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
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail