FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Are Israelis Appropriating the Nakba?

by SUSAN ABULHAWA

Al Jazeera Stream contacted me a few days ago asking if I would participate on a show commemorating the Nakbe.  I would be the only Palestinian, the producer said, “to balance things out” amidst various Israeli voices.  Here’s the exact excerpt of the email:

“We are looking for a unique angle with which to cover this and one we were thinking of was looking at the Nakba through Israeli eyes and competing Israeli perspectives. We would also like to have a Palestinian guest join us on set however, to balance things out. As you noted, it would be 3-4 Israelis and just the one Palestinian – but as I said, the Israeli’s will include those very critical of Israeli society on this issue. We certainly wont have anyone in the discussion who flat out denies the Nakba.”

After thoughtful consideration and rumination on my initial impulse to refuse, I responded as follows:

“I have considered your invitation and it frankly pains me that you would conceive of such a forum.  However, I suspect that others may consider going the same route in the future and I am willing to come on merely to repudiate and discourage such a conversation from taking place again.  As such, I would appear only under the following circumstances:

1. I do not agree to any form of “conversation” with Israelis about the Nakba, and that must be made clear

2. Per the above, the show must be split somehow whereby I would follow whatever discussion you had with them. I do not agree to any exchange with them; but i will agree to a discussion with the interviewer afterward about whatever is said.”

The producer went and found “another Palestinian who was willing to come on the show”.  He didn’t care to know why I objected.  But I care to make it clear to AJStream and to anyone who cares to know, why I find such a show appalling.

Since we must perpetually put our pain in the form of analogies in order to facilitate empathy, let me do that to start off.

Imagine Germany never acknowledged the Jewish holocaust.  Imagine, we are living in an era where Jews are still fighting for basic recognition of their pain.  Then imagine that on the day in which Jews engage in solemn remembrance of their greatest collective wound, television shows choose to feature German sons and daughters of Nazis in a discussion expressing differing views on whether or not and/or how Germany should deal with the memory of the genocide their country committed.  And imagine, of course, there is a token Jew “to balance out” such an ill-timed and inappropriate public conversation.

Unfortunately, what AJStream is doing is not without precedent.

After the Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982, under the watch of,  and encouragement by, the Israeli army under Ariel Sharon, in which their Phalange proxy butchered over 3,000 unarmed Palestinian men, women and children, 3252.mornings-in-jeninNewsweek featured an article entitled “Israel in Torment.” In other words, although Palestinians were again on the receiving end of the most savage violence to emerge from this “conflict”, Newsweek, like AJStream now, thought the most newsworthy topic pertained to so-called “dissenting Israeli voices.”  They thought it was more interesting to examine ineffable Palestinian pain through Israeli eyes!

One can cite endless examples of Israeli appropriation of everything Palestinian – land and home, heritage and culture, hummus and couscous, narrative and history.  Now, we see an example of appropriation even of our deepest collective wound.  When and how did the Nakba become the purview of Israelis?

Israelis have no place inside our pain, the anguish of our society that they themselves created and perpetuate still.  Why does AJ Stream think it’s appropriate, on this solemn remembrance day for Palestinians, to hold a discussion among Israelis about whether and how their country should acknowledge the savagery they perpetuated against the indigenous people of the land they now occupy?    And why, most importantly, would any Palestinian lend legitimacy to such an offense?

The vexing and unforgivable part of this is that some of us facilitate this kind of imperialism.  Should we call it ‘emotional imperialism’? colonization of our pain?  Palestinian organizations invite Israeli speakers to mark Nakba commemoration events.  Why?  Is there nothing sacred? Is there a shortage of Nakba survivors?  Of Palestinian historians, activists, or intellectuals? Can we expect that the Nakba will now be colonized by Israeli voices?  Is it simply that the Nakba commemoration only becomes real when Israelis say so, just as our history only became real when Israeli historians copied our books and published what we had said for decades?

The only contribution that Israelis should make to the Nakba discourse is an unqualified, unmitigated apology, followed by a conversation about restitution, repatriation, and compensation.  That’s it!

Inviting a public conversation with Israelis to discuss whether their country should recognize our humanity is offensive and hurtful as we gather to remember and grieve; and Palestinians and Palestinian supporters should not stand for it.

In the words of our beloved Mahmoud Darwish, “So leave…Our wheat, our salt, our wounds.” Leave our wound that you created.  Just leave what so little remains.

Susan Abulhawa is a Palestinian writer and founder of Playgrounds for Palestine. She is the author of best-selling novel Mornings in Jenin.

Susan Abulhawa is a bestselling novelist and essayist. Her new novel, The Blue Between Sky and Water, was released this year and simultaneously published in multiple languages, including German.

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
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
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
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
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
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?
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