ISREAL - PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Sixty years of Israel – Happy Birthday?

The state of Israel was created 60 years ago this week. While Israel celebrates the anniversary of its creation, the Arab world mourns the displacement of the Palestinians - referred to as the "Nakba," or catastrophe. Our Observers, Israeli and Palestinian, tell us how they are commemorating the event.

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Photo: David A McKee

The state of Israel was created 60 years ago this week. While Israel celebrates the anniversary of its creation, the Arab world mourns the displacement of the Palestinians - referred to as the "Nakba," or catastrophe. Our Observers, Israeli and Palestinian, tell us how they are commemorating the event.

"There are busloads of people who will be going [to the anti-Israel protests]"

When Israel became a state in 1948, some Palestinians decided to stay in their homes on what became Israeli territory, and were given Israeli citizenship. Today, Arabs make up 20% of Israel's citizens. Amal Ziada is one of them. Describing herself as Palestinian by identity, Israeli by nationality, she is commemorating Israel's 60th anniversary by making a trip with friends to the village of Sufari, where week-long events are being held.

I am going to the village of Saffuriyya with my friends. On May 15, we commemorate the Nakba. But today, on the 60th anniversary of the creation of Israel,Saffuriyya will hold events to promote Palestinian identity. Many international writers have arrived in Ramallah and are making speeches today. There's music, demonstrations and we're going to release black-painted balloons into the sky in Jerusalem. There are busloads of people who will be going there from Haifa, but luckily I found a car at the last minute!"

"There are a lot more people reacting [to the celebration of Israel's anniversary] now than 10 years ago"

Ghassan Abdullah is a 65-year-old Palestinian living in Ramallah, in the West Bank. He was 6-years-old in 1948 when the Jews arrived in his hometown.

I remember the Zionist conquest of our country very well. I still can't accept it. There are a lot more people reacting [to the celebration of Israel's anniversary] now than 10 years ago. In 1998, we were more optimistic because peace talks were underway and the economic situation wasn't too bad. Today, we don't see the situation improving.

The new generation doesn't accept that Israelis celebrate an event they consider to be a disaster. Marches from several Palestinian cities toward Israel are planned as a symbol of the Palestinians' return to their land."

"Last night people partied until four in the morning"

Lisa Goldman is an Israeli journalist and writer who lives in Tel Aviv.

It's been very lively in Tel Aviv. Last night people partied until four in the morning. My neighbour threw a trance party. My window was vibrating all night; I got mad and called the police but they said they couldn't do anything because it was a special day. Thank God today is a day off!

On one hand, Israelis are very proud of their country; they feel like they've built a cultural powerhouse from scratch, but on the other hand, they're aware there are problems. I get on with my life here and I really hope the situation with Palestine gets better."

"Each Nakba it gets worse"

Mohammed Omer lives in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza strip. His grandparents were moved out of Yebna, north of the Gaza strip, in the upheavals of 1948.

People are sad here today. You'll start to see people getting together to tell stories, carrying keys - the symbol of the houses they lost. Each Nakba day it gets worse, and now it's been 60 years. We're just counting the time until we'll be able to go home. Most people here in Gaza are not from here. My family is from Yebna. My grandparents were just 14 and 15 when they were forced out. But they can remember everything. I think they'll make it back. A lot of people have died and won't ever get there. But it's never too late. Everybody holds on to their keys, ready to go back."

Memories of the "Nakba"

A montage of archived photographs along with survivors' testimonies of the 1948 Nakba from the Palestinian side. Created by the Balata Refugee Camp and posted by The Palestine Video Blog. The video was made in 2005 and has now been re-posted for Israel's 60th anniversary.

Israel at 60 – Who are we celebrating?

A montage of archived images illustrating the "celebrations and achievements" of the birth of Israel in 1948. Compiled by Ezrat Avot, an organisation for elderly Israelis.