Saturday, May 17, 2008

al Nakba - The Word, The Myth, The Struggle

What is "Nakba"?

It is an Arabic word for catastrophe.

What is it's usage?
Wikipedia article:

The 1948 Palestinian exodus (Arabic: الهجرة الفلسطينية al-Hijra al-Filasteeniya), referred to by most Palestinians and Arabs as the Nakba, meaning the "disaster", "catastrophe", or "cataclysm," refers to the refugee flight of Palestinian Arabs during the last six months of the British Mandate of Palestine, the founding of the State of Israel, and the First Arab-Israeli War.

Why is the word "catastrophe" used by Palestinians and their supporters to describe Palestinian Arab fleeing Israeli Army (and terrorist organizations) in 1948?

Simply because the word "catastrophe" fits.

Israeli apologists spin their tales that before the Jews came into Palestine this was a land without people. and anyway, the land was bought from the Arabs fair and square, so what's the big deal (notice how both assertions are mutuallly exclusive, but that is beside the point...).

That is the Israeli political partisans meme and they will stick to it.

It is significantly at odds with the actual truth, with actual historical way the events of 1948 happened.

Again, going back to the Israeli historian Benny Morris interview in Counterpunch magazine:
Benny Morris is the dean of Israeli 'new historians', who have done so much to create a critical vision of Zionism--its expulsion and continuing oppression of the Palestinians, its pressing need for moral and political atonement. His 1987 book, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, chronicled the Zionist murders, terrorism, and ethnic cleansing that drove 600,000-750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948, thus refuting the myth that they fled under the orders of Arab leaders. A second edition of this book is due out this month, chronicling even more massacres, and a previously unsuspected number of rapes and murders of Palestinian women. Thus Morris continues to provide crucial documentation for Palestinians fighting the heritage of Al-Nakba, "The Catastrophe."

Got that?

Palestine WAS populated by Arabs, and these people were DRIVEN OUT by Israeli armed forces.

The Arabs were driven out because they have seen what happens when the Israeli Army comes into an Arab village - "massacres, and a previously unsuspected number of rapes and murders of Palestinian women".

The birth of Israel was ethnic cleansing, the same action for which the Serbs were so roundly condemned by the rest of the world in Bosnia.

Ethnic cleansing, to put it simply, is stealing land and property by a group of people from another group of people.

Simply put, if I came into your house, threatened violence and then told you to leave it because me and my family is now taking over - that is ethnic cleansing.

And this is the birth of Israel in 1948.

There is no way do spin this fact, no way to dance around it, no way to put up a screen of big, sanctimonious words to befuddle and draw attention away.

Israel was born of ethnic cleansing, of stealing other people's land and property.


What makes Benny Morris even more believable is that he is as great a historian as he is a Zionist. From the Counterpunch article, Benny Morris proves that in his view, all the massacres, rapes and ethnic cleansing - the Israelis kicking out original Arab inhabitants of Palestine - were a GOOD thing.

But in an astonishing recent Ha'aretz interview, after summarizing his new research, Morris proceeds to argue for the necessity of ethnic cleansing in 1948. He faults David Ben-Gurion for failing to expel all Arab Israelis, and hints that it may be necessary to finish the job in the future. Though he calls himself a left-wing Zionist, he invokes and praises the fascist Vladimir Jabotinsky in calling for an "iron wall" solution to the current crisis. Referring to Sharon's Security Wall, he says, "Something like a cage has to be built for them. I know that sounds terrible. It is really cruel. But there is no choice. There is a wild animal there that has to be locked up in one way or another."

He considers Arabs "wild animals" and agrees with the 1948 ethnic cleansing done by Israelis to carve out a country for themselves.

He is simply, as a historian, stating the facts - ethnic cleansing, massacres (as in multiple massacres, in many Arab villages) - and as a Zionist, he is agreeing with those actions done by Israel and Israelis.

So, this is, what is called "al Nakba", the catastrophe, in current news and political dialogue.

