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International Campaign Calling to Deactivate Airbnb on 71st Nakba Day

May 15, 2019
Credit: BDS Egypt Facebook
Credit: International Middle East Center

Thousands of people across the world have responded and committed to an international coalition of campaigners’ call to #deactivateAirbnb in the context of the 71st Nakba Day on 15 May.

The global campaign spreading rapidly on Twitter is directed at the international tourism company Airbnb, which had confirmed back in April that it would not delist properties inside Israeli settlements, even though these settlements are at the core of the ongoing Israeli occupation and violate international law.

The international coalition, which includes SumOfUs, Codepink, American Muslims for Palestine, the US Palestinian Community Network, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and Jewish Voice for Peace, was angered over Airbnb’s reversal of its decision to delist properties in Israeli settlements back in November 2018.

Wednesday, 15 May marks the 71st anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, the date on which more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and properties as the state of Israel was erected in 1948. Up until today, millions of Palestinians continue to live in refugee camps scattered across neighboring countries, in Gaza and the West Bank, with their right to return consistently being withheld by Israel and its international allies.

The Nakba, which is the Arabic word for ‘catastrophe’, is one of the key events in the region’s modern history and continues to define its political landscape. The term is used by Palestinians to describe not only the events of 1948 but the ongoing injustices they face, as they are forced to make way for illegal Israeli settlements, which have meanwhile come to be advertised as attractive rentals by companies such as Airbnb.

Among the organizations calling for a boycott, The Palestinian Institute for Public Diplomacy posted on Twitter that “what we ultimately want to do is end this culture of impunity where international companies are allowed to be complicit in supporting war crimes and Israeli settlements that have been responsible for displacing Palestinians.”#deactivateAirbnb

Despite coming under scrutiny from international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Airbnb remains complicit in the Israeli occupation, thus failing to uphold its corporate responsibility to respect human rights, according to a press release cited in Palestinian news outlet Maan.

Credit: Reuters 2014

The future is looking bleak for Palestinians, with US president Donald Trump expected to soon unveil the so-called deal of the century, which is predicted to be largely in favor of Israel.

On May 14, Trump tweeted that ‘Today marks the one-year anniversary of the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel. Our beautiful embassy stands as a proud reminder of our strong relationship with Israel and of the importance of keeping a promise and standing for the truth.’

Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians participated in a protest in front of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza. This protest was held under the banner, “From the ashes of the ‘Nakba’ to the embodiment of the right of return, down with all the conspiracies.”

During mass protests on the Nakba Day itself, at least 47 Palestinian protesters were reportedly shot and injured with Israeli live ammunition near the camps along the eastern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip, according to Maan News Agency.

Erez checkpoint 2017, Credit: AP Adel Hana

Despite the grim headlines that currently dominate the news on Palestine, the Nakba Day is testament to the ongoing resistance of Palestinians and solidarity groups worldwide to the status quo.

To end on a more hopeful note, the Nakba has inspired a vast amount of artistic and cultural productions not just in Palestine but across the Arab world that are dedicated to remembering the ongoing cause.

A notable and timely book publication on this date of commemoration, A Map of Absence: An Anthology of Palestinian Writing on the Nakba was recently published and features a collection of some of the finest examples of Palestinian literature, including contributions by authors such as Mahmoud Darwish, Edward Said and Elias Khoury.

To mark the 71 years of exile, Facebook page Nakba FilmWorks has made the streaming of three films available for free for 48 hours from 15 May. Links to all three films can be found on the website www.nakbafilmworks.com. Simply use the promo code “NAKBA19”.

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