Welcome! This blog post marks the online launch of The Nakba & The Law, an exciting collaboration between Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Columbia University’s Center for Palestine Studies (CPS).
Over the coming months, this site will act as a space for developing a distinct sensibility for thinking around the law in Palestine/Israel — one that is critically oriented but doctrinally grounded. As our concept note explains:
The consequences of the Nakba – the term commonly given to the exile of over 700,000 Palestinians during and after the 1948 founding of the state of Israel – continue to reverberate, especially in the legal systems of Israel/Palestine. […]
More than simply a one-time physical act of expulsion, the Nakba required and grounded a new legal infrastructure to legalize the transfer of lands from Palestinians to Jews; to concomitantly denationalize Palestinians while granting automatic citizenship and legal status to Jews; and to consolidate and protect these foundational forms of dispossession. The lingering presence of the Nakba is especially clear in the State of Israel’s ongoing efforts to displace even its own Palestinian citizens to make way for new Jewish settlements, especially against Bedouins in the Negev/Naqab desert.
The Nakba as process also necessitates and grounds a complex legal structure that relies on distinctions in space and legal status to justify the State of Israel’s exercise of supreme authority over a population of over 12 million citizens and non-citizens between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. […] On both sides of the Green Line, the law acts to delegitimize Palestinian belonging, legalize the seizure of land, and also to entertain some Palestinian claims to justice, all while state and vigilante violence ultimately act together to realize the state’s demographic goals. […]
This blog will act as a space — part notebook, part case file, part seminar — to explore the various dimensions of how the Nakba and the law come together. We will examine, translate, and read against the grain of legal materials such as cases, statutes, and regulations. We will comment on events of the day when we feel they can help illuminate the questions that interest us. And we will highlight and incubate new scholarship that connects with our interests.
As the project develops, we will update this blog several times a week with a combination of field reports, analyses of legal materials, and discussions of recent scholarship.
It’s also fitting to note that even as The Nakba & The Law unfolds in the digital realm, space is not uncontested. In exploring possible names for this website and URLs, we found that www.nakba.com and www.nakba.org were already “occupied,” in more than one sense. Both of these addresses automatically redirect to an organization calling itself Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA).
JIMENA’s declared purpose is to promote awareness of the plight of Jews expelled from Middle Eastern countries after Israel’s creation. Its work goes far beyond merely broadening awareness of history’s many categories of victims in the service of a universalist message, however. JIMENA also appears intent on undermining Palestinian attempts to memorialize the Nakba, repeating the Zionist trope that Arab states and the United Nations are “the true perpetrators of the Palestinians’ ongoing victimhood and catastrophe” (for a different perspective on the experience of Mizrahi Jews, see the Hebrew-language website Ha-Okets).
JIMENA’s discourse on Palestinians and its literal appropriation of “Nakba” as an internet address are reminders of some of the fraught and contested meanings at stake as our project moves forward.