Greg Thomas: I have long been interested in the resonances between the Nakba and the Maafa – this is the Swahili word chosen for what is otherwise dubbed the “Middle Passage” in the history of African enslavement in the Americas, in North America specifically in this case. Both terms translate to the same thing: disaster or catastrophe. Both are used for enormous dislocating experiences that go on to define ongoing lives of struggle. Whenever I hear “Nakba,” I think immediately Maafa.
Katherine Franke: In August, the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) – a collective of more than 50 organizations – issued a comprehensive policy platform, A Vision for Black Lives, in which they explicitly connected the struggle for racial justice in the U.S. to that waged by Palestinians. The blowback from both liberal and conservative Zionist organizations was swift and searing.
The Nakba Files spoke with Greg Thomas, Associate Professor of English at Tufts University (USA) and curator of the traveling exhibit “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine,” which will run at Haifa’s Khashabi Theater from 28 October 2016 to 14 January 2017. Thomas is writing a book about George Jackson (1941-1971), a prominent member of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and a political prisoner who was assassinated by state authorities. The exhibit highlights connections between Palestinian and Black American experiences of captivity.
Nick Estes: While the Nakba was taking place in Palestine, Native peoples in the United States faced what is known as “the era of termination.” Termination was meant to forcibly assimilate Native peoples into white culture while in Palestine, Zionism emphasized segregating Jews and Arabs instead. But in both places, dispossession and expulsion were the order of the day.