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.
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.
In Israeli political discourse, the issue of African asylum seekers and the question of Palestine are largely seen as disconnected from one another. Yet the contours of Israel’s asylum regime and, by extension, its anti-Blackness and mistreatment of African migrants, cannot be understood in isolation from the Nakba and its laws.
Randa Wahbe: By detaining the cadavers of Palestinians, Israel turns the dead body itself into a site of domination. It is not enough for Israel to kill or eliminate the living Palestinian, it is necessary to dehumanize and degrade the body in order to control it.