Grief is a powerful emotion, as you likely know. No matter where one falls politically, there is likely grief associated with this day - Yom Ha’atzma’ut, commonly translated of Day of Independence (for the State of Israel), or as I might translate it, Day of Self-Determination, Day of Pressing One’s Eyes Shut, Day of Shows of Strength, Day of Boniness.
Grief might be associated with this day because of what preceded the State of Israel’s declaration of independence: antisemitism, attempted genocide, displacement, theft, rejection, isolation, and more. Grief might be associated with this day because of what came next: Nakba, destruction, theft, attempted genocide, displacement, isolation, rejection, and more.
At the event last night on Building Solidarity Beyond the Headlines at Cherry St. Village, where I spent only a moment, I picked up a flier about a Nakba Day community gathering,rally and march starting at Cal Anderson Park on Saturday, May 13 at noon. The last line on the flier is “channel your grief into action.” I honor the grief the organizers of this event feel, have felt, and perhaps see no end to feeling. And today I recommit to honoring my role in solidarity in healing grief.
While today is the Jewish calendar commemoration of Yom Ha'atzma'ut, tomorrow’s Jewish calendar date, which in 1948 aligned with May 15 and is commemorated in Palestinian communities on that date, is the 75 commemoration of an-Nakba - the Catastrophe.
Can we hold both this week? Can we acknowledge that today 75 years ago was a turning point for Jewish Zionist leaders who were actualizing what was promised them from international powers, from Jewish tradition, and from their own determination to liberate themselves from European Christian antisemitism? And can we acknowledge that tomorrow 75 years ago was a turning point in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were forced off their land, murdered, and forced into exile? And for the project of Palestine as a whole? I do not quote wikipedia often, but here is what it says about Nakba¹:
The foundational events of the Nakba took place during and shortly after the 1948 Palestine war, including 78% of Mandatory Palestine being declared as Israel, the exodus of 700,000 Palestinians, the related depopulation and destruction of over 500 Palestinian villages and subsequent geographical erasure, the denial of the Palestinian right of return, the creation of permanent Palestinian refugees and the "shattering of Palestinian society".
In the middle of this week of Tiferet, can we rely on this midah.characteristic of balance to keep us upright? To keep us seeing beauty? To keep us connected both to Jacob/Israel whom this midah is connected and to Ishmael and Hagar who find a life in a city (Pa’ran) which shares a root with it? Can we remain loving (chesed) and strong (gevurah) as we face these truths and others? So much so that we too can be moved from grief to action? May it be so. May it be so for all of us.
¹References used in this wikipedia paragraph include:
- Masalha, Nur (9 August 2012). The Palestine Nakba: Decolonising History, Narrating the Subaltern, Reclaiming Memory. Zed Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84813-973-2. Archived from the original on 14 January 2023. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Dajani, Omar (2005). "Surviving Opportunities". In Tamara Wittes Cofman (ed.). How Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate: A Cross-cultural Analysis of the Oslo Peace Process. US Institute of Peace Press. ISBN 978-1-929223-64-0. Archived from the original on 14 January 2023. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Sa'di, Ahmad H.; Abu-Lughod, Lila (2007). Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-13579-5.
- Khalidi, Rashid I. (1992). "Observations on the Right of Return". Journal of Palestine Studies. 21 (2): 29–40. doi:10.2307/2537217. JSTOR 2537217.