Heading up to the Sea of Galilee last weekend, I traveled a lost land. While my husband drove through 2014 Israel, past vast greenhouses and sleek malls, I navigated 1948 Palestine on my iPhone.Using the new iNakba app, I saw scores of villages destroyed or abandoned as Israel became a state 66 years ago. Not far from Hukok, a kibbutz where I rode my bicycle on Sunday through the construction site of a subdivision of large, lovely villas, iNakba showed Yaquq, with five photographs — an ancient spring and olive press, the remains of a column and those of a house.
Zochrot, Hebrew for “remembering,” has for 13 years been leading tours of destroyed villages, collecting testimony from aging Arabs, and advocating the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. But it preaches almost exclusively to the converted. Israel is a country where government-funded organizations can be fined for mourning on Independence Day, and where the foreign minister denounced as a “fifth column” thousands of Arab-Israeli citizens who marked the Nakba last week by marching in support of refugee return.
Benny Morris, an Israeli historian and author of “1948: The First Arab-Israeli War,” said that 20 years ago, Israelis were more interested in, and even sympathetic to, learning about the events that led to the mass exodus of Palestinians in 1948.Some of the language here is weaselly. Arafat for example didn’t “fail”to make a peace deal. He rejected a deal and started the second intifada. But Morris’s assessment is important as it at least makes the case that the Palestinians had a lot more sympathy in Israel twenty years ago but they lost that because of their own actions.
Today? Not so much. Morris said that after the suicide bombings of the second intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s and the failure of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to make a peace deal, Israelis changed the channel.
“I would say Israelis today are less open to hearing the Palestinian story,” Morris said, adding that he doubts that Palestinians, especially youths, are interested in the Israeli narrative, either.
The Post continues quoting Morris.
What is new, he said, is the growing assertiveness among Arab Israelis in commemorating the Nakba. This, he said, “worries Israelis.”Here’s where the Post falls short. It goes on to describe the problem in terms of a “debate.”
A recent debate between an Arab Israeli lawmaker and a Jewish Israeli legislator highlights the conflict: The two could not agree on basic historical events, let alone their interpretation.But as Shlomo Avineri described the “Nakba” in Ha’aretz recently:
It was the tragic result of an Arab political decision to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in the portion of the Land of Israel that had been under the British Mandate, just as the expulsion of 12 million ethnic Germans from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary after 1945 was the tragic result of German aggression in 1939 and later in 1941, when it invaded the Soviet Union. In both cases, masses of innocent civilians paid the price of their leaders’ aggression. But if anyone today tried to describe the expulsion of millions of Germans from Eastern Europe as a “disaster” that had nothing to do with the Third Reich’s aggression, he would rightly be called a neo-Nazi.JoshuaPundit expanded the historical analogies.
Imagine how the world would react if Germans held a public ceremony mourning the fact that they failed to kill off all of Europe’s Jews? or if the Russians publicly mourned failing to successfully starve all the Ukrainians to death or or the Turks had a holiday mourning their failure to totally wipe out the Armenians in the 1915 Genocide. Yet the Arabs whom call them selves Palestinians and their left wing groupies like the EU funded Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced Persons in Israel mourn their failed attempt at genocide every year.It “worries Israelis” that Palestinians commemorate the failure to destroy the Jewish state in its infancy. It worries Israelis and Israel’s supporters even more that so much of the rest of the world thinks that this commemoration is benign or subject to debate.