I wonder about a “People” that is willing, from the get-go, to define themselves as a failure: The Nakba is, for the Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians, their defining moment. The Arab defeat against Jewish upstarts who had the audacity to reclaim their ancient homeland, is the pivotal event that turned a group of long-term residents, remnants of the Muslim colonial take-over of ancient Israel (among other lands), together with more recently arrived economic migrants into a supposed nation.
If there was any doubt about the formative nature of the massive defeat of the Arabs on “Palestinian” nationhood, Prof. Gabriel Motzkin, director of the well-known think-tank, the Van Leer Institute, acknowledges the connection:
. . . the Palestinians didn’t exist before the Nakba,” they came into being because of what was a traumatic event for them, he said.
Nakba = Failure
Is that traumatic defeat of the Arab nations sufficient to determine a new nationhood for a small segment of the vanquished?
Well, only if you want to use those particular human beings as pawns with the ultimate goal of wiping out the Jews. Think of it — had the Arab states absorbed the refugees who fled from the war-torn area (regardless of WHY they fled), there would be nobody claiming Palestinian statehood now. There just would not be.
Since that is the case, let the entire Arab World commemorate their Nakba — in their own states! But not here in Israel.
I refuse to respect an event, a particular interpretation of which is being used to deny the legitimacy of my people’s homeland. I can empathize with other people’s traumas. I refuse to honour them, or even acknowledge this as part of a legitimate “narrative” merely because that is the politically correct thing to do. If I am in Jordan or Egypt or Syria or Saudi Arabia or any other country that is marking the Nakba, their defeat at the hands of the Jews, and the nation stands still for a minute of silence, I will stand still out of respect to the country I am visiting (my meandering thoughts, of course, will be quite different from those around me, I am sure).
We do not need to permit Nakba demonstrations on Israeli soil where “Nakba” means failing to have killed off my people.
Nakba = Wallowing in Victimhood
I am open to discussing the emotional, sociological and historical impact of the defeat of the Arabs with my fellow Arab citizens of Israel and of surrounding nations. I would happily do so, in fact. There is much I want to work out within myself regarding my own biases, misunderstandings and insufficient knowledge. Unfortunately, I have so far had the experience that I must admit to Israeli guilt for Arab misfortune/miscalculation from the outset of any discussion at pain of being labeled a racist and dismissed. I would hope that such a discussion could include an exploration of many Arab Muslims’ willingness to be defined by failure and for their statehood to be established on victimhood.
Some would say that Israel was founded on the Holocaust (Jewish victimhood) but that is simply not true. It is a convenient lie some tell in order to diminish us as a nation. What is ironic is that many of these same people also deny the Holocaust itself. Go figure!
While both the Holocaust and the expulsion of about 800,000 Jews from Arab countries were traumatic events, these were not nation-forming. We were a nation long before that — we are an ancient nation. And the point is — those who call themselves Palestinians today were not a nation before the Nakba; in fact, most of them refused to call themselves Palestinians before the 1980s, when the tactics for trying to exterminate us Jews changed.
Nakba = Humiliation & Exploitation
So again I ask: why would Arabs, for whom honour is above almost all else, humiliate themselves so by accepting a self-definition based on failure?
Can They Turn Nakba on Its Head?
I can actually imagine a young proud Arab nation based on redefining itself as the state of the Arabs who were smart enough to turn around having been used as pawns into becoming a modern democratic nation. Can they pick up that gauntlet and face a brave new world alongside the proud modern democratic Jewish nation?
A New Palestine that wanted to be defined by success and achievement would be a People that would truly be a partner in peace. As it is, the bravest thing they have done is stab us in the back. Where is the honour in that?
Feature Image Credit: Wikimedia
This post was first published on Israel Diaries.