On Nakba anniversary: Global protests show solidarity with Palestine

To mark the 75th anniversary of Nakba (The Disaster), global protests took place this past weekend. The actions commemorate the day, when on May 15, 1948, the new Zionist state of Israel began its brutal removal of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian people from their rightful lands. This genocide continues today with beatings, murders and jailings of Palestinians — with U.S. backing in the billions of dollars. 

An estimated 4 million Palestinians have been relegated to refugee status. At least 78% of their lands have been confiscated by a racist occupation, reminiscent of apartheid South Africa and the wholesale theft of the Indigenous Americas. 

In two cities on the occupied West Bank May 14, 2023, thousands of Palestinians commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Nakba or Day of Catastrophe when in May 1948, hundreds of thousands of their people were forcibly displaced from their homes and land. In Bethlehem, the crowd held torches, and in Ramallah, thousands waving Palestinian flags participated in a rally.

The Palestinian people continue to carry out an heroic resistance with strikes, protests, boycotts and an armed struggle inside Israel and in the Occupied Territories, especially Gaza and the West Bank. Palestinians around the world marked the Nakba, including in Bethlehem and Ramallah on the occupied West Bank, where thousands waving flags rallied May 14 and protested Israeli oppression and murderous repression.

‘Not just a singular event’

In London on May 13, thousands of people were in the streets demanding an end to apartheid and occupation in Palestine. The march began in front of BBC headquarters and ended at the office of the prime minister.

London, May 13, 2023. (Photo: Anadolu Agency)

Leanne Mohammed, a British Palestinian activist, stated: “The Nakba was not just a singular event, today we are still living the effect of the Nakba. Seventy-five years ago my family was expelled from their home in Haifa, Palestine, by Zionist militias. They ended up as refugees in Lebanon. Three-quarters of a century later, they are still living in that same refugee camp.” (middleeasteye.net, May 14)

Protests took place in Vienna, Paris, Dublin, Montreal, Toronto, and many other cities in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

New York City, May 14, 2023. (WW Photo: Toni Arenstein)

In the U.S., Nakba protests were held in numerous cities including Boston; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle. In New York City on May 14, a rally began at Times Square, and then protesters marched to Grand Central Station in full view of thousands of passersby. Palestinian youth were in the forefront leading the chants. 

Richie Merino, who spoke on behalf of Workers World Party, stated: “We’re here today to honor the courage and bravery of Palestinian youth, who are united in fighting for liberation despite being dispersed across the globe. We condemn Zionist and white-supremacist forces for executing children and youth in Occupied Palestine and harassing and intimidating Palestinian students right here in New York City.

“We are also here to demand freedom for all Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli occupation jails. Thousands of Palestinians, including youth, are imprisoned for their resistance against Zionist colonialism. We know that it is right to rebel against Israeli war crimes and terrorism. When Palestine is under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight Back!”

Organized by the Philly Palestine Coalition, the “Nakba Day 75 — Rally and March Against Israeli Apartheid” in Philadelphia drew around 200 people on a rainy afternoon May 13. They gathered at Rittenhouse Square and then marched to the Sister Cities site in Logan Square, where speakers criticized Philadelphia’s designation as a sister city to Tel Aviv, which was named Jaffa before the Zionist displacement took place.

Philadelphia, May 13, 2023. (WW Photo: Joe Piette)

Participants then continued chanting and marching in the street on the way to the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, where a final rally took place.

Hundreds of demonstrators took over 16th and Valencia streets in the San Francisco Mission neighborhood May 13 to demand an end to the bombing of Gaza and to support the Palestinian resistance. The action was organized by the Palestine Action Network.

San Francisco, May 13, 2023. (WW Photo: Judy Greenspan)

On the back of a flatbed truck, young Palestinian, Filipino and Latiné activists led chants and directed this dynamic rally to free Palestine. 

Speakers from the Palestinian Youth Movement, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, the Anti-Police Terror Project, and the League of Filipino Students from San Francisco State University exposed Israel’s genocidal acts against the Palestinian people and delivered strong statements of international solidarity.

The large protest marched defiantly in the streets, up Mission Street, the heart of the Latiné community, chanting “Escucha, escucha, estamos en la lucha!” (Listen, listen, we’re in the fight!) And people in the streets did listen and responded with fists in the air, waves and cheers.   

The march ended where it began, with the defiant crowd cheering after the Israeli flag, the flag of the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homeland, was set on fire.

Contributors to this article include Judy Greenspan, Richie Merino and Joe Piette.

Monica Moorehead


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Monica Moorehead

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