Palestine: The Return of “Return” (and Jerusalem)

In the lead-up to May 15, a key date in the history of the Palestinians’ ongoing “Nakba” (catastrophe) and the date– 70 years ago, in 1948– of the establishment of the State of Israel, grassroots organizations in Gaza and other parts of Palestine have been engaging in a six-week-long action called “The Great March of Return.” The aim of the action– as described in The Nation by one of its originators, Ahmad Abu Rtemah– has been “to reclaim our right to live in freedom and justice.”

The Great March seems to be being organized in a way similar to the weekly nonviolent mass actions that have been maintained in Bil’in, Nabi Saleh, and some other threatened West Bank villages for many years now. In those villages, each Friday after noon-time prayers, the population gathers to undertake some kind of a nonviolent mass activity– often, with very creative themes, and always designed¬† to encourage the participation of families and, where possible, sympathetic visitors. In Gaza, the Great March was launched on Friday, March 30, which was the 42nd anniversary of the original “Land Day” protest in the north of what is currently Israel, on March 30, 1976. On that day, Palestinian citizens of Israel held a nonviolent gathering to protest the expropriation by the state of some of their ancestral lands–and six of them were shot dead by the Israeli security forces.

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