July 21, 2008

Denying the nakba?

I know, it's one of those question marks again. Last week, actually the week before last, that is the Friday before the one just gone, Alex Brummer (Finance Editor of the Daily Mail and Media Editor of the Jewish Chronicle) lamented the fact that histories of how Israel was actually set up by way of colonial settlement and ethnic cleansing are finding their way into the maintream media.
much of the British media has bought into the narrative of “Nakba” or catastrophe — the idea that Israel’s creation was at the expense of the Palestinians. Some 44 per cent of the articles contained this message, and the figure rises to 54 per cent when just the broadsheets are examined. What is extraordinary is that if one turned the clock back a decade to Israel’s more significant 50th birthday, the idea of the “Nakba” barely registered. This [is] an indication of how well the Palestinians (with help from Israeli revisionist historians) have done in the intervening period.
It's curious that he doesn't give examples of the way in which the nakba is mentioned in the media. His objection is clearly to the fact that there is any mention of it at all.

Just recently there have been more complaints than usual of the JC's unwillingness to publish criticisms, rights of reply and even corrections of falsehoods but Chris Doyle of the Council for the Advancement of Arab British Understanding managed to get his letter published (but not on line as far as I can tell) as follows:
According to Alex Brummer, one report suggests that 44 per cent of articles state that Israel's creation was at the expense of the Palestinians. This hardly constitutes a nakba narrative that rules. The question that needs to be asked is why only 44 per cent? Just where does Brummer think Palestinians came from, outer space? Israel is built on huge swathes of lands whose rightful owners are Palestinian refugees. Israel's gain was undeniably at their expense.
But Brummer together with the overwhelming majority of JC writers on the subject do deny it. Are they lying?

I used the question mark in the headline because Alex Brummer does not quite deny the nakba. His beef is that he doesn't want it reported on. Let's look at a report from the Financial Times that Brummer in his piece in the JC on 2nd May this year approves of:
Meanwhile, the Financial Times’s Jerusalem correspondent Tobias Buck chose to see Israel’s 60th through the eyes of Asher Gore, then a young diplomat present in the UN chamber when it voted in November 1947 to divide the territory between Jews and Arabs.

“The real achievement was not the vote but the war of 1948 in which Israel defeated an invasion by multiple Arab armies.” The FT’s information box felt no need to refer to the Nakba. It noted factually that “Israel defeated its attackers, 700,000 Palestinians fled Israeli-controlled territory.”
There, you see, no mention of cause or effect. That Israel won is factual enough. That the Arab states only mobilised after the zionists had driven 200,000 to 300,000 Arabs from their homes and they had expanded the territory the UN had assigned to them is also factual. And the fact that the "Asher Gore, then a young diplomat" was actually an Israeli diplomat is relevant too. And the words "attackers" and "invasion" are misnomers when applied to the Arab states.

The fact that Alex Brummer is rattled by the mere mention of the nakba is good news and he is right. Things are better now in terms of relevant facts on Palestine slipping through the net of pro-zionist editorial control and censorship than they were ten years ago. In that respect, only the Jewish Chronicle appears to be bucking the trend.

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