69 Years Since Al-Nakba & 29 Days of the #DignityStrike

Today, May 15th, 2017, marks the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands.  Today also marks 69 years of resistance […]

nakba imageToday, May 15th, 2017, marks the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands.  Today also marks 69 years of resistance to Israeli colonization and occupation, and to British and later U.S. imperialism.  Generations of Palestinians have refused to concede this key demand of the national liberation movement, our inalienable and collective Right of Return.  Sixty-nine years later, Palestinians all over the world, the refugees who were expelled as well as their descendants, maintain that they WILL return to their original homes and lands.

Israel understands it is losing the public relations war in the international arena, as well as its grip on the masses of Palestinian people living under apartheid or under the subservient Palestinian Authority.  It is this reality that has pushed the politics of Israel further and further to the right, to become the borderline fascist government that we see today.  But in the face of unrelenting violence and repression, the Palestinian people continue to resist.  And today, the 69 year commemoration of the Nakba also marks the 29th day of the #DignityStrike, a hunger strike by over 1,800 political prisoners in Israeli jails.

As USPCN has stated countless times, the struggle of our prisoners is central to the struggle to liberate Palestine, and more specifically, that the defense of Palestinian political prisoners is the defense of the right of Palestinian resistance and the defense of our national liberation movement.  The prisoners’ strike has  inspired action across historic Palestine and around the world, where Palestinians and our supporters are organizing everything from general strikes and “days of rage” to vigils and and solidarity fasts.

USPCN has been at the forefront of these actions here in the U.S., and our Chicago chapter led the organizing of a day-long fast and encampment in solidarity with the prisoners on May 11th, when over 200 community members and supporters gathered in a makeshift tent in Burbank, Illinois, a suburb just southwest of Chicago.grp pic hunger strike

VIDEO by Tom Callahan

Besides posters and pictures of prisoners, including the relatives of a number of Chicagoans, the tent offered a number of activities for participants, including taking the #SaltwaterChallenge and sending video of it on social media to raise awareness about the fact that the hunger strikers are consuming only salt and water.  In addition, USPCN’s ongoing “When I Return” project encouraged children to draw pictures and write poems imagining what return to a liberated Palestine would look like.

A press conference was held near the end of the long day, when Thaira Hamayel, the sister of prisoner and hunger striker Thaer Hamayel, who is currently serving a 25-year sentence, spoke about her beloved brother’s struggle in the Israeli prisons and laid out the prisoners’ basic, humanitarian demands, which include the restoration of regular family visits, an end to solitary confinement, an end to administrative detention (imprisonment for months without formal charge), the strengthening of medical care, and access to education.

U.S. Congressman Danny Davis sent a written message that was read by USPCN member Kareem Youssef, and powerful statements of solidarity were made by Lesley Williams of Jewish Voice for Peace, Frank Chapman of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and others.  The evening ended with a picket line and some chanting, as well as classical Palestinian call-and-response folkloric song.  The main co-conveners of the day of action were the Palestinian American Community Center and Students for Justice in Palestine – DePaul University, but see this page for all the endorsers.

The prisoners are entering the fifth week of the hunger strike, and their health conditions will begin to deteriorate rapidly, so USPCN is urging everyone to:

Call Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson at 202.647.9572;
mothers at hunger strike
Amnesty International USA Headquarters at 212.807.8400;

International Red Cross at 202.587.4600; and

Senator Richard Durbin at 312.353.4952;

and DEMAND that they pressure Israel to agree to the Palestinian hunger strikers’ basic humanitarian demands!

For more information, follow @uspcn, @addameer, and @samidoun, as well as these hashtags on twitter: #DignityStrikeChi, #DignityStrike, #PalHunger, and #StopAD.