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.
Amahl Bishara: In many hours logged on the road, I’ve learned that driving is a site of embodied, everyday politics — a kind that is too often overlooked in favor of official or formal political statements and stances. The different experiences of ’48 Palestinians and ’67 Palestinians shows how the Nakba is at the root of Palestinian fragmentation, and the road network is a prime instrument of their separation from each other.
Sawsan Zaher: In the Israeli economy, dirty, difficult, and dangerous jobs often are left to some 170,000 foreign workers, among them 55,000 Palestinian workers from the West Bank. Numerous NGO reports and media exposes have documented the abuses faced by these workers. Yet the most vulnerable and exploited segment of Israel’s labor force now faces yet another barrier to justice: in August, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked issued a new regulation requiring most foreign workers to deposit a financial guarantee as a condition to proceed with lawsuits against their employers in the country’s labor courts. As a result, whatever rights these workers should enjoy by law will likely be too expensive to actually enforce.
John Reynolds: For those seeking to draw tactically on international law to confront the Nakba, the international legal prohibition of apartheid can be useful in going further than the prohibition of colonialism.