Why the word itself is important.
The Palestinians have noticed that Israel have used the suffering and the genocidal murder of Jews by the German nazis as a political tool, to accomplish political goals in the present.

A whole "industry" has sprung up, called derisively by many the "Holocaust Industry".
The "Holocaust Industry" is using the suffering of Jews during (and before) World War 2 for political and financial gain.

I wrote a post about it - I urge you to read it here, when you find the time. (To me, that is one of my better articles tackling a very controversial subject).

Some of the highlights from my article:
Minister for Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan (of Israel -AG)is seeking to reopen the 1952 reparations agreement between Israel and Germany (reparations for Holocaust, already paid for by the Germans -AG).

Eitan told Haaretz that the original reparations agreement, the Luxembourg Agreement, did not take into account many issues relating to Holocaust survivors and should therefore be reopened. That agreement stipulated that Germany would give Israel $833 million in money and merchandise, and Israel would look after the survivors, who would not be permitted to sue Germany directly.

The German deputy finance minister rejected the idea, and Eitan told him: "So just give us the money," Der Spiegel reported.


"So just give us the money" is an actual quote from the Israeli official.

This was one example of the "Holocaust Industry."

Interview with Professor Hilberg, author of a landmark study on the Holocaust:
Q: Professor Hilberg, generally speaking would you agree with Professor Finkelstein when he denounces the American Jewish organizations and some class-action suit lawyers for "extorting" money from Europe in order to let's say "make a killing"?

Raul Hilberg: I would in substance agree with what he says because I have said much the same things myself and the methods of the World Jewish Congress and some other organizations or people allied with it in his campaign I feel are detestable. I don't subscribe to them. In sum and substance I agree with what Finkelstein says.

Got that?

Israel, and various organizations affiliated with that country (even if, laughably, some are based in America, and run by American citizens and so are considered "American") use the past to profit in the present.

It is hard to put a monetary compensation on people's suffering. And the Jews during World War 2 were victims of genocide - a mad man's attempt to kill all the Jews in Europe. I agree that some kind of compensation must be paid to the survivors and their families (and it WAS paid!).

But for Germany and other countries to give money to Israel (instead of individual victims), the country whose founding was based on ethnic cleansing, and which has different racial laws for Arabs and Jewish citizens, which uses its army to occupy the West Bank, is WRONG.

And how are the ACTUAL victims of the Holocaust doing in Israel?
From my article:
Survivors have long claimed that European countries treat them far better than Israel, where many elderly survivors live in poverty. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's announcement of the new allowance did nothing to change that impression. One survivor called the offer "absurd and insulting."

Six decades after the war ended, the remaining survivors are elderly, and many have been unable to provide for themselves in their final years, suffering chronic shortages of money for medical and psychological treatment and in some cases even food.

Israel TV showed video of an 85-year-old survivor who said the only meat he could afford was chicken necks.

Let me repeat the last paragraph - Israel TV showed video of an 85-year-old survivor who said the only meat he could afford was chicken necks.

Do you see why it is called an "industry"?
The use of the Holocaust has nothing to do with respecting history, but is outright making money off the Holocaust survivors, not for them.

Also, and perhaps more significantly, the Holocaust has been used as somehow justifying the founding of Israel and all its subsequent actions. I will not link to the myriad of articles and books which implicitly state this.

Suffice it to say, the memory of the Holocaust is now cynically used by the Israeli government to linking the horrors of Nazi Germany to the Iranian regime. So of course now we, America, MUST attack Iran (but I digress).

There is power in words, in a narrative.

The Holocaust makes Jews into victims, a people who deserve Israel, their own country in the world. It allows all kinds of scam artists to make money off other countries historical guilt, and then to NOT hand that money to the actual Holocaust survivors and their families.

And that is why al Nakba, the Arabic word for "catastrophe", is so important.

"Nakba" makes a new narrative, a new history, it puts the Palestinian Arabs as victims, and the Israeli Jews as the aggressors.

