Palestine Nakba 64 Years Later

By Jamal Kanj

Each year on May 15 Palestinians commemorate the Nakba or Catastrophe. On that May Day, Palestine ceased to exist from the world’s map and 85 percent of its natives were evicted from their historical homes and villages.

The expulsion of Palestinians was part of Zionism’s early obsession with creating a nation with a Jewish majority. Their increasing preoccupation with changing the population demography in Palestine was envisaged by the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in the late 1800s. In his writings in 1896 Herzl, founder of WZO foretold expelling “… the poor [native] population across the border unnoticed.”

Immediately following the UN’s vote to divide Palestine between native inhabitants and European immigrants, Israel’s founder Ben-Gurion declared before the Central Committee of the Histadrut− the Eretz Israel Workers Party− in December 1947 that the UN vote makes “the total population of the Jewish State at the time of its establishment… almost 40% non-Jews. There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60%.” 

Newly released secret Israeli archives have revealed that under the leadership of the “Transfer Committee,” Zionist paramilitary organizations waged conscientious terrorist campaign to fulfill the vision of a “strong Jewish state.”

The Transfer Committee led by the first Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion, consciously or unconsciously, assigned Hebrew names tantamount to ethnic cleansing for their military operations: matateh (broom), tihur (cleansing), biur (a Passover expression meaning “to cleanse the leaven”) and niku (a Hebrew word for cleaning up).

Joseph Weitz− head of the National Jewish Fund in the 1940s− outlined the plan in his diary “Not one village must be left, not one tribe. The transfer must be directed at Iraq, Syria, and even Transjordan.”

Investigating Transfer Committee’s declassified documents for his book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” Israeli historian Ilan Pappé references a solemn quote from Ben Gurion’s diary “We need to harm them without mercy, women and children included. Otherwise, this is not an effective reaction. During the operation there is no need to distinguish between guilty and not guilty.”

Zionism’s terror campaign resulted in the forced eviction of 805,067 Palestinians, razing 531 indigenous villages and the seizure of 92 per cent of the land. It is worth noting that more than fifty per cent (413,790) of the refugees were displaced while Palestine was ostensibly a British protectorate.

Approximately 150,000 Palestinians who remained on what became Israel had to apply for citizenship in the new state; natives who failed to register were considered trespassers. 

A renowned “trespasser” was Palestinian poet Mahmood Darwish who when accused by an immigrant military judge of being illegal, he retorted: God gave me birth on this land before your state was born at the UN. 

In analyzing Palestinian refugees after 1948, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official document projected that “The most adaptable and best survivors would ‘manage’ by a process of natural selection… Some will die but most will turn into human debris and social outcasts… in the Arab countries.”

Today, the endurance of these refugees continues to prove the fallacy of Israel’s prophecy sixty four years earlier. For Palestinians have remained part of a nation, but without the state− or as aptly depicted by Israeli writer Danny Rubinstein:
“Every people in the world lives in a place. For Palestinians, the place lives in them.”

– Jamal Kanj writes frequently on Arab World issues and the author of “Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America”, Garnet Publishing, UK. Jamal’s articles can be read at He contributed this article to Contact him at:

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