As Palestinians mark Nakba Day to recognise the catastrophe of 1948, yet more evidence emerged of the racist nature of Israeli foreign minister Avignor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party. In a clearly provocative act they now want to ban the some 1.5 million Arabs within Israel from celebrating this day and would threaten anyone doing so with jail terms. This is nothing new for Lieberman and his mob who have openly called for Arab Israelis to swear allegiance oaths to the state and even “voluntarily forfeit” their citizenship in exchange for land. Such policies are clearly aimed at “transfering” the remaining Arabs that reside within Israel’s borders and finishing the job that the Zionist project started. To announce proposals on such a day should be roundly condemned for the grotesque insensitivity that they represent.
In another article in Haaretz , Palestinian participation in this day is trivialised and reduced with a cheap dig at the division between the two main political factions in the Palestinian territories: Hamas and Fatah. “Only 2000 turn out….for March held by Hamas” reads the headline, while the top line refers to the “dispersal” of Palestinians during the so-called “War of Independence”. However, not mentioned (which is noted in the Lieberman article), is that many ceremonies were in fact held a day early because May 15 falls on Friday, the Muslim day of rest. Why let this get in the way of having a dig at Hamas while downplaying the anguish that 61 years of injustice has already caused eh? The description of “dispersal” is also particularly euphemistic, as if the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians merely faded-away or quietly scattered from their villages, rather than the terrorization and intimidation that they were subjected to by Irgun and Haganah thugs.
As ever Al Jazeera is one of the few media outlets which recognises that the narrative of the Jewish state began with an ethnic cleansing in 1948, which aimed to erase the history of an entire people and falsely create that of another. We hear how the Palestinian suffering caused during the Gaza war invokes memories of the first Nakba. “61 years and we are still waiting to return,” said one man displaced with his family in a makeshift tent. “Our grandfathers told us the stories about their catastrophe and sadly it is now our turn to tell our children and their children about our catastrophe.” One unfortunate note is that the journalist in the report refers to how hundreds of thousands of Palestinians “fled”, as opposed to being “expelled” by Israeli forces, as was ordered by the future Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Some thoughts in favour of plain speech concerning Zionism.
The numbers of the dead don’t mean much any more. It was round about the five hundred mark when I realised the impact of death on my mind was lightening. There are pictures on the internet – burning half bodies, a head and torso screaming, corpses spilt in a marketplace like unruly apples, all the tens and tens of babies and children turned to outraged dust – but how many pictures can you keep in your heart? How much anguish can you feel? Enough anguish to mourn 500 human beings? And of what quality can your anguish be? Can it be as intense as the anguish a bystander to the murder would feel? As intense as that of a friend of a victim, or of a father? What about the fathers who have seen all their children burn?
I remember the days when I was outraged if ten were killed in one go. Ah, happy days! Ten in one go would be good. But of course, this is what the enemy wants: the enemy wants us to value Arab life as little as it does. It wants us to stay in our numbness, to descend deeper in. It wants us to forget.