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Two days – Yom Ha’atzmaut and Dhikra an-Nakba

This week there were two significant days – one a day of celebration against a backdrop of horrow and sorrow. The other a day of loss and ongoing sorrow with no respite.

Two days. One after the other. One because of the other. Inextricably linked.

14 May, was Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, the national day the modern state of Israel was proclaimed on 14th May 1948. It celebrates the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people after the horrors of the Holocaust (Shoah) in World War II.
[The UN had declared that the land should be partitioned, and two states established. Israel was established, but not a Palestinian state]. 

15 May, is Dhikra an-Nakba (meaning “Memory of the Catastrophe”), a day of great significance for Palestinians, as it commemorates the Nakba, the Palestinian Catastrophe, with the permanent displacement of a majority of the Palestinian people in what had been the Protectorate of Palestine during 1948.

So much has been said and written about these two dates.

So much more needs to be said, and written.

What does truth look like today in such a contested context that has its seed in history*?

In 2024, these dates, one after the other, are especially poignant, given the tragedy of the attack on October 7th 2023 and the loss of innocent Jewish lives and the taking of hostages (and so many families left to grieve)… and the subsequent devastating destruction of Gaza, the loss of tens of thousands of Palestinian lives – mainly innocent women and children, (and the deaths of aid workers, medical personnel, journalists etc), thousands upon thousands of injured people and the destruction of infrastructure, essential services and basic necessities.

So many tears. So much weeping.
So much heartache, anguish and terror.
So much anger.

“We need to seek once more the peace of these peoples. And we need to find that peace on the basis of justice. Neither terrorist attacks nor military crackdowns will achieve this. They will simply exacerbate a dangerous situation”.

(quoted in an article by Rev Dr John Squires, Minister of the Word in the Uniting Church, on his blog, An Informed Faith)

A prayer for peace in Israel and Gaza
Christ, Prince of Peace,
hear our prayer and lament,
for our suffering sisters and brothers.
Our hearts are heavy as we witness lives torn apart,
as we see the faces of frightened children
and hear the pleas of those without water or food.
We pray for the dead and the grieving,
for the injured and the afraid.
We pray for courage and perseverance,
for those working for healing and to bring aid.
We pray for world leaders,
that they may strive for a just and lasting peace.
God of new beginnings,
in your ways are compassion and hope.
Open our hearts to dialogue and understanding.
Lead us all to answer your call
to become peacemakers
today, and all the days of our life. Amen.
(Source: CAFOD)

*this article maps some of the historical events and decisions. And yes, the historical account is complex and contested.