The Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians consider the Nakba as a pivotal event in their history. Nakba refers to the trauma of the failure of the mighty Arab nation to wipe out this little blotch on the map called Israel. We Jews had the gall to come home and rebuild our ancestral indigenous homeland on a place the colonizing Arabs still wanted for themselves. Prof. Gabriel Motzkