This past Sunday was the “Day of the Catastrophe” or in Arabic known as, “Nakba Day.” Some people also refer to it as an “Annual day of the commemoration of the displacement of the Palestinian people.” On this day Arabs from all over the world protest against the creation of Israel. It falls on May 15 every year, which according to the Western Calendar is the birthday of Israel’s independence. In Israel Yom Ha’atzmaut is followed by the Lunar Calendar, hence why the ‘celebration and catastrophe’ can fall on different days.
So who exactly are the displaced Palestinian people who are protesting? Today there are several million of them “divided between Jordan (2 million), Lebanon (427,057), Syria (477,700), the West Bank (788,108), and the Gaza Strip (1.1 million), with another at least quarter of million internally displaced Palestinians in Israel.”
On Facebook a few months ago I was invited to a group informing me that there were people creating groups and event pages on the social networking website to start a third intifada [Arab uprising]. Hundreds of thousands of people “liked this page” and the wall post comments made one believe a major protest could occur. In the past Israel may not have seen this as a major threat. However, due to the use of Facebook for the protests in Egypt, and the onward growing trend, the IDF convened and secured all borders of Israel.
Well, I am not going to lie and say I wasn’t a bit afraid for this day. It happens once a year, and nothing major has happened in a long time, but given the recent revolutions, and the peace talks that are happening soon, I think I had reason to be worried.
Palestinians and other Arabs marched towards the border of Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon. At least twelve Palestinians were killed. In East Jerusalem, and other various cities in the West bank, hundreds of Palestinian protestors hurled stones at the Israeli Defense Forces. Dozens of Palestinians were injured, over 70 were arrested, and one man died.
When I arrived at work I logged online and saw an article about how just an hour earlier in Tel Aviv, an Arab Israeli slammed into vehicles and pedestrians killing one man and injuring seventeen others. All the while yelling, “Alla hu-Akbar!!”
At Hadassah Hospital, near where I live, cocktails were thrown. I received a text from a friend who also lives in the Kfar who said, “In case you haven’t heard, there were some protests by the Hadassah Hospital today so it would be best to use the main entrance when you return home, just to be safe.”
A few hours later I received another text from an OTZMAnikim who is interning at the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz. “Fyi: Hundreds of Palestinians broke through the barrier into Israel, IDF is currently on the ground.”
It is hard to believe that this day exists. But Israel is a democracy, and protests are allowed, so while it’s crazy to think your car could very well be hit by a thrown stone while driving to work, it’s not out of the ordinary. Especially surrounding, and on the day of, Nakba day.
While those of you reading this might be in awe that such a day exists, I want to note how biased I found a lot of the media to be. On the BBC, one of I think, the most objective-based news websites out there, the headline read, “Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian protesters.” Other pro-Palestinian style headlines were also seen throughout the day on news outlets. I would also like to point out the fact that Syria may have used this day as a way to steer away from their own Arab uprisings currently occurring.
One article I read however that I did agree with is from the magazine Internet site, salon.com.
So next time you are sitting on your porch, barbecuing on July 4, just think to yourself how lucky you are to be living in a country where other people aren’t protesting against your independence. To know that you can celebrate and party and not have to worry about venues being closed because of a terror attack threat (this happened on Yom Ha’atzmaut). On July 4 don’t just get excited for the hamburgers, hot dogs, and various summer salads. Get excited to live in a country where this doesn’t happen every year after your Independence Day.