by Susan Landau on April 13, 2010 · 197 comments
Several years ago, I introduced the idea of a Nakba commemoration to my progressive synagogue in Philadelphia. The response was a stunning barometer of the work ahead. “It’s too bad the Nakba has to fall on Israel Independence Day. That’s The Day for celebrating the Jewish state. It’s not a day to talk about Palestinians.” Fast forward six years: an orange flier neatly tucked inside this month’s synagogue newsletter is headlined “Yom Ha’Atzma-ut al Naqba Commemoration” on April 16, 2010.
The winds are shifting, but the sailing is by no means smooth. Just yesterday attending a congregational bat mitzvah, I inadvertently seated myself among the pro-Israel camp. Greetings were strained. I like these people. Prior to my coming-out as an anti-Zionist, they liked me too. Now I am seen as one of “those people” who insists on bringing up the “N” word each year as we plan for Yom Ha’Atzmuut (Israel Independence Day).
Like many Jews, even within the progressive community, my co-congregants may know but refuse to talk about the “N” word. The Nakba, or “catastrophe,” names the Palestinian experience in 1948. Expulsion and transfer from their homes in historic Palestine allowed for the creation of Israel as a Jewish state. Simply put, the Nakba was and is the dark side of Jewish statehood.