In other words, it is the truth, to be set upon the Israeli and Zionist "truth".

Reaction in Israel.
Israel and its apologists and "think-tank" activists must see the emergence of the "Nakba" narrative as a danger. After all, in the Zionist narrative, the Israelis are always the victims and the Arabs always the aggressors...

... even when in 1948 the newly arrived European Jews kicked the original Arab inhabitants of Palestine out

... even when Israeli soldiers treat the Arabs with contempt and are given orders to shoot Arab civilians in cold blood (see here)

... even when Israeli settlers throw stones at Arabs just passing by their house (see here).

Now, "Nakba" is threatening to change all that, by making Palestinian Arabs into victims.

If, as is likely, the Palestinians will use the "Nakba" as cynically (and as effectively!) as did Israel and its apologists and activists, can you imagine what will happen? Palestinians asking for compensation for their murdered, raped and "ethnically cleansed", just like Israel and the Jewish organizations have done for the Holocaust!

This must not be allowed to pass.

Here's coverage from about a demonstration of Arabs living in Israel, who marked the anniversary of the "Nakba". Arab and Jewish students at Hebrew University squared off against each other on campus this Tuesday, despite the ongoing student boycott of classes, when a group of Arab students staged a march and demonstration condemning the foundation of the State of Israel as "the catastrophe," or "Nakba" in Arabic. This was the ninth year that Arab students at the Jerusalem university have so marked Israel's establishment on May 15 in the civil calendar.

This year, the Arab students' event was particularly inflammatory, as it fell on the eve of Jerusalem Day, which marks the re-unification of the capital under Israeli sovereignty during the 1967 Six Day War.

Yes, demonstrating on al Nakba day is inflammatory.

The Zionist student group called Im Tirtzu ("If You Will It") organized an active patriotic counter-demonstration to greet the Arab student protesters. The Jerusalem police department, which had been warned of potential clashes, deployed a heavy presence at the campus entrance, where it eventually managed to keep the sides separate.

In the morning, dozens of Arab students took an organized trip to the ruins of an abandoned Arab village in the Jerusalem area. Afterwards, when the students returned to Hebrew University for a pre-planned anti-Israel demonstration, they were greeted by an equally large crowd of patriotic Jewish students waving Israeli flags and chanting pro-Israel slogans. Arab students claimed that some of the Jewish students attempted to beat them, leading campus security to separate the two groups and force them off campus grounds.

Outside the school, the pro- and anti-Israel demonstrations continued, with the street, police and physical barriers dividing the two groups from one another.

Arab students chanted pan-Arab and anti-Israel slogans, including the Palestinian Authority anthem Biladi, "Palestine is Arab" and chants linking Beirut, Gaza and Jenin. The Arab demonstrators also denigrated Israel as a "police state," and called for "national unity" over the "Syrian Golan Heights," terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails and what they called "the right of return" for Arab refugees currently outside Israel.

So, the police separated the two groups, the Zionists and the Arabs, and kept the peace.

Here's what really happened, from
Thousands of people converged Thursday on the land of Safuria to mark the anniversary of the Nakba and to demonstrate for the right of return of the refugees. The crowd included mainly Palestinian citizens of Israel, and some Jewish citizens. Chants included "Long live Palestine," "Gaza is Palestinian and Golan is Syrian," and "We are all one people" invoking the West Bank, Gaza and Arab countries along with the people of the Galilee, and "The White House is the biggest terrorist." Some people released hundreds of black balloons into the sky to fly over the 60th Birthday of Israel celebrations and barbecues to remind them of those who were forced out 60 years ago.

Safuria was a town that was cleared of its residents and destroyed in 1948. It was larger than Nazareth at the time of its destruction. Many of the descendants of the former residents of Safuria now live in nearby Nazareth, while others fled to refugee camps in the West Bank and surrounding countries. The Jewish community that now lives on the land of Safuria is called Tsippuri. Each year for the last ten years, these Nakba commemoration demonstrations in the Galilee have been at the site of a different destroyed village.

