Seventy years of the Nakba

This edition is necessary – to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, when more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes, but also the ongoing, devastating occupation of Palestine.

As Zoe Samudzi pointed out this morning, it is impossible to see the images coming out of occupied Palestine and to not think of Apartheid South Africa; of the brutality of a government that attempts to displace, extinguish and erase all existence of a people who complicate a state narrative.

In the last 48 hours we have seen more state-sanctioned violence against the Palestinian people and struggle. Even as Israel’s streets flooded with jingoistic celebrations of the US embassy planting itself in East Jerusalem, and others a Eurovision win, the IDF murdered at least 58 Gazans protesting at the barrier fence, and injured several thousand more.

Since the Great March of Return began six weeks ago – a protest Elliot Dolan-Evans describes in this edition as the ‘collective desire of Palestinian refugees trapped in Gaza to return to their historic homelands’ – +972 reports that ‘101 Palestinians have been killed and well over 10,000 wounded, many maimed for life’.

The Gaza Strip has been referred to by Amira Hass as a ‘concentration camp’, and by historian Ilan Pappe as ‘incremental genocide’, but the occupation extends beyond that space. As an open letter in the Guardian today observed:

There are now 750,000 Israeli settlers on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Palestinians in the West Bank live under an oppressive apartheid system, face demolition of their houses and uprooting of their olive trees, while the settlements expand unchecked.

One of the most distressing things about an occupation is not simply the barbarism, or the daily humiliation of being herded through endless checkpoints or the imprisonment of dissenters and children, or the kangaroo courts; it is that there are seemingly no consequences for the occupying state.

From the distance of Australia – another violent settler colonial state – we watch as a people robbed of everything from homes to agency to passports to resources to medical care to freedom, use everything that’s left to stand up to the might of the imperialist military might of Israel.

These are people protesting their right to return to their home, to not be kept in a prison camp, for the right to peace, and for the right to a free Palestine that is governed by Palestinians.

And so we must do more than bear witness: we must speak up, we must publicly condemn, we must publish against, we must put an end to this occupation – we must support the resistance of Palestinians, as we support all anti-colonial struggles.

As Frantz Fanon wrote late in his life, about the fight against the brutality of colonialism: ‘We are nothing on this earth if we do not first and foremost serve a cause, the cause of the people, the cause of freedom and justice.’



This is part of a special edition marking seventy years of occupation in Palestine. Read the rest of the edition:

– ‘Indigenous there, settlers here: Palestinians in Australia’ – Tasnim Sammak

– ‘Language, law and laudateurs: understanding the response to the Great March of Return’ – Elliot Dolan-Evans

– ‘A history of Palestinian dispossession’ – Lana Tatour

– ‘Reconciling the Nakba’ – Na’ama Carlin

Jacinda Woodhead

Jacinda Woodhead is a former editor of Overland and current law student.

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Sian Vate

Sian Vate is the deputy editor of Overland and works for United Voice Union. She has previously worked as a radio presenter and as a student campaigner. Her poetry has appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, otoliths, The Age and Artichoke. Her chapbook end motion / manifest was published by Bulky News Press in 2015.

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Rasheeda Wilson

Rasheeda Wilson is a Melbourne-based writer and currently studies Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) at RMIT University. She writes poetry and is a regular contributor to In Review. She is currently Overland’s editorial intern.

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