Arabic media mum on Nakba Day events

Unlike 2011, few publicized demonstrations in Arab cities, on Israel's borders; social media quiet after 'Global March to J'lem.'

Man atop flag pole in Land Day protest in Lebanon 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Man atop flag pole in Land Day protest in Lebanon 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Arabic media were uncharacteristically reticent ahead of Tuesday’s “Nakba Day,” hinting that this year’s commemorations may be tamer than last, when more than a dozen people were killed trying to rush Israel’s northern borders.
Lebanese news outlets reported that unlike last year, no protests are expected to be held at the country’s frontier with Israel.
Issam Halabi, director-general of the League of Palestinian Refugees, told Beirut’s Daily Star newspaper that calls like last year’s to “march on Jerusalem” have been largely absent from Palestinian camps in Lebanon.
The paper reported that this year’s Nakba Day – when Palestinians and other Arabs mourn Israel’s creation in 1948 – will be limited to communities north of the Litani River in a bid to avoid a repeat of last year’s bloodshed. Commemorative activities are reportedly also planned for Martyr’s Square in the coastal city of Sidon.
The mother of Imad Abu Shaqra, one of the protesters killed on the Lebanese border last year (it remains unclear whether Israeli or Lebanese fire was responsible), told the paper she had encouraged her son to join the rally.
“If another march to the border is organized, I’ll be the first one to take part,” she said.
Muneer Makdah, a senior Fatah official in Lebanon, said that the Lebanese authorities did not give permission to Palestinians to march toward the border with Israel, citing “security reasons.”
He said that rallies will be held only inside Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon to avoid friction with the Lebanese army.
Over the last week, Al Jazeera ran a steady stream of feature programs under the heading “The ongoing Nakba,” often tying them into the weeks-long hunger strike waged by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. None of the reports, however, suggested plans were in place for large-scale protests in Arab cities or along Israel’s borders.
Social media was also comparatively quiet. In March, pro- Palestinian activists called for a million-man “Global March to Jerusalem,” taking to Facebook and Twitter to drum up support among tens of thousands of people around the Arab world. No similarly ambitious Facebook or Twitter campaign was launched for this week’s events.
Still, calls to mark Nakba Day were aired Monday in places as geographically remote from the Israeli-Arab conflict as London and Pakistan.
On Sunday, a few dozen people gathered outside the British prime minister’s residence bearing placards calling to “Free Palestine” and “stop the Judaization of Jerusalem.”
On Monday in Karachi, the “Palestine Foundation of Pakistan” (PFP) called for protests across the country on Nakba Day, including at the United Nations office in the city. On Tuesday they also intend to run a commemorative seminar in the city’s Federal Urdu University titled “Palestine, a Country of Palestinians” and presided over by the Palestinian ambassador to Pakistan.
“For the past six decades, the Palestinians are faced with hostilities at the hands of the Zionists,” PFP leaders told the Pakistani daily The Nation.
“The United States, Europe and international community, through their actions and policies, proved that they are enemies of the Palestinians.”
Ziad Asali, founder of the American Task Force on Palestine, wrote this weekend that commemoration of the events of 1948 need not serve as a barrier for future Middle East peace.
“Palestinians must recognize and accept Israel, which is a legitimate member state of the United Nations,” wrote Asali, born in Jerusalem in 1942, for the blog “Open Zion.”
“The Arabs were unable to prevent the Jewish people from establishing the State of Israel in 1948. But Israel cannot incorporate the Palestinian territory and population conquered in 1967 without losing both its Jewish and its democratic character,” he wrote.
“Tuesday is Nakba Day 2012, [and] 64 years after I lost my home and suddenly found myself a refugee at age six, the task before us is to make sure that no further nakbas, no more pogroms or unspeakable horrors, ever occur again.”