FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The War on Palestinian Memory

Palestinian citizens of Israel must have been proud of the fact that their collective tenacity always proved stronger than any Israeli attempt at dislocating them from their rightful historical narrative. Now, they are being told to cease and desist from commemorating al-Nakba, the Catastrophe of 1948, which saw the brutal seizure and depopulation of most of Palestine in order to construct the Israeli ‘miracle’.

Currently estimated at a fifth of the population of today’s Israel, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship have endured appalling treatment for decades. As Muslims and Christians, they have been regarded as an anomaly in what was meant to be a perfect Jewish utopia governed by the laws of democracy. This is the quandary that Israel has never mastered, as the non-Jewish citizens of Israel have represented a major obstacle to that vision.

The question of what to do with Palestinian citizens of Israel has long haunted Israeli politicians. Discriminatory laws, unlawful seizure of land and even violence have all failed to deter Palestinians from demanding equality and exposing the moral inconsistency of Israel’s selective democracy and dubious history. More, all attempts at fragmenting Palestinian national identity – through different sets of laws for Palestinians in Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and millions in Diaspora – were hardly enough to disfigure the innate sense of solidarity and belonging that Palestinian communities felt towards one another. When Palestinian activists gather in Jerusalem, Algiers or London, one fails to trace borderlines, the details of identity cards, or any other desperate forms of classification used by Israel. When Palestinians meet, Israel’s divisive laws prove frivolous.

Israeli politicians have “lost sight of a basic concept in democracy,” claimed the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) in a recent statement, as cited by the BBC. The statement was a response to the Israeli parliament’s approval of a bill that “allows courts to revoke the citizenship of anyone convicted of spying, treason or aiding its enemies.” Like scores of other bills introduced to the Knesset, many of which have been approved, the most recent amendment of the Citizenship Law of 1952 targets the Palestinian population of Israel.

The bill, passed on March 28, was sponsored by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, the proud sponsor of nearly two dozen other discriminatory bills. Liberman’s 2009 campaign was largely based on the slogan: “no loyalty, no citizenship.” The latest bill is another manifestation of this idea.

But it was hardly the only bill targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel. Another had been passed only a few days earlier. The “Nakba Bill” passed its final reading on March 22 and was sponsored by Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu). This bill can be understood as a war on the collective memory of Palestinians, as it targets those who mark and commemorate the Catastrophe of 1948.

“We are ready to go to jail,” was the response of MK Jamal Zahalka, of Balad party, who warned of “civil rebellion” against recent bills. “Nakba law won’t stop Arabs – we’ll just increase our protests.”

Haneen Zoabi, also of the Balad party, told The Electronic Intifada: “This is a kind of law to control our memory, to control our collective memory. It’s a very stupid law which punishes our feelings. It seems that the history of the victim is threatening the Zionist state.”

A stupid law maybe, but one rooted in Israel’s historical fear of Palestinian memory. Indeed, the war on memory has its own convincing, albeit cruel logic. From Vladimir Jabotinsky’s ‘Iron Wall’ of 1923 – aimed largely at sidelining the ‘native population’ from the ‘Zionist colonization’ of Palestine – to Uri Lubrani’s desire to “reduce the Arab population to a community of woodcutters and waiters”, attempts at forcefully removing or reducing the Palestinian population is the cornerstone of Zionist reasoning. The reasoning, which was essentially predicated on presenting Palestine as a “land without people”, is often challenged by the fact that the Palestinian people are too stubborn to terminate their historical, intellectual and very personal relationship to their land. Their persistence has made a mockery of Israel’s first Prime Minister Ben Gurion’s faulty prediction in 1948 that “the old will die and the young will forget.”

Palestinian steadfastness cannot bend natural phenomena. Yes, the old will continue to die. But the young are far from forgetting. So how do you now exact forgetfulness from Palestinians? Israel has always enjoyed a broad definition of ‘democracy’, which purported to reconcile ethnic and religious exclusivity on the one hand, and the inclusive parameters of true democracy on the other. Outside Israel, those who dared question this wisdom were labeled anti-Semites. Palestinians in Israel, who fought against the iniquitous and dehumanizing definitions, were often labeled a ‘fifth column’ and were designated ‘enemies’ of the state. It is they who now risk losing their citizenship or being fined for the supposedly sinful act of remembering the tragedies that have befallen their people.

Although racist and discriminatory laws have defined the Israeli parliament for years, the unmistakably bigoted nature of these laws and the frequency at which they are being passed reflect the level of fear in the Zionist project. The major obstacle to this project remains a people who refuse to be defeated or to be relegated as “woodcutters or waiters.” Israel seems to be resolving its quandary of being a Jewish and democratic state, and it has decidedly chosen to be the former. There is nothing democratic about the most recent bills that have passed in the parliament. Israel is now officially an Apartheid state, and all the Hasbra in the world cannot resolve the moral crisis that is now at the core of Israeli politics.

Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on March 2 that veteran diplomat Ilan Baruch had quit his post as he was no longer able to defend Israeli policy. It seems Mr Baruch made his decision in the nick of time, as it would be a truly arduous task now to try and justify Israel’s war on Palestinian memory.

RAMZY BAROUD is editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). His newbook is, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London)

 

 

 

More articles by:

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). He earned a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB.

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail