JERUSALEM, Israel – Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) on Monday introduced a new House resolution to recognize the “Nakba,” the Arabic term for “catastrophe” that Palestinians use to describe the mass displacement of Arabs during the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948.
Tlaib, who is a Palestinian-American, submitted the resolution to coincide with “Nakba Day”, when Palestinians commemorate the event.
The resolution claims that Palestinians were “expelled or fled” from their homes by Israelis before and during Israel’s war for independence in 1948. The war, which Israel won, began when five Arab nations attacked the Jewish nation after it declared independence in territory that was formerly controlled by the British.
The resolution states that by the end of the war, “Israel had depopulated more than 400 Palestinian villages and cities, often demolishing all structures, planting forests over them, or repopulating them with Jewish Israelis.”
Israel contends that had the Arabs not rejected the 1947 UN partition plan for the creation of a Palestinian state and Jewish state, there would have been no war for independence and 750,000 resulting Palestinian refugees. Israel also argues that 800,000 Jews indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa were expelled from Arab countries during the creation of modern Israel.
The measure calls for “better education” about the Nakba and for the US to continue supporting the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – the agency dedicated to Palestinian refugees.
“The Nakba is well-documented and continues to play out today. We must acknowledge that the humanity of Palestinians is being denied when folks refuse to acknowledge the war crimes and human rights violations in apartheid Israel,” Tlaib said in a statement on Twitter.
Progressive Democrats including Representatives Betty McCollum (MN), Marie Newman (IL), Ilhan Omar (MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Cori Bush (MO), and Jamaal Bowman (NY) are co-sponsoring the measure.
The resolution is expected to fail in the House of Representatives, where the majority of lawmakers are pro-Israel.
Pro-Palestinian groups praised the measure.
"With this historic resolution, Rep. Tlaib and her colleagues have given a voice to Palestinian Nakba survivors and their descendants who have been living in exile and denied the right to return to their homes for 74 years", said Nadia Saah, Director of Project48. "By calling on the U.S. government to commemorate the Nakba and address the historic and ongoing injustice of land theft and the displacement of Palestinian families, they are paving ground towards a durable future rooted in justice, equality and return."
Pro-Israel leaders condemned the resolution as one-sided and revisionist.
“The root of the catastrophe: the Arab world refused to accept the UN plan for a Jewish & Arab state in what was left of the UK's Palestine Mandate after Jordan’s creation. Instead, 5 Arab armies invaded Israel, attempting to destroy it and push the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea,” the Democratic Majority for Israel said.
Ellie Cohanim, the Former US Deputy Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism, tweeted: “The American people stand with Israel. 'Nakba Day' stems from Arab rejection of a Jewish presence in the Middle East. Many Arab countries have moved towards peace. When will you [Rep. Tlaib]?”
Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin (NY) called the resolution the “latest in a long line of antisemitic, anti-Israel statements, policies and actions by the most radical voices in the Democratic Party” and urged Democratic leaders to condemn Tlaib and the cosponsors for submitting the resolution.