From QuestionIsrael, 20 May 2007
On Sunday May 20th, several carloads of non-violent protesters headed to Foxboro to voice their support for Palestinians at the Israeli day celebration taking place at Gillette Stadium.
At 2:30 PM, 40 to 50 protestors in the Field House unraveled two banners.
Israeli “Independence” = Palestinian Dispossession
and the other said:
1948 – 800,000
2007 – 6 Million +
Right of Return for all Refugees
Video by Mazin Qumsiyeh
The protestors, wearing black tee-shirts, peacefully and silently commemorated the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) and voiced support for those Palestinians who were driven from their homes in 1948 by Zionist forces in order to create the Jewish state. Seventy-eight out of the 531 Palestinian villages that were eliminated were remembered through stickers on the black tee-shirts.
“New England Celebrates Israel” celebrants were not as peaceful and silent. They tried to block the banners with their bodies so that no other celebrants could see the messages. One celebrant attempted to tear a banner. Police prevented the tearing of the banner and escorted the protestors out of the Dana Farber Field Field House for their safety.
Previously dubbed “Boston Celebrates Israel”, the celebration of Israel Independence Day has been taking place in Boston for years. For the past five years, however, Palestinians and their supporters have organized protests to bring attention to the fact that Israel’s celebration is the Palestinian’s Nakba (or catastrophe). These protests have forced the event organizers to downscale the celebration, move it to Foxboro, and rename it “New England Celebrates Israel”. In addition, the organizers forced participants to show ID and register prior to entering.
Three quarters of the Palestinian population was expelled in 1948 and 531 of their villages destroyed. Today, these Palestinian refugees and their descendents number more than six million and are displaced throughout the world while Israel ignores UN resolutions which call for their right of return.
FULL STATEMENT FROM ORGANIZING COMMITTEE:
We are here today to commemorate the expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homeland and to protest this celebration of Israel’s Independence Day. We stand here to remind those inside and those in our larger New England community that Israeli “independence” equals Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe.
We are a diverse group of people who support the application of human rights for all people. We are painfully aware that the establishment of a Jewish state in 1948 led to the largest and most persistent refugee problem in the world. In 1948, 800,000 Palestinian people were driven from their homes in a process of ethnic cleansing that continues to this day.
Today, almost 60 years later, more than 6 million Palestinians still wait to return home. Three quarters of the Palestinian population are displaced. One out of every 3 refugees in the world is Palestinian. Many live in refugee camps. All are denied the right to return to their land simply because they are not Jewish.
The right of return for refugees is an international law that applies to all refugee populations in the world. The United Nations has reaffirmed this right specifically for Palestinian people every year since 1948, yet the Israeli government has consistently refused to implement this right. Billions of dollars of US aid give Israel little incentive to conform to international standards of law and justice.
Those of us who are Jewish say, “Not in our name!” The organized Jewish community that has planned this event does not speak for us.
As US taxpayers we say, “Not with our money!” The 15 million dollars PER DAY that the US government gives to Israel does not reflect our desires or our priorities.
As people who care about equality, justice, and human rights, we say, “Not on our watch!” Israel must respect international law, including the right of return for refugees.
We are here today to declare that Palestinian experience cannot be forgotten, that Palestinian history cannot be erased, that Palestinian voices cannot be silenced! Never again should this kind of catastrophe happen to any people in the world.
And we are here to let the organizers of this event know that they will never be able to celebrate the establishment of the state of Israel without protest until the Nakba is acknowledged and reparations are made.
Photos by Jonathan McIntosh