Remembering 60 years of Dispossession
15 May 2008
Few events about Palestine in Australia have brought such large numbers to a public place to remember a 60-year history of dispossession, displacement, exile and occupation. From as early as 3.30 pm, Palestinians began gathering at the State Library of Victoria to mark this day of tragedy and struggle.
It began with a carefully executed activity to educate the public about the decimated Palestinian villages and the attempts to eradicate even the memory of them by Zionist propaganda over the years. An interactive map was marked out and passers-by were offered cards, each with the name of a village and information about its history from the more than 450 villages that were emptied of its inhabitants and razed during the 1948 al-Nakba (the Catastrophe).
Those who came early with their children were able to watch ten strikingly attired Palestinian girls dance their heart out to the music of Palestinian longing for homeland and memories of better times. Passers-by stopped, fascinated by their youthful passion, and were given pamphlets telling them about the history of Palestinian dispossession and loss of their people’s freedom as today 4 million live under the yoke of Israeli occupation. Black balloons clustered in a voluminous mass, each marking a lost village and town and lent an air of solemnity to the occasion not normally associated with balloons.
As the light began to fall, a steady stream of people began arriving for the candlelight vigil. There were not enough candles to go around, despite the 200 that had been brought, and this disappointed not only those who had come, but also those of us who wondered what 400 lit candles would have looked like in that magically windless twilight. By the time night fell, the numbers had swelled and young and old stood in silent acknowledgement of their people’s ongoing suffering.
It was quite a spectacle for the passing traffic on their way home from work, the warm glow of the lit up State Library providing a majestic backdrop to the scene emerging before it. Unlike so many other vigils, this was truly a Palestinian gathering of honour and all others stood in respectful silence on the edges or got their own special ring seat on the grassy slopes nearby. There were no speakers, but the placards said it all – 60 years of suffering – Justice for Palestine.
© 2008 Australians for Palestine &
Women for Palestine