Nakba - Arabic for “catastrophe”

Nakba  - Arabic for “catastrophe”

Sharon Copeman submitted the following testimonial to us as part of the prep work for our upcoming

FORUM: Israel/Palestine - Let's Keep Talking


Rebecca Vilkomerson is the Executive Director for Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).  Sharon shared that Rebecca’s  journey toward knowledge and understanding and transformation is one of the factors that drives her to keep working at telling this truth.


With memory and hope from Rebecca …..

I joined JVP in 2001, jarred by the second intifada into finally beginning to face the full truth of Israel's history. Within a few months of joining, I had become comfortable speaking publicly as a Jewish person against the 1967 occupation, and proudly wore our t-shirts saying so into the streets.

At the first JVP retreat I attended, Dr. Joel Beinin gave a lecture about the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”)-- the destruction of more than 450 Palestinian villages and expulsion of over 750,000 people that was part and parcel of the establishment of Israel.

I thought I had already learned so much-- but I am ashamed to admit now that I had never heard about the Nakba before (even though it has been well documented by Palestinian and other sources). In one evening, my understanding of the deep roots of Palestinian dispossession at the hands of Israel-- far beyond the 1967 occupation-- had vastly expanded.

I have continued to learn ever since, and now understand that there is an ongoing Nakba that has never ended. Every time a Palestinian home is demolished, Gaza is attacked, a refugee attempts to return even for a visit and is denied, or a Bedouin village is destroyed, the Nakba continues.

69 years after the founding of Israel, 50 years since the occupation, on the 29th day of the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners for their most basic and fundamental rights, and one week before Trump’s first visit to Israel as President-- our responsibility to educate ourselves and our communities, most especially Jewish communities, about the Nakba are clearer than ever. 

Confronting the Nakba is not optional.

Because working for a truly just peace without addressing it is impossible.

One year ago, Facing-the-nakba Project, created in 2010,  became part of JVP. Thanks to this project-- which drew from the pioneering work of the Israeli organization Zochrot and its close partnership with Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights-- we now have a seven session curriculum and a wealth of resources to share with members, chapters, and for local events specifically for Jewish communities to face the lessons of the Nakba-- and more importantly, to take action.

Two of JVP’s six guiding principles are “the capacity for people to change” and “solidarity and accountability.” Learning about the Nakba, and doing our work from that understanding, are ways of embodying these principles.