The Nakba, or "day of catastrophe," remains the central issue of struggle for the Palestinian people. Commemorated each May 15th, the Nakba began in May 1948 when the State of Israel was founded on Palestinian lands, leading to the forcible expulsion of 75% of the indigenous population. Today, over 5 million Palestinian refugees remain in refugee camps in countries around the world, unable to return to their land and homes. They are the oldest and largest refugee population in the world.
With the announcement, just one day before the Nakba, that Israel has settled with hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike, we reflect on 64 years of Israeli occupation—and Palestinian resistance—with a survey of Verso's responses to this struggle.
Writing in the Independent, Avi Shlaim, author of Israel and Palestine, argues that Barack Obama must stand up to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Nayanyahu, not only to save the fragile stability of the Middle East, but to protect the interests of the United States, and his own credibility as leader of the free world.
Shlaim describes Netanyahu's government as the most "aggressively right-wing, diplomatically intransigent, and overtly racist" in Israel's history, and Netanyahu himself as "a bellicose, right-wing Israeli nationalist, a rejectionist on the subject of Palestinian national rights, and a reactionary who is deeply wedded to the status quo."
The bookshop at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem is known worldwide for being the best place to buy English-language bookshops in Israel or Palestine. Its owner Munther Fahmi has run the bookshop for 13 years, but now faces deportation despite being born in Jerusalem. In addition to the injustice of this, the closure of the bookshop would impoverish the cultural life of Jerusalem, and to debate and dissent in Israel. Please sign the petition to stop Munther being deported.
Munther Fahmi is a well-known figure in Jerusalem's diplomatic community and among the city's foreign press corps. A visit to his small bookstore at the American Colony Hotel is a must for anyone seeking to immerse himself in the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Among his many and well-known patrons are ambassadors, authors and politicians, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
But it appears all the connections in the world are no match for Israel's Interior Ministry, which is now seeking to have Fahmi deported.
Avi Shlaim responds to Raja Shehadeh's Palestinian perspective in the Guardian feature in which leading writers from across the Arab world reflect on the Tunisia protests. Shlaim, author of Israel and Palestine, urges us to remember Palestine:
Your 10 Arab writers gave voice to the wave of optimism that is sweeping through their countries in the wake of the peaceful revolution in Tunisia ("After Tunisia", 29 January). It was melancholy to note, however, that Raja Shehadeh, the Palestinian lawyer and writer, cannot share in this optimism. While the rest of the Arab world is at long last moving towards participatory democracy, a police state is emerging in Palestine with active western support.