Originally published at Common Dreams
Human rights defenders on Monday hailed a “historic” U.S. House of Representatives resolution introduced by Rep. Rashida Tlaib and six progressive co-sponsors recognizing the Nakba, the ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestinians perpetrated by the founders of Israel and their descendants pursuing territorial conquest and living space.
Tlaib (D-Mich.)—who is the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress—on Monday introduced a House Resolution Recognizing the Nakba and Palestinian Refugees’ Rights to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe.” The measure is co-sponsored by Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Marie Newman (D-Ill.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
“The Nakba is well-documented and continues to play out today,” Tlaib tweeted. “We must acknowledge that the humanity of Palestinians is being denied when folks refuse to acknowledge the war crimes and human rights violations in apartheid Israel.”
“Silence and blank checks enable more violence,” she added, referring to the billions of dollars in practically unconditional military aid given by the U.S. to Israel each year.
Nadia Saah, director of the advocacy group Project48, said in a statement that “with this historic resolution, Rep. Tlaib and her colleagues have given a voice to Palestinian Nakba survivors and their descendants who have been living in exile and denied the right to return to their homes for 74 years.”
“By calling on the U.S. government to commemorate the Nakba and address the historic and ongoing injustice of land theft and the displacement of Palestinian families, they are paving ground towards a durable future rooted in justice, equality, and return,” she added.
Sana Siddiq, manager of policy and advocacy campaigns at the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said that her group is “proud to endorse Congresswoman Tlaib’s principled Nakba Day resolution.”
“To acknowledge the historic and ongoing injustice of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people is a vital first step,” she added. “By recognizing this history, we can shift U.S. foreign policy toward justice and accountability.”
The new resolution acknowledges the expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinian Arabs from hundreds of cities, towns, and villages—sometimes by massacre, “death march”, and other violence—during the formation of the modern state of Israel in 1947 to 1949, as well as the plight of the seven million Palestinian refugees denied the right of return guaranteed under United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194. The measure stands in stark contrast with Israeli legislation criminalizing commemoration of the Nakba.
Tlaib tied the events of 1947-49 with the continuing oppression of Palestinians by Israel, which in addition to illegally occupying and colonizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem stands accused by international, Israeli, and Palestinian human rights groups of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes.
“As the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh last week made all too clear, the violence and war crimes are an ongoing and ever-present assault on the existence and humanity of the Palestinian people,” Tlaib said in a statement referring to the well-known Palestinian-American Al Jazeera correspondent who was fatally shot in the face last week while covering an Israeli military raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the illegally occupied West Bank.
“The Israeli apartheid government’s ongoing ethnic cleansing seeks to degrade Palestinian humanity and break the will of the people to be free,” Tlaib added. “Fortunately, as Palestinians and their allies prove time and time again, we will persist no matter the circumstances until peace, freedom, equity, and respect for all people are secured and protected.”
Osama Abuirshaid, executive director for Americans for Justice in Palestine Action, asserted that “for more than 74 years, the international community has failed the Palestinian people and denied them their legitimate and inalienable rights.”
“For 74 years, the United States colluded with the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people, enabling Israel to defy all human, moral, and legal values,” he continued. “The time has come for the United States to correct an ongoing historical mistake it committed by recognizing the Palestinian Nakba, and to pressure Israel to respect American values that call for justice, equality, and freedom for all.”
“It is no longer acceptable for Israel to continue to defy binding international resolutions and humanitarian values aided and abetted by the U.S.,” he added. “Enough of 74 years of occupation, displacement, and double standards. The Palestinian people deserve the right for self-determination, the Israeli apartheid must no longer enjoy impunity and the U.S. must live up to the values it holds dear.”
Stefanie Fox, executive director of the advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace Action, said that “in order to build a future rooted in justice and freedom for all, we must reckon with the destruction and permanent displacement Palestinians suffered in 1948 in the name of creating the state of Israel.”
“Without addressing the Nakba and the ongoing attempts by the Israeli government to continue displacing Palestinians to this day, there cannot be a truly just and sustainable peace,” she added. “Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s historic resolution is a step toward the sacred work of tikkun olam—of repairing the world—so we can all be free.”