Local Palestinian justice group planning Nakba Day standout

  • During one of her 17 trips to Palestine, Sherrill Hogen saw a group of Palestinians holding a demonstration. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/SHERRILL HOGEN

  • A Palestinian home destroyed by Israeli bulldozers. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/SHERRILL HOGEN

  • Israeli soldiers seen through a gate in Palestine. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/SHERRILL HOGEN

Staff Writer
Published: 5/12/2022 4:51:18 PM

GREENFIELD — People committed to Palestinian liberation plan to hold a demonstration on the Greenfield Common this Saturday to mark Nakba Day, commemorating the displacement of a majority of its people starting in 1948.

Charlemont resident Sherrill Hogen, with Kairos/Franklin County Justice for Palestine, said the event will be held from 11 a.m. to noon to call attention to the dire situation in the sovereign state.

“This is an opportunity to raise the voice of Palestine,” Hogen said. “(Nakba Day) is a major event each year in Palestine. … As we recognize the date and its importance, we can bring the issue of what has happened to Palestine into public awareness.”

The termination of British responsibility for the administration of Palestine created the state of Israel in its place on May 14, 1948, and Nakba Day (or Catastrophe Day) is typically commemorated every May 15. Zionism is a political movement, generally considered to have been founded by Theodor Herzl in 1897, that supports a Jewish homeland. This ideology received a huge endorsement in 1917 in the form of the Balfour Declaration, a public statement issued by the British government announcing support for establishing a “national home for the Jewish people.”

Advocates of Zionism view it as a return of a people, long known to be alienated and persecuted around the world, to its ancestral homeland. Hogen has previously written in the Greenfield Recorder that Jews lived on the land, before and during the Roman Empire and throughout the rule of Islam from 637 until the end of World War I in 1917.

Hogen took up the Palestinian cause after visiting the state for two weeks in 2002 to investigate what she described as horrible stories she heard.

“I found that that was truly what was happening. I saw the remains of demolished homes,” she recalled. “I met with and lived with families that were under similar threats … from the state (of Israel) and I could see the result was homelessness.”

Hogen said she has returned to Palestine 16 times.

She said the Israeli military punishes an entire Palestinian family for the actions of one member. She added that collective punishment is forbidden by international law.

This issue is one of the most hotly debated in the world, with tensions high on both sides for decades. Many critical of Israel or its actions are portrayed as antisemitic, or prejudiced against Jewish people. While Hogen said she is not antisemitic, or even anti-Israel, she said she is “anti-a situation of injustice.”

Hogen also said a two-state solution is not as viable an option as many seem to believe because Israel has settled inside the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza — what would have been the state of Palestine.

“We don’t have a problem with Jews,” Hogen said. “We have a problem with military occupation.”

She said a big help would be for the United States to stop funding Israel the way it does. According to the BBC, the United States gave $3.8 billion in aid to Israel in 2020, and nearly all this was for military assistance.

Violence between Israeli troops and Palestinians has surged recently. Two Palestinians were shot dead and another was wounded in separate incidents in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Sunday, hours after the arrest of two Palestinians suspected of axing three Israelis to death. Also, a series of anti-Israeli attacks and bloody violence has left dozens dead since late March, and Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed by an Israel Defense Forces sniper on Wednesday while reporting on IDF raids.

Kairos/Franklin County Justice for Palestine also plans to host a screening of the documentary film “Stitching Palestine” in the sanctuary of All Souls Church at 399 Main St. at 7 p.m. on June 2.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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