Palestinian Community Protests the 75-year-long Nakba

Palestinians Gather in front of the Israeli Consulate to Demand an End to the Unjust Occupation of Their Land.

Photo Sadi Shan

On May 14, several Montreal-based advocacy groups organized a protest to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nakba. Protesters gathered in front of the Israeli consulate in honour of the ongoing occupation and violence in Palestine. 

The Nakba, meaning catastrophe in Arabic, took place in 1948 and marks the forced displacement of Palestinians for the creation of Israel. “Between 1947 and 1949, at least 750,000 Palestinians from a 1.9 million population were made refugees beyond the borders of the state,” according to Al Jazeera.

Organizers handed out flags and signs for hundreds of demonstrators to hold high, their sheer amount creating a sea of Palestinian colours waving above Montreal’s streets.

The heartfelt speeches began with a young activist highlighting the ongoing struggle of The Nakba, “We are here to commemorate 75 years of ongoing resistance. 75 years of Zionist aggression strangling Palestinian life. 75 years of Palestinian steadfastness…Yet our people remain defiant and confront the occupation every single day.”

A large part of the current conversation around the Nakba is Israel’s slow and steady growth at the expense of Palestinians, which has never truly stopped. The displacement of Palestinians was spotlighted in 2021 when Palestinian siblings, Muna and Mohammed El-Kurd, garnered worldwide attention to Israel’s attempts to displace Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah. Muna El-Kurd was seen confronting an Israeli settler who was living in her home as he said, “If I don’t steal it (her house), someone else is gonna steal it.” 

“We march to say we will demand nothing less than freedom to our people and to our land. We demand nothing less than liberation and return,” the speech continued.

The crowd chanted after the speaker, “Free the people, free the land, no peace on stolen land!”

The protest took place on Mother’s Day. Demonstrators and speakers recognized the struggle of Palestinians and expressed solidarity with Palestinian mothers in and out of Montreal. 

“Everybody knows, or thinks, that it's Mother’s Day,” Steve continued. “Every day here in Turtle Island is Mother’s Day. Celebrate your mothers! It’s your mother they want to kill. It’s your mother’s heart that they are after. They want to destroy the power that the Palestinian mothers can bring into this world. They distort it by killing their children.”

Sarah, a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) member, began her powerful speech by condemning the Zionist entity, “ This brutal occupation that demolishes our homes, that imprisons our people, that robs Palestinians of their lives, that tortures our prisoners. Zionism is a slow-motion genocide.”

In the last 72 hours, the occupation has relentlessly bombed Gaza, they have targeted civilians and leaders, they bombed Gaza to fragment the resistance. They have bombed Gaza to liquidate our collective power. They bombed Gaza because the occupation is afraid and weak!” Sarah continued.

A Palestinian member of an advocacy group, who chose to remain anonymous, explained what has been happening in Palestine the past few days, “The Zionist entity has been bombing Gaza, which is already a besieged small area that has millions of Palestinians. Some who lived there their whole lives, some who are also refugees from other areas of Palestine as a result of what happens every day in Israel. They have been bombing children, full neighborhoods, full buildings have gone down. Over 30 people were martyred in that process.”

According to Al Jazeera, 4 of the deaths were children. The publication also reported, “Israel renews attacks on Gaza.” Reports have shown that the increased attacks provoked counter-rocket fires from the occupied area into southern Israel. Gaza is currently on high alert with many sheltering indoors. 

“The occupation’s days are numbered, and we will never submit,” Sarah continued as protestors applauded her words.

Different communities rallied together in support of the protest, such as Steve, from the Kanien'kéhaka nation. He took the stage and expressed his understanding of the Palestinian struggle, “The Palestinian people and the original people of Turtle Island are sisters and brothers in this struggle on our mother earth. We are the only people standing for humanity.”

A member of Neturei Karta, a religious group of Haredi Jews, was also amongst the many speakers present during the protest. He began his speech by chanting “Free, free Palestine! From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

He continued by saying, “So sad what we witnessed the last couple of days. Bloodshed of men, women, and children. Horrific crimes going on for so long,” the speaker continued.  

“They want to blame whoever stands up and condemns and opposes that those people are supposedly antisemitic. Opposing crimes is a just cause! Opposing violations of Judaism is a Jewish concept,” he explained. The speaker finished his speech by stating that “this occupation in its entirety is criminal, and as Jewish people, we are standing here to say that this is a true violation of Judaism.”

Under a clear blue sky, the protesters marched down Montreal’s busy Sainte-Catherine street. Many civilians showed their support by chanting along, joining the crowd, and even waving from their windows. Despite the morbid circumstances of the community’s gathering, spirits were high and hope was felt through their chants.