New England Commemorates the Nakba

May 20, 2007




Press release: For immediate release

From: New England Commemorates the Nakba

Report on today’s Protest and NAKBA commemoration at Gillette Stadium

On Sunday May 20th several carloads of non-violent protestors headed to Foxboro to voice their support for Palestinians at the Israeli day celebration taking place at Gillette Stadium.

At 2:30 PM, 40 to 50 protestors in the Field House unraveled two banners. One declared:

Israeli “Independence” = Palestinian Dispossession

and the other said:

Palestinian Refugees
1948 -
2007 -
6 Million +
Right of Return for all Refugees

The protestors, wearing black tee-shirts, peacefully and silently commemorated the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) and voiced support for those Palestinians who were driven from their homes in 1948 by Zionist forces in order to create the Jewish state. Seventy-eight out of the 531 Palestinian villages that were eliminated were remembered through stickers on the black tee-shirts.

“New England Celebrates Israel” celebrants were not as peaceful and silent. They tried to block the banners with their bodies so that no other celebrants could see the messages. One celebrant attempted to tear a banner. Police prevented the tearing of the banner and escorted the protestors out of the Dana Farber Field Field House for their safety.

Previously dubbed “Boston Celebrates Israel”, the celebration of Israel Independence Day has been taking place in Boston for years. For the past five years, however, Palestinians and their supporters have organized protests to bring attention to the fact that Israel’s celebration is the Palestinian’s Nakba (or catastrophe). These protests have forced the event organizers to downscale the celebration, move it to Foxboro, and rename it “New England Celebrates Israel”. In addition, the organizers forced participants to show ID and register prior to entering.

Three quarters of the Palestinian population was expelled in 1948 and 531 of their villages destroyed. Today, these Palestinian refugees and their descendents number more than six million and are displaced throughout the world while Israel ignores UN resolutions which call for their right of return.

Our message to celebrators and to the wider New England community:
As US taxpayers we say, “NOT WITH OUR MONEY!”
Those of us who are Jewish say, “NOT IN OUR NAME!”

As people who care about equality and justice we say, "NOT ON OUR WATCH!"


We are here today to commemorate the expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homeland and to protest this celebration of Israel’s Independence Day. We stand here to remind those inside and those in our larger New England community that Israeli “independence” equals Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe.

We are a diverse group of people who support the application of human rights for all people. We are painfully aware that the establishment of a Jewish state in 1948 led to the largest and most persistent refugee problem in the world. In 1948, 800,000 Palestinian people were driven from their homes in a process of ethnic cleansing that continues to this day.

Today, almost 60 years later, more than 6 million Palestinians still wait to return home. Three quarters of the Palestinian population are displaced. One out of every 3 refugees in the world is Palestinian. Many live in refugee camps. All are denied the right to return to their land simply because they are not Jewish.

The right of return for refugees is an international law that applies to all refugee populations in the world. The United Nations has reaffirmed this right specifically for Palestinian people every year since 1948, yet the Israeli government has consistently refused to implement this right. Billions of dollars of US aid give Israel little incentive to conform to international standards of law and justice.

Those of us who are Jewish say, “Not in our name!” The organized Jewish community that has planned this event does not speak for us.

As US taxpayers we say, “Not with our money!” The 15 million dollars PER DAY that the US government gives to Israel does not reflect our desires or our priorities.

As people who care about equality, justice, and human rights, we say, "Not on our watch!" Israel must respect international law, including the right of return for refugees.

We are here today to declare that Palestinian experience cannot be forgotten, that Palestinian history cannot be erased, that Palestinian voices cannot be silenced! Never again should this kind of catastrophe happen to any people in the world.

And we are here to let the organizers of this event know that they will never be able to celebrate the establishment of the state of Israel without protest until the Nakba is acknowledged and reparations are made.

Minneapolis commemorates the Nakba

May 17, 2007

Al Nakba Day Recognition
Minneapolis, MN

On Tuesday, May 15, 2007 in front of the Minneapolis Central Library at 12:00pm, members of JFAETTO (Jews For An End To The Occupation) joined the international commemoration of Al Nakba Day. Just as in other cities in the U.S. and Israel, we mapped out a grid and outline of the state of Israel and Occupied Territories and asked passersby to help us put the names of the 531 Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948 back on the map.

After one hour of setting up the event, we were stopped by library security officers for "Defacing Library Property" with sidewalk chalk and electrical tape. Not letting this deter us, we moved our event across the street and recreated the map. Over a span of 4 hours, we spoke to around 70 people who placed 100 Palestinian villages on the map. Many people who we asked to help us, did. Those that stopped showed interest and appreciation for a creative way to share important information. A group of high school students stayed for 15 minutes to ask questions and put villages on the map. We were overwhelmed by the support from Minneapolis bus drivers who asked questions en route, and yelled variations of, "Keep up the fight!" as they passed.