When I left the demo, I saw riot police waiting across the street. However they seemed relaxed and simply there to make sure no confrontations took place with the Jewish people celebrating in the field on the other side. Then, the next morning, I saw this image of Member of Knesset Wasel Taha:

I learned that after a couple hours of the demonstration, the police moved in, some on horseback, and attacked people with tear gas and sound bombs, brilliantly setting the fields on fire. My coworker was there with her small girls still at the time the police and army came into the crowd.

"My older daughter was so afraid. She never wants to go again, though I told her no, the police are just trying to make us afraid. There were people with blood, and smoke and bombs and gas. We are not used to this and we didn't expect anything like it. There had been no problem- the police and the army came in and made the problem."

Israeli government reaction
Finally, in a surreal twist to the tale, I will now tell you of the official Israeli government reaction to this whole "Nakba" business.

As I have said before, the word itself is important. Just like "Holocaust", "Nakba" is loaded with a psychological charge, able to in one word encapsulate a whole people's struggle, suffering and (perhaps, ultimately) redemption.

This "Nakba" has (and perhaps will soon) change the narrative from "Jewish victims, Arab aggressors" into the more current, truthful "Arab victims, Jewish aggressors".

This one word is, perhaps, more of a danger to the Israeli government and the Zionist state (i.e. Jews-only state) than the PLO, Hamas, Fatah and all the other armed fanatical organizations opposing Israel militarily put together.

Israel has already taken a step to combat this.

It is a surreal, incredibly strange action, but here it is.

From my friend's vineyardsaker's blog, quoting

Israel is demanding that the UN strike the word 'Nakba' from its lexicon, this after the world body's spokeswoman uttered it, apparently by mistake, in a press briefing she held Thursday night.

'Nakba', or 'catastrophe', refers to the refugee flight of Palestinian Arabs that followed Israel's inception in 1948.

The spokeswoman told reporters that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to stress his support for the Palestinian people on Nakba Day".

An Israeli reporter present at the briefing asked the spokeswoman whether Ki-moon also congratulated Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the Jewish State's 60th anniversary. She said the UN chief spoke with Olmert a week ago.

Ki-moon himself was also surprised by the controversy created by his gesture, as he was not aware that the use of the term was unacceptable to Israel and is a part of the Palestinian propaganda against it.

I am speechless.

Nakba is, per the Israeli narrative, simply "a part of the Palestinian propaganda against it". And using this word, loaded with historical references, which makes Arabs the victims of Israeli Jewish aggression, is unacceptable - "the use of the term was unacceptable to Israel"

What really gets me is that this Israeli popinjay screeching is taken seriously.

What next, will the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have to apologize?

Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday afternoon in her speech at the president's conference in Jerusalem that "with the establishment of a Palestinian state, we wish to see the end of the conflict. The Palestinians will be able to celebrate their independence if on that same day they also strike the word 'Nakba' from their lexicon."

What the Israeli foreign minister is saying here is that the Palestinian version of history is forbidden, illegal, unacceptable. Only the Israeli version is correct and proper.

This is equivalent of a German government telling Israel "The Israelis will be able to celebrate their independence if on that same day they also strike the word 'Holocaust' from their lexicon."

The only rational response by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to this would be, to tell the Israelis to fuck off.

But I expect an apology shortly, and the word "Nakba" to be NEVER used by the UN.

And so the Israeli version of events of 1948...

...without the massacres, rapes, murders and ethnic cleansing

...the one where Israelis simply came into Palestine and bought the land from the Arabs, and after all there were no Arabs living there and if there were they left (not that they were forced to leave by Israeli soldiers pointing machine guns at them, that is a lie, a lie I tell you!)

is the only proper, true and acceptable in polite company history.

Words are important.
Don't let them get away with falsifying history (again!).

The last is a genuine plea, as I am an amateur historian and whitewashing history makes me livid.

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