This Sunday, the 15th of May, was “Nakba Day”, or “Disaster Day” if you want to translate from the Arabic. The Arabs instituted it as their answer to Israel’s Independence Day and mark it on the civil calendar date, as opposed to Israel’s Hebrew calendar date of 5th Iyar.
What does Nakba Day consist of, and what do the Arabs, mainly the Palestinians, do to commemorate it, and why?
The answer appears to be: Tell lies and slander Israel and the Jews. The US international lawyer Alan Dershowitz calls the Nakba “Palestine’s self-inflicted wound” and describes the ignorance and bigotry on display at some recent university ceremonies:
I just returned from a visit from several university campuses during which I spoke about the Israeli-Palestine conflict. On these and other campuses anti-Israel students commemorate the Palestinian Nakba. They call this the Day of Catastrophe on which the Palestinians were deprived of their homeland and were made refugees from their birthplace. They compare their catastrophe to the Holocaust. Perhaps out of deference to the suffering of the Palestinian people, Pro-Israel students generally say nothing in response to these Nakba commemorations. The impression is thus created that everyone agrees that this was indeed a catastrophe inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians. The time has come to reply to this canard and to place it in its historical context.
The Nakba was indeed a catastrophe, but it was a self-inflicted wound. The Palestinian Nakba was a direct result of the refusal of the Palestinian and Arab leadership to accept the two state solution offered by the United Nations in 1947-48.
Dershowitz also reminds us in a very timely manner of a different Occupation – that of Jordan, which illegally occupied Judea and Samaria, renaming them “The West Bank” in a devious and sly maneuver which has forever removed any Jewish connection to the region:
In the aftermath of the war, Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. There were no United Nations condemnations of these occupations though they were brutal and denied the Palestinians autonomy and sovereignty. Only when Israel occupied these lands, following a defensive war against Egypt and Jordan, did the occupation become a source of international concern.
This is the reality. This is the historical truth. And the world should understand that this particular catastrophe, as distinguished from others like the Holocaust, could easily have been prevented had the Palestinians wanted their own state more than they wanted to see the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.
Dershowitz also wonders what kind of people celebrate their victimhood, their defeat:
The Germans don’t celebrate the catastrophe resulting from their invasion of Poland. Japanese do not celebrate their catastrophe resulting from the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Why do Palestinians celebrate their catastrophe resulting from the Arab attack against Israel?
A similar point is raised by the Arab commentator Fred Maroun who writes about the macabre commemoration of the Nakba:
While in the Holocaust the Jews were innocent victims of a supremacist regime’s attempt at genocide, the Nakba was the result of an Arab-initiated war. Arabs suffered losses in the Nakba, including the displacement of about 700,000 Arabs and the death of about 7,000, but there was no attempt at extermination of the Arabs who were in any case far more numerous than the Jews. Unlike in the Holocaust where six million Jews were killed while very few Germans died at the hands of their Jewish victims, in the Nakba the losses and displacements were about equal between the two sides.
A much more apt analogy for the commemoration of the Nakba is the commemoration of the Nazis’ loss of WWII.
Unfortunately, denying the Arabs’ role in causing the war of 1947/1948 and reminiscing over the Nakba is widely accepted and even encouraged by Arabs.
Oh, how far we Arabs have to go before we join the civilized world!
Fred Maroun notes in an update to his blog post a shocking report on a commemoration of the Nakba that took place at Brown University, sponsored by… Hillel! That is the same Hillel that is supposed to be a supporter of Jewish students and pro-Israel activity!
A fitting answer to this disgrace, although written beforehand, is a blistering article by Ryan Bellerose, entitled simply “Justice”. This article should be required reading for all Jewish – and even Israeli – students everywhere. In fact this should be required reading for Jewish and Israeli politicians, spokesmen and diplomats. Here are some highlights:
The achievement of a state for the Jews on their ancestral lands is the pinnacle of their peoples story, a story filled with sadness and destruction but also of unfathomable strength and determination. It’s easy to be strong when you are on top, it’s much harder to be strong when you are not ascendant. It’s actually a very simple story, a people displaced, forced to be wanderers, not allowed to own land anywhere, never being allowed to “belong,” being mistreated for 2,000 years, going home and building a thriving nation on land that was not only theirs by right of indigenous status but theirs by right of purchase, and then by force of arms after their former occupiers tried to take it all back. How then is this anything BUT a story about Justice achieved?
But what about the Arabs, you ask? The Arabs were ascendant for a thousand years. …
… They lie about their own history because they are ashamed of it. They were in charge, they were oppressors, who lost it all and were in turn oppressed by their Muslim brothers. Ashamed, they teach false history and steal the very stories of the Jewish people, and some of the so-called justice warriors try to help them. But at the end of the day , they are going to lose simply because they are on the wrong side of history. They are the former colonizers who stole indigenous peoples land, they are not themselves indigenous.
Something the social justice warriors struggle with is the mental gymnastics required to make the story of the creation of Israel into something it is not.
You have all the elements of the greatest achievement of Justice that has ever been – you had displacement of indigenous people, actual genocide, constant oppression, attempts to destroy and then to steal identity, religious persecution, slavery, forced colonization both of land and culture, rape murder, destruction of holy places – each and every one would been more than enough to destroy almost any people, but after 2,000 years of this, you have a people who didn’t fade…
… Then you had the most important part of this story – the brilliant resurrection of a language that had only been ceremonial for generations, the survival of people who survived the unsurvivable. You had people, damaged and traumatized but TRIUMPHANT!
So again, lets simplify. Massive crimes committed against the Jewish people, horrific crimes, but then Justice of a kind that has never been seen before, Justice that sets things right. They went home to their ancestral lands, they rebuilt their lands and while they continue to struggle, they are home and there is not a damn thing the Jew haters can do about it. That’s Justice. Indigenous people getting their rights to self determination, on their ancestral lands, it doesn’t get any more Just than that, it simply doesn’t.
How is it that a Metis Indian “gets it” about Israel and the Jews when so many Jewish people, even those who claim to support Israel, completely miss the point?
In conclusion, here is the inimitable Abba Eban, Israel’s former Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the UN, speaking on Israel’s “right to exist” – which, for those of us who have forgotten, is not something new but was an issue already decades ago:
“Nobody does Israel any service by proclaiming its ‘right to exist.’
Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement….
There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession.” (New York Times, November 18, 1981).
And here is Abba Eban in an interview on the same subject. The only thing that has changed is that the interviewer gives Eban the chance to answer, rather than rudely interrupting. And of course, there is no one nowadays who can come close to Abba Eban in his eloquence and beautiful articulation:
We must all listen and learn.