This column follows up on Tom Mayer's column "Remembering the Nakba" in the Colorado Daily last week.
As Tom pointed out, actions by Zionist forces created 700,000 to 800,000 Palestinian refugees in 1948 and systematically destroyed about 500 Palestinian villages. These refugees fled into surrounding states as well as into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Many of these refugees thought that once the fighting ended, they would be able to return to their homes.
In fact, the December 1948 U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 said that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be allowed to return at the earliest possible date. In addition, compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property. Israel's admission to the U.N. was contingent on its acceptance and implementation of this resolution as well as the original U.N. Partition Plan resolution.
Shamefully, after 68 years, Israel still hasn't implemented these resolutions. In addition, Israel's 1967 attack on its neighbors created approximately another 300,000 Palestinian refugees. These 1948 and 1967 refugees and their descendants now number close to 5 million people.
The mainstream U.S. media has provided little coverage of the horrific plight of these refugees. A 2010 BBC report provides more information about Palestinians living in exile.
U.S. media also provided little coverage on the treatment of the Arabs who remained inside Israel after 1948. Although Israeli laws essentially require equal treatment, Arab Israelis, about 20 percent of the Israeli population, are treated as second-class citizens. For example, in 2008 then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert criticized what he called "deliberate and insufferable" discrimination against Arabs at the hands of the Israeli establishment.
Palestinians, including many refugees living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, face far worse conditions than Arab Israelis. And Palestinians under the illegal Israeli siege of Gaza struggle just to survive.
Mariam Fathalla, a Nakba survivor, will be in Colorado for presentations, the first at 7 p.m. May 19 at the Boulder Mennonite Church, 3910 Table Mesa Drive just east of the Broadway intersection. Another on May 20 will include refreshments at 6 p.m. and presentation at 7 at the First Universalist Church of Denver, 4101 East Hampden Ave., northeast corner of Hampden and Colorado Boulevard.
A donation of $10 is requested at both events. For more information, call Carolyn Bninski at 720-509-3378.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.