About Facing the Nakba

Facing the Nakba offers educational resources to U.S. Jews and a general U.S. audience about the history of the Nakba (“Catastrophe” in Arabic) and its implications in Palestine/Israel today. The Nakba refers to the forced displacement of Palestinians that began with Israel’s establishment, and that continues to this day.

Facing the Nakba draws from the pioneering work of the Israeli organization Zochrot (“Remembering” in Hebrew), which published a study guide in 2008 called “How do you say Nakba in Hebrew?” to promote acknowledgment and accountability within Israel for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba. Facing the Nakba also maintains close partnerships with Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights and the Participatory Action Research Center (PARCEO) to further develop our materials and broaden our reach.

We began creating this curriculum for U.S. audiences in 2010 as an independent project, and became part of JVP in the summer of 2016. In the U.S., while most people learn about Israel as a “safe haven” for Jews, we seldom hear about the Palestinian experience of dispossession and expulsion in and prior to 1948. When U.S. Jews do talk about Palestine, the conversation often focuses on the post-1967 occupation, without acknowledging the occupation that began with the founding of the state of Israel.

As educators and activists, we have seen how acknowledgment of the Nakba can deepen discussions of the history of Palestine, Israel, and the occupation. We have seen how silence about the Nakba in U.S. Jewish communities and institutions has enabled a massive ignoring of history and sidelining of Palestinian voices.

As journalist Gideon Levy wrote in Ha’aretz: “Peace is not going to be prevented because the Palestinians are insisting on the right of return. It will be prevented mainly because Israel is not prepared to internalize the historical starting point: A people without a country came to a country with a people, and that people experienced a terrible tragedy that continues to this day.”

Here are some of the possible ways (and there are more!) that JVP chapters, councils, and members can make use of the Facing the Nakba resources:

  1. Host a monthly series to do the entire curriculum
  2. Do a one-time event using select exercises
  3. Select a few readings from our bibliography and have a discussion as part of your chapter meeting
  4. Plan an event around Nakba Day in May using our materials
  5. If you are in the Midwest: host Lubnah Shomali from our partner organization BADIL when she tours the Midwest post-NMM!

The curriculum and all supplementary materials are designed to strengthen and deepen our thinking and organizing for justice – we hope you make great use of them!

Coordinating CommitteeFacing Nakba Logo_color
Nava Etshalom
Julia Kessler
Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark
Donna Nevel
Rabbi Alissa Wise


  1. It is the responsibility of U.S. Jews to know the history of the Nakba and to make that history visible in our communities.
  2. Our role as U.S. Jews is to support and amplify Palestinian voices and experiences and not to take ownership over the Palestinian struggle for liberation.
  3. We know from the history of social change that organizing for justice and equality, when powered by directly affected communities, can move mountains, even though we might not be able to imagine the possibilities beforehand.


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