Public Witness

The Catastrophe

Allison Tanner

May 19, 2023

The destroyed village of Ma’alul, near Nazareth

This week, people across the globe recognized Nakba Day, the commemoration of the catastrophe in 1948 when over 750,000 Palestinians were forced to flee their homes and roughly 550 villages were destroyed as part of the creation of Israel. The word nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic, and even the United Nations held commemoration events. To better understand the Nakba, I encourage you to read Judge Wendell Griffen’s essay We Must Remember the Palestinian Nakba. On Nakba Day, May 15, I returned home from my delegation that bore witness to apartheid in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. I spent the day in silence and grief.

The tragic destruction of Nakba Day is heartbreaking, but even more so is the fact that 75 years later, Palestinians continue to be forced to flee their homes and Palestinian villages continue to be destroyed. During my travels I visited villages that had been destroyed in 1948, talked with people who were forced to relocate in 1967, and met with several families who have demolition orders on their current homes. Some of these people have been internally displaced multiple times. I met with children who have had their school demolished and visited one Bedouin village that had been destroyed 216 times. The community continues to rebuild because it is the only place they have ever known. It was while visiting another Bedouin community that my delegation heard F-16 jets flying overhead, on their way to bomb Gaza. As a result of the 5 days of bombing on Gaza, 948 Palestinians were displaced from their homes and 33 were killed. Palestinians refer to these ongoing threats, attacks and demolitions as the ongoing Nakba, a never-ending catastrophe from which they cry for freedom.

At the end of my trip, I visited the destroyed village of Ma’alul. Like so many destroyed villages, the only things that remained were a graveyard, a mosque and a church. My group held a time of lament outside the church, naming our deep sorrow and offering prayers for all who have been affected by these tragedies. But in the tradition of lament, we ended with declarations of hope – for people all over the world are recognizing Palestinian suffering, naming their apartheid realities, and are hard at work finding ways to end Israel’s apartheid regime, settler colonialism and occupation. I invite you to embody such hope by signing the petition to Save Wadi Foquin, a village threatened by settler expansion. Jesse Lucas and Mary Sue Meads visited Wadi Foquin on their recent pilgrimage.

Stay tuned for more ways to work to end the ongoing catastrophe, and support efforts to endure freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians, Israelis and all people.

Pastor Allison

Sign the petition to Save Wadi Foquin