In May, Jewish organisations will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This is understandable in the context of centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-semitism and Hitler's genocidal policies. As Edward Said emphasised, what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Naqba is to the Palestinians.
In April 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa's market square, Plan Dalet was put into operation. This authorised the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state. We will not be celebrating.
In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating.
In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians (Israeli citizens) were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating.
We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.
We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East.
Cllr Jonathan Bloch
Prof. Haim Bresheeth
Dr. Linda Edmondson
Brian Fisher MBE
Yael Oren Kahn
Prof. Adah Kay
Prof. Eleonore Kofman
Prof. Yosefa Loshitzky
Prof. Emeritus Moshe Machover
Miriam Margolyes OBE
Dr. Brian Robinson
Prof. Steven Rose
Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead
Prof. Frances Stewart
Powerful stuff, huh? I wasn't entirely happy with it when I first saw it. I didn't like the idea that celebrating the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was understandable because of the holocaust. Most Jews who survived the holocaust chose not to participate in the zionist project and of those that actually did go to Palestine, many seem to have been press-ganged into it by the zionist movement and its allies in western governments.
I also didn't like the fact that the Edward Said quote was bound to be taken out of context.
what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Naqba is to the PalestiniansBut Jews collectively have survived the holocaust. It's only indoctrination, manipulation and propaganda that has Jews in general living in the shadow of the holocaust. The nakba, is with the Palestinians all the time whether they are exiled beyond Palestine's borders, occupied in the West Bank, Jerusalem or Gaza or they are second class citizens under the law. And that's because the nakba is still on-going.
Anyway, the publication of one anti-zionist letter in the Guardian couldn't go unanswered by a gaggle of zionists (woops, dehumanisation). I think they cover the entire curriculum of the "putting the case for Israel" course. First there was personal abuse about ivory towers and how the signatories should address their statement to the Israelis who might not "know what they do." Then there was full blown nakba denial, from the enormity and significance of Deir Yassin to the jaded "they started it" routine. Then there was a sneaky, zionism as a bona fide European nationalism coupled with some more straight fact denial. We even got a bit of religious obscurantism together with (in the same letter) an appeal to readers to be more like Daniel Barenboim. I'm not sure that Barenboim would like his name linked to the ideology providing the motivation for that one.
My favourite letter this morning was the one that disputes the holocaust analogy. See this:
The signatories of your letter assert that "what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Naqba is to the Palestinians". I am puzzled by this. The Nazis murdered most Jews in the many lands they controlled and expropriated and expelled the rest, in all many millions. When did the Israelis do this to the Arabs? The letter's only detail as to deaths is that "hundreds" died on a death march in 1948. Hundreds, not thousands, not tens of thousands, still less millions.So there's a clear difference between the holocaust and the nakba. So that's how the holocaust differs from other genocidal campaigns. The way it's promoted it's as if there is a qualitative difference between a genocidal campaign against Jews and one against non-Jews. But this guy has brought a fresh approach. The nakba was better than the holocaust because more were killed in the holocaust. It's the numbers that count. I'm sure the same guy will intervene on the letters page if ever anyone compares the slave trade or the genocide of the American natives to the holocaust. "No the holocaust was much better than those others!" Well, what else can he say given his logical corollary?
The original letter is also published on Tony Greenstein's blog here.