Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
Afaf Abdullah Abu State has only fond memories of the village where she grew up, which she will never see again. ‘My most beautiful memory is when I used to go to the sea to catch the fish with my father,’ she says. ‘I remember how happy I was to go to meet him on a boat on the Jeraisheh, a small river, now called Yargon. These were happy times being entertained by daddy.’
Afaf’s childhood village, Sheikh Muwannis, is no more. Destroyed in the Nakba (‘catastrophe’ in Arabic) by Israeli forces 60 years ago. In its place stands the campus of Tel Aviv University. All signs of the existence of Sheikh Muwannis are gone.
In the months leading up to the declaration of the state of Israel, it is estimated that 13,000 Palestinians were killed and a further 900,000 expelled from their homes. Eitan Bronstein, an Israeli Jew and director of Zochrot, an organisation committed to raising the profile of the Nakba in Israel, comments: ‘I think there is much more openness about the Nakba in Israel in recent years … In the context of the 60th anniversary, there has been much more talk about the Nakba. On the other hand, people who use the term don’t know much more than the term itself, that it is the tragedy of the Palestinians. It is a bit contradictory. It is not a profound change, but it is a change on the surface.’
This is not always positive, according to Bronstein: ‘Most of the reports are not very supportive. Usually, the media incorporate the defence of colonisation within the context of the struggle against Israel.’
In his role as director of Zochrot (‘remembering’ in Hebrew), Bronstein has taken an interest in Sheikh Muwannis. ‘We started the campaign a few years ago to ask Tel Aviv University to indicate the existence of Sheikh Muwannis within the campus, and we asked the university to commemorate the village. The answer we got was negative … no, worse than that, no comment.
‘Tel Aviv University has no memorial to the Palestinians who used to live on the land. There are history departments and we think it should be required reading. The universities have contributed to the continuation of the silencing of the Nakba.’
There is a movement within the UK that, like Zochrot, believes that Israeli universities must take responsibility for attitudes that, they believe, are heightening the tensions in the Middle East. Professor Steven Rose is the secretary of the British Committee for Universities for Palestine (BRICUP). The principal aim of BRICUP, Rose stresses, is to implement an academic boycott ‘aimed at the institutions’ in Israel. ‘The Israeli universities are complicit in the actions of the Israeli state,’ he says.
‘Israeli universities have never, as universities or as academic trade unions, protested against the lack of equity with their Palestinian colleagues,’ he continues. ‘Individual universities operate policies which include putting buildings on expropriated Palestinian land and treating Arabs – even Arab Israelis – as second class citizens. There are many reasons why the universities are not defenders of the academic freedom of their Palestinian colleagues. They are, in fact, actively participating in the oppression of those colleagues.’
Rose says that Tel Aviv is not the only university that stands on seized Palestinian land. ‘The Hebrew University in Jerusalem sits on a substantial amount of expropriated Palestinian land. The original land was bought from Palestinians because it was set up before the state of Israel itself, but as the university expanded, it expropriated a lot more land.’
For Afaf, the university is symbolic of Israeli attitudes towards the Nakba. ‘Their policy is to eliminate all memory and traces like we never existed, like our villages never were,’ she says. ‘Sheikh Muwannis was a suburb of Jaffa and it was a beautiful little village. We had shops but the most prominent characteristic was the bayyaaraat – the orchards, consisting of citrus fruit trees, oranges, grapefruit, youssof effend [a type of clementine]. Those have disappeared without trace. Yes, all that is gone and I miss it.’
‘Two years ago, I visited the area,’ she continues. I couldn’t recognise anything. It was an entirely different place and I was so depressed to see all the beautiful landscape gone and instead ugly concrete buildings. I feel upset, sad and furious. They have eradicated and killed one of the most beautiful places.
‘I wish, I only wish, that before they built the university, they would have kept some memory of the area, the village, to remind us who once lived there, of how beautiful it was and how very strange and built up it has become.’
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Nick Dowson looks at the new wave of co-ops and community groups where people are building their own truly affordable homes
Hsiao-Hung Pai meets people affected by the fire, and finds sadness and suffering mixed with a continuing wariness of the official investigations
Chris Williamson MP, winner of the election's tightest marginal, Derby North, and recently reappointed shadow minister for fire services, talks to Ashish Ghadiali about Jeremy Corbyn, the housing crisis and winning from the left
The Corbyn-supporting group is preparing for another election at any moment, writes Adam Peggs – and now has the potential to create powerful training initiatives, union links and party reform efforts
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi
Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun
Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh
With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook
‘We remembered that convictions can inspire and motivate people’: interview with Lisa Nandy MP
The general election changed the rules, but there are still tricky issues for Labour to face, Lisa Nandy tells Ashish Ghadiali
Everything you know about Ebola is wrong
Vicky Crowcroft reviews Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, by Paul Richards
Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for an online editor
Closing date for applications: 1 September.
Theresa May’s new porn law is ridiculous – but dangerous
The law is almost impossible to enforce, argues Lily Sheehan, but it could still set a bad precedent
Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art
Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs
Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox
Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole
Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part
Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper
Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s
Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach
Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.
Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite
Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead
Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee
Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power
The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced