The Nakba Files

The Nakba, the Law, and What Lies In Between


international law

Routine Emergency in the Jagged Time of Catastrophe

John Reynolds: Israel has operated in a self-declared and continuous constitutional emergency since the first week of its existence. Since the Nakba. Or, rather, throughout the Nakba. The logic of emergency underpins the catastrophe of 1948; its shadow continues to loom over the catastrophe of today and tomorrow. It permeates the ‘jagged time’ of catastrophe, as J.M. Coetzee puts it, in which empire locates its existence.

Palestinian Legal Activism, Between Liberation and the ‘Desire’ for Statehood

Emilio Dabed: The Palestinian national movement was created and sustained by refugees, and it always defined its struggle as a battle not for statehood per se, but for the liberation of Palestine and the return of its people to their land. Everything in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations indicates that a potential Palestinian state will be built, if ever, on the very renunciation of the right of return. This is exactly the opposite of what Palestinians were fighting for.

Visions of Reparation, from the Americas to Palestine

The Nakba Files spoke to Mireille Fanon Mendès-France, member and former chair of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, president of the Frantz Fanon Foundation, and a long-time France-based Palestine solidarity activist, about connections and comparisons between racism in Palestine/Israel and the USA.

#BlackLivesMatter and the Question of Genocide in Palestine

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.

Private International Law in the Shadow of the Occupation

An interview with Professor Michael Karayanni of Hebrew University’s Law Faculty about his recent book, Conflicts in a Conflict: A Conflict of Laws Case Study of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Decolonizing the Vocabulary of Palestinian Human Rights Work

Amjad Alqasis: As Palestinian human rights activists and organizations, we must be more careful in the way we articulate reality through the terminology we use. We have to control our own discourse, to challenge the Israeli narrative’s local and international dominance.

نحو التخلّص من الهيمنة على مفردات النشاط الحقوقيّ الفلسطينيّة

أمجد القسّيس: علينا، باعتبارنا نشطاء حقوق إنسان ومنظّمين، أن نتوخى الحذر في كيفيّة صياغة تعبيرنا عن الواقع من خلال استخدامنا للمصطلحات. فإن كان المجتمع المدنيّ الفلسطينيّ يسعى للنضال ضدّ التهجير القسريّ، فعلينا ألا نقسّم شعبنا، وأن نستخدم لغةً تبني نضالًا مشتركًا ضد المشروع الاستعماريّ الذي يهدف إلى التخلّص من حضور المجتمع الفلسطينيّ الأصلانيّ، وألا ندعم، ولو بشكلٍ غير مباشر، أي محاولةٍ لتدمير الشعب الفلسطينيّ من خلال قبول التقسيم الذي تفرضه القوة الاستعماريّة. علينا أن نسيطر على خطابنا، وأن نتحدّى هيمنة الرواية الإسرائيليّة محليًا وعالميًا.

A Brief History of Banning Arabs from Palestine

Lauren Banko: The systematic exclusion of Arab migration from Israel/Palestine did not begin with the 1948 Nakba. Instead, it is rooted in specific understandings of race and nationality enshrined in the international legal agreements that laid the framework for the colonial state of the British Mandate of Palestine, the state inherited by the Zionist movement.

Can a Citizenship Law Address Palestinian Statelessness?

In 2011, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) circulated a draft Palestinian Nationality Law as part of its efforts to achieve international recognition of Palestine’s status as a state. The Nakba Files spoke to Dr. Mutaz Qafisheh, the dean of Hebron University’s College of Law & Political Science and a principal drafter of the bill. Qafisheh is the author of a study on the international law foundations of Palestinian citizenship.

Who Has the “Right” to Steal Palestinian Land?

Suhad Bishara: Israeli authorities continue to deliberate over the fate of some 40 Israeli Jewish families living in the Amona settlement outpost in the West Bank, which is located on private Palestinian property. One “solution” under consideration is to relocate the settlers to adjacent plots of land that the state considers to be “absentees’ property.” Under the proposed arrangement, the state would “rent” out the land to the settlers on behalf of its unknown Palestinian owners using renewable three-year contracts. In other words, under Israeli law the state can remedy the theft of Palestinian land by compensating the thieves with other stolen Palestinian lands instead.

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