Nakba widely misrepresented as an anti-Israeli protest instead of a Palestinian commemoration


All citations below were from 15 May 2001 reports.

“As they mourn today’s anniversary of the birth of Israel, Palestinians find themselves living through a new disaster, a mismatched s1truggle with the Jewish state that threatens what they have accomplished in the past eight years.” — from “A Bitter Sense of Deja Vu for Palestinians,” by MARY CURTIUS, Los Angeles Times.

“Palestinians have held a three-minute silence to mark what they call “Al-Naqba” or “day of catastrophe” amid further Middle East violence. Palestinians are holding marches and rallies to mark the anniversary of the creation of the Israeli state on May 15, 1948. ” — from “Mideast clashes on day of protest,” CNN.

“Israeli security forces are on alert as Palestinians mark the anniversary of what they call “Al-Naqba” or “day of catastrophe” — the creation of the Israeli state on May 15 1948.” — from “Mideast tense for Al-Naqba,” CNN.

“The army is braced for a Palestinian response today, the date when Palestinians mark the “catastrophe” of the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.” — from Fury as five Palestinian police are shot dead,” by Alan Philps, Electronic Telegraph.

Expect this mistake to be again widely repeated in tomorrow’s coverage of today’s events.



The Nakba is the commemmoration of the destruction of 415 Palestinian villages and the creation of almost one million Palestinian refugees in the years between 1947 and 1950.

Although it may be true that the actual Nakba day commemmoration is held on the day of Israel’s founding, every Palestinian is aware that the events being commemmorated took place from 1947 and 1950 and that the marches and rallies are intended to raise awareness of Palestinian history.

Portraying the Nakba commemmorations as “anti-Israeli” rather than pro-Palestinian diminishes this historic Palestinian tragedy and portrays Palestinians — in their hour of greatest national sorrow — as having nothing better to do than blindly “hate Israel.”

Many reports led with today’s street protests. These should not be presented as part of the Nakba commemmoration events that took place in Palestinian cities and towns. The street protests were separate from the peaceful commemorative marches and rallies, and involved the participation of only a small percentage of Palestinians.

Portraying the street protests as an integral part of the Nakba commemmoration conveys a racist impression that Palestinians are only capable of hatred in response to tragedy.

Commendably, both large wire services, the Associated Press and Reuters, did not fall into today’s trap.


Write to any or all of the publications listed on the left (or any others who repeat the same error) at the given protest e-mail addresses:

  1. Citing the article title/s and date.
  2. Stressing that there is a prevailing media tendency to present the Palestinians in two-dimensional terms, usually in the way that Israelis see them, which often results in their dehumanisation and decontextualisation.
  3. Pointing out that presenting the Nakba as an anti-Israel protest rather than a pro-Palestinian commemmoration dehumanises the Palestinian people and diminishes the tragedy that they are commemmorating today.
  4. Please write an original letter and do not simply copy & paste the information above. As always, be brief, polite, quote accurately, and include your name, address, and telephone number (which most publications require to ensure publication). Send copies of any responses or printing of your letter (including the original, if it was edited) to Please forward a copy of any letter you send to