Protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy on Friday evening to mark 70 years since Israel was established—and Palestinians were expelled from their homes.
Some 850,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in a wave of ethnic cleansing to make way for the state of Israel.
Around 200 people joined the rally. They called for justice for Palestinians after decades of Israeli occupation. One protester, a Palestinian who didn’t want to give his name, told Socialist Worker how his family fled to Jordan in 1948 as Israeli forces cleared Palestinian villages.
“My Grandmother told me what happened,” he said. “They were living peacefully when the terror started and the Israeli gangs forced them to leave their village.
“Now we can’t return. We’re not even allowed to cross the borders. Some Israelis don’t even acknowledge our existence. They say we’re from Jordan”.
Other protesters came out of anger at how Israel treats Palestinians today. Sosa saw the protest as he was driving past with his friends, and they all stopped to join it.
“If you look at what’s happened over the last 70 years, you’ll see Palestinians used to own all of Palestine,” he said. “Now they live in just a small percentage of it—and Israel is still trying to force them out.
“People are being killed. It’s been going on for too long”.
The protest on Friday came on the same day as marches by Palestinians in Gaza in the run up to Nakba day—the day they commemorate their expulsion.
Palestinians have held weekly marches since 30 March demanding an end to the siege and the right to return to the land they were expelled from in 1948.
The Gaza Health ministry says that 47 Palestinians have been killed on the protests—and nearly 8,000 wounded. Israeli soldiers—armed with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition—have attacked protesters as they march on the border fence that traps them inside Gaza.
Supporters of Israel accuse the Palestinians of staging violent protests—demonising the Palestinians for resisting the occupation.
But as one protester told Socialist Worker, “The Palestinians are doing what anyone would do in the situation that they’re in. They’re not just going to sit still under the occupation and get killed”.
Promises by Israel of democracy and self-determination for Palestinians are a sham
Speakers also rejected attempts by supporters of Israel to characterise criticism of Israel—such as describing it as a racist state—as antisemitic.
Glyn Secker from Jews for Justice for Palestinians said, “We are told we must only criticise Israel as if it is a normal democracy”. But pointing to the systematic abuses of Palestinians by Israel he said, “Who could believe that this is a democracy?”
And Mark Abraham from left wing Jewish organisation Jewdas said, “Promises by Israel of democracy and self-determination for Palestinians are a sham as long as protesters are being killed, as long as houses are being bulldozed”.
The protest comes as the US prepares to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on Monday.
The move follows Trump’s decision last year to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It gave legitimacy to Israel’s occupation—and encouragement to Israel to grab even more Palestinian land.
For many protesters, that process is a continuation of the process of forcing Palestinians out of Palestine that began in 1948.
Speaking to the protest, Palestinian Leah Mohammed said, “70 years on the Nakba still affects us as Palestinians.
“How shameful is it that while Israel celebrates its creation, we Palestinians will be remembering its murder, dispossession and theft?”
But it’s only a change of language
Leeds students have occupied too