Philadelphia commemorates the Nakba

May 15, 2007

One of a series of banners hung over bridges where people would see them on their way to an "Israel in our hearts" event (May 6, 2007):

From a vigil in downtown Philadelphia (May 15, 2007):

San Francisco remembers the Nakba

May 15, 2007

Boston Commemorates the Nakba

May 13, 2007
Boston Common

On Sunday, May 13, 2007, Boston residents and visitors walking through Boston Commons were met with an unusual site: a large map of pre-1948 Palestine chalked on the ground on top of a grid of coordinates. This Tuesday, May 15, marks the 59th anniversary of Palestinian dispossession, and is a painful reminder to people worldwide that the number of Palestinian refugees from 1948 - 800,000 - has now become more than 6 million, and that these refugees are still waiting to return to their villages and their homeland.

As the afternoon progressed, so did the map. Passersby wrote names of Palestinian villages that were destroyed or depopulated on index cards and taped them on the appropriate spots on the map. By the end of the day, we had placed about 100 of the 531 villages, enough to begin to see areas that were more and less populated, to begin to see the outline of the West Bank, to begin to see the patterns of ethnic cleansing that took place particularly around major cities like Jaffa and Jerusalem.

Some people were upset with the activity, stopping to argue politics. Many people walked past (either around the map or over it) without stopping at all. But a large number of people also stopped, either to engage with organizers about the activity or simply to read the names of the villages.

1. Preparing the map.
2. A young boy places a depopulated village on the giant map.
3. A written description.
4. Visitors writing village names on cards before placing them.
5. A passerby walks by the map.
6. A young girl compares Massachusetts and Native Americans with the new info she just learned about Palestine and the Palestinians!!
7. Placing northern villages.

Zochrot's Nakba Day Statement

Statement on the Nakba and the Right of Return
International Nakba Day, May 15, 2007


The Nakba is the story of the Palestinian tragedy: the destruction of communities, civilization, culture and identity, the expulsion and the killing that took place in 1948. It is a story that constitutes the past and present of the Palestinian people and shapes a large part of Palestinian identity. Yet in many respects the Nakba is also the story of Jews who live in Israel. A story that is not easy to cope with, a story that raises difficult questions about the possibilities of life together in the space that is today the state of Israel.

It is almost impossible to speak about the Nakba without speaking about taking responsibility and repairing the historical injustice that was committed against the Palestinian people. Such repair must begin first and foremost with the recognition of the right of Palestinians to return.

What is the right of return? The right of return is the personal right of every refugee who was expelled from the country, and their descendants, to return to their place of origin, based on international law and UN Resolution 194 passed on December 11, 1948. It is also the collective right of whole communities to return and live as a community, as a group, to carry out a social framework in shared spaces such as cultural centers, religious places, schools, recreational areas. The right of return is an individual and collective right.

Who is considered a refugee? A question that frequently arises is: how many generations of descendants will be considered candidates for return? The most moral and logical answer is that the refugees will cease to be refugees when they are given the opportunity to choose whether or not to return. The right of return does not mean only physical return, but the option to make an unhindered choice — the ability to choose that makes a person free.

What about Jews in Israel? Acknowledgment and implementation of the right of return will not only begin the task of correcting the historical injustice committed against the Palestinian people, but may also usher in a new beginning for Jews in the country. The right of return can open up an opportunity for Jews to encounter the country in a new way, no longer as occupiers, but as equals. An injustice cannot be corrected by another injustice, and the right of return, like any other right, must be implemented with care to ensure that other rights are protected.

Organize an event!

Organize a Nakba Day commemoration event!

Join activists around the world in remembering the Nakba and reminding people that May 15 is not only Israeli Independence Day... here's a simple, interactive, powerful action you can organize in your city - Zochrot, an Israeli activist organization, has already created it, we just need YOU to put it on - please take a look at this activist toolkit:

If you are interested PLEASE click below on "comments" and post one to us. Include your email address and we will help you get your action organized... also we can let you know if someone else in your city is already organizing one! Your email address will NOT be made public.

What is the Nakba?

The following comes from Zochrot, an Israeli organization dedicated to commemorating the Nakba, from

In the Zionist collective memory, Palestine of 1948 was 'a land without a people, for a people without a land.' Yet, the place where Israel was founded was never empty. This was home to almost one million Palestinians living in over 700 villages and cities, most of which were depopulated and renamed in the period during and immediately following 1948. The Palestinians who were expelled during the Nakba have since grown to become the largest refugee population in the world. In addition, within Israel a quarter of a million Palestinians live as 'internally dispaced' refugees - citizens in their country but defined by law as 'absentees,' denied the right to their land, homes and property.

The Nakba is the central, unspoken trauma at the core of the Israel/Palestine conflict. Bringing the Nakba to light, and undoing its ongoing injustice, is essential to achieving reconciliation between all the peoples of this land.