FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Meaning of the Nakba

by NASEER ARURI

During the middle of May, Zionists celebrate an event that they call the War of Independence.

The same occasion is observed by Palestinians, who call it al-Nakba, meaning the catastrophe, which began with the internal displacement of some 200,000 Palestinians, reaching 800,000 or two-thirds of the population by the armistice of 1949, plus the organized destruction of some 600 Palestinian villages.

Despite the Zionist propaganda of the seven Arab armies converging on Palestine to preempt the emergence of a state of Israel, there is overwhelming evidence exposing exactly the opposite including: documented massacres to encourage the population to flee; strategic Zionist planning for ethnic cleansing; and well trained and equipped Zionist militaries, which had gained experience in World War Il. The Zionists faced an ill-equipped and disorganized Palestinian resistance and had succeeded in displacing the majority of the Palestinian before the entry of the armies of the Arab states, themselves with newly independent troops lacking modern equipment and without a central command.

In this Orwellian world, Israel blames the victims, who have received neither admission of Israel’s responsibility, nor the appropriate apology; rather it is the victims who are expected to atone. Even more inexplicable is the shameful participation of Palestinian public officials and the head of a Palestinian-American organization in Israel’s celebration of the crimes perpetrated upon the indigenous Palestinians in the “War of Independence.”  The fact that Israel was ‘born in the sin’ of the dispossession of another people has never been seriously discussed in public. This failure has occurred despite an abundance of irrefutable facts from Israel’s own “revisionist historians,” some of whom refuse to accept any measure of legal or moral responsibility. In fact, such a discourse on the dispossession of the Palestinians is typically portrayed according to canonical Zionist principles since Israel fears the facts might cast doubts on its legitimacy and “right to exist.”   How, then, can restitution and/or atonement to the Palestinian people even be raised as issues if the genesis of the problem must remain outside the parameters of discussion? Additionally, the anti-Semitic label is likely to be invoked if a non-Zionist narrative of Palestinian dispossession and corresponding Israeli usurpation were to come to the fore. The undeniable fact, however, is that there would never have been Palestinian displacement, dispossession or dispersion had there been no Israel. Yet, that simple and logical connection has been expurgated from the discourse about Palestine/Israel, to be replaced by a specious and distorted historical narrative.    Despite the inextricable connection between the Palestinian Nakba and the birth of Israel in the land of Palestine, no Israeli official has ever ventured to call for atonement. Neither event would have happened without the other. Apparently Israel fears any admission of responsibility for the Nakba would be likely to give credibility to Palestinian grievances and basic rights and would thus reflect unfavourably on Israel’s own “credibility”. The less Israel appears in need of moral and legal justification, the more assured its predominance will be. Yet, trying to marshal legal and moral justification for its existence could be seen as a clear sign of weakness, vulnerability, self-doubt, and lack of moral resolve. Consequently, Israel’s leadership perceives an offensive strategy to be the best form of defence. Israel’s brutality towards the Palestinians since the 1940s plus efforts toward achieving normalization with the Palestinian Authority and Arab governments is part and parcel of this overall strategy.  Indeed, such a strategy turns history on its head: the indigenous Palestinians have been declared “non-existent;” the victims became victimisers; colonisation became “development;” resistance to occupation is “terrorism;” and the right of return for the refugees becomes a threat to Israel’s “demographic security” and its “Jewish character.” Not unexpectedly, Israel’s current offensive strategy towards Palestinians under military occupation is trumpeted as a defensive war, much like the “war against terrorism” declared by the US. The fact that it is continuing an all-out attack against a predominantly civilian population struggling to end an illegal occupation is being obscured by a pernicious public relations campaign in which the US media plays a complicit role. The fact that it is committing war crimes, in the Nuremberg sense, in the occupied territories, does not seem to merit even the most meagre media attention in the U. S.  The Palestinian people continue to resist, however, against incredible odds.  Despite the above-referenced Israeli tactics and strategy aimed at defeating the Palestinian nation, the spirit and will of the Palestinian people has never been broken. That resistance and steadfastness on their part provide hope that, in the future, the immoral celebrations in the month of May will be replaced by atonement and justice.

NASEER ARURI is Chancellor Professor (Emeritus) of Political Science at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. His latest book (with the late Samih Farsoun) is Palestine and the Palestinians: A Social and Political History.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail