Over the past month and a half, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have taken part in a series of weekly protests called the Great Return March, culminating Tuesday with Nakba Day, when Palestinians mark their mass expulsion during Israel’s establishment in 1948.
Men, women and children have been braving Israeli army sniper fire to demand that they be allowed to exercise their internationally recognized right to return to lands they were expelled from by Israel. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers, and thousands more have been wounded since the protests began.
While much of the media coverage has been casting the protests as a response to the Trump administration’s move of the U.S. Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem, they are in fact part of a century-long legacy of Palestinians protesting for their rights and freedom.
Palestinians have been organizing demonstrations, boycotts, strikes and outright revolts from hostile foreign rule since 1917, when colonial Britain designated Palestine for Jewish settlement. With the stroke of a pen, the great power declared that indigenous Palestinians, 90 percent of Palestine’s population, would not exist as a political community for the sake of establishing a Jewish national home.
Had Jews merely wanted to live in Palestine, this would not have been a problem.
US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel consolidates five decades of US foreign policy that has steadily facilitated Israel's settler-colonial encroachment into East Jerusalem and the West Bank generally.
While the Lyndon B Johnson administration was among the global consensus opposing Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, successive US administrations have spoken out of both sides of their mouth.
On the one hand, they have insisted that settlement expansion in Occupied Territory is a violation of international humanitarian law and counterproductive for establishing permanent peace. On the other hand, it has provided Israel with unconditional military, financial, and diplomatic aid allowing Israel to complete its settler-colonial expansion without suffering any serious legal or political consequences.
Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and an Assistant Professor at George Mason University. She has taught international human rights law in the Middle East at Georgetown University since Spring 2009. Noura is a Co-Editor of Jadaliyya. Read more . . .
My book, Justice for Some: Law as Politics in the Question of Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2019) narrates the Palestinian struggle for freedom as told through the relationship between international law and politics during five critical junctures between 1917-2017 to better understand the emancipatory potential of law and to consider possible horizons for the future.
My research interests include human rights law, humanitarian law, refugee law, national security law, social justice, critical race theory, and the Palestinian-Israel conflict. Read more . . .
As a Co-Founding Editor of Jadaliyya, I have the privilege of working with a remarkable team of scholars and analysts who have their hand on the pulse of dynamic change and historical perspective in the Middle East.
Legal Agenda is a Beirut-based NGO established in 2010 dedicated to legal reform throughout the Arab world through civic and judicial empowerment including the interdisciplinary study of law and society.