate their message of alleged "Israeli terror."
In Los Angeles, Al-Awda, International Action Center (IAC), the National Council of Arab Americans (NCA) and the Campaign to End the Israeli Apartheid (CEIA) were among several groups that organized a protest of an Israel@60 celebration at the Kodak Theater on May 10. The event announcement urged participants "to mark sixty years of Nakba; to demand an end to US support of Zionist oppression; and to demand an end to Zionism!" At the protest, speakers accused Israel of being an agent of US imperialism, of illegal occupation and of practicing genocide and ethnic cleansing.
The Philadelphia Al Nakba Coalition protested a celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary on May 18. Protesters chanted "Occupation is a Crime! Free Palestine!" and released black balloons into the air. This protest was the conclusion of the Coalition's planned 60 days of action to correspond to 60 years of the "Nakba." According to an announcement for the protest, its intent was to "cast a shadow of mourning" on the Israel celebration.
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO) has also engaged in efforts to discredit celebrations of Israel's 60th Anniversary. The group placed 1000 posters about the "Nakba" along the route of the "Salute to Israel" parade in NYC, which took place on June 1. Josh Ruebner, the national advocacy director of US Campaign, described the Campaign's goal thusly: "Participants in the Salute to Israel Parade will see our ads and be forced to confront the reality which they deny, namely, that Israel's continued existence as a Jewish state is only possible by refusing Palestinian refugees' their right of return home" and "that the establishment of Israel in 1948 was accompanied by the widespread and purposeful ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes and lands."