Philadelphia Jews Say Israel’s 60th is No Time to Celebrate
Organizers Commemorate Palestinian Displacement at “Israel 60″ Parade and Festival
PHILADELPHIA, PA — On Sunday, May 18, 2008, anti-zionist Jews from across the Philadelphia area protested the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s “Israel 60 Parade and Festival” under the banner of “No Time to Celebrate.” Activists wore all black and held signs reading “60 years of Ethnic Cleansing – No Time to Celebrate” and “Philadelphia’s Jews Remember the Nakba.”
Activists lined the Israel 60 parade route and demonstrated their position of dissent from within the Jewish community. In addition to holding signs and chanting, the activists also held the image of Handala – the character created by Palestinian artist Naji Al-Ali who represents the struggle of Palestinian refugees. Protester Hannah Mermelstein explained, “The Nakba that began in 1948 continues today. Even thought the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia claims “one city, one celebration”, we are here to let participants and organizers of the Israel 60 Parade and Festival know that there has never been Jewish consensus around Israel. We support Palestinian people’s right to return, individually and collectively, to the homes they lost in 1948 and in the violent decades since then.”
The protestors brought attention to the history of Palestinian dispossession. While many in the world celebrate Israel 60, Palestinians around the world mourn 60 years since the Nakba – Arabic for “catastrophe” – of 1948. Sixty years ago, Zionist militias destroyed over 500 Palestinian villages and made more than 800,000 Palestinian people refugees in order to create a Jewish state in a land where the majority was not Jewish.
According to Israeli Human Rights organization B’Tselem, Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem are denied access to land, water, healthcare, and other basic resources. Palestinians throughout historic Palestine experience international isolation, economic devastation aided by the erection of a 730-kilometer wall, and continued closures and invasions including the siege of Gaza.
Another protester Adam Horowitz noted, “The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia does not speak for the entire Jewish community. We imagine “independence” and “freedom” outside the bounds of a state based on ethnic exclusivity and dispossession. This is no time to celebrate.
Public Banners Remember the Nakba
PHILADELPHIA, PA — On the mornings of May 18 and 20, 2008, Philadelphia drivers found messages hanging from several bridges leading into the city. Banners read, “Jews remember the Nakba,” “Ethnic cleansing is not a Jewish value,” “U.S. Jews mourn the Palestinian lives and land lost in 1948,” and “Jews say Israeli ‘independence’ = Palestinian dispossession.”