This year is of strong symbolic value to Israel: it marks the 70th year of its Declaration of Independence. For Palestinians, May 15 marks the Nakba Day, the catastrophe: the annual day of commemoration of the displacement of 68% of the Palestinian population that preceded and followed the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948.
The Great March of Return that started in Gaza at the end of March this year has not only been considered as a way to draw attention to the living conditions in Gaza, where currently more than 1,3 million Palestinian refugees live, but more importantly as a march for the right of return. This Great March characterizes the use of peaceful activism by Palestinian citizens since the early 2000s. These mobilizations aim to defend land rights, rights to resources, mobility through non-violence and sometimes innovative actions to attract international attention. In a time where Palestinian political movements – Fatah and Hamas – show great difficulties with federating the Palestinians, the latter find in this non-violent activism a common referent to their history.
Despite the international attention that the Nakba has received over the years, especially considering the recent deadly peaceful demonstrations in Gaza, Israel has not yet recognized the Nakba, nor their responsibility in 1948. The right of return for Palestine refugees is a right guaranteed by international law and enshrined in UN General Assembly resolution 194. Knowing that the displacement of Palestinians is still being practiced by Israel today in the West Bank and Gaza, the question of the ongoing Nakba needs to be addressed to achieve justice and peace in the region. The right for Palestinian refugees to return to their land must be the precondition for a dialogue for peaceful coexistence between Israel and Palestine.
To address the topic of the Nakba, we are happy to welcome Jihane Sfeir, historian and professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Specialized in the Modern Arab World and in the relations between Europe and the Arab World, she has published various texts and pieces of research about Palestinian refugees, with a particular focus on their situation in Lebanon.
The presentation will be followed by an open Q&A and discussion.
The Café Palestine team looks forward to seeing you at La Fleur en Papier Doré / Het Goudblommeke in Papier !
The events at "Het Goudblommeke in Papier" are organised with the support of vzw Geert van Bruaene.