The flame still burns

Palestinians wave their national flag and hold banners as they demonstrate at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, on May 15, 2014, to mark the 66th anniversary of the Nakba, or "catastrophe" of the Jewish state's creation.(AFP PHOTO/ AHMAD GHARABLI)

On the 66th commemoration of the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were violently forced out of their homes and off their land, it is more vital than ever that the world remembers what created such a tragedy, and how the issue is not going to disappear any time soon.

For Israel and its allies certainly wished that the small issue of an entire people and their millions of descendants being rendered stateless would simply fade away over time, that the world might suffer from collective amnesia and forget that a place called “Palestine” ever existed.

Unfortunately for the Jewish state – for that is how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now attempting to define the country – that has not happened. Each successive generation of Palestinians has become more committed to the right of return, and the right to a homeland. And increasingly, the international community, or at least leftist strands within it, is becoming more inclined to sympathize with the Palestinian cause.

Through wars – of brutal violence and also wars of words – Israel has attempted to wipe away the Palestinian people, just as the Nazis tried to wipe away the Jews, an atrocity whose legacy left much of Europe with a guilt complex so deep that it believed the creation of Israel in a land already inhabited by another people was legitimate.

The creation of Israel was also made possible with the collusion of certain Arab states, and this too must not be forgotten. But the Palestinian flame is strong, and it will remain so until the freedoms and rights to which the Palestinians are entitled are won.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 16, 2014, on page 7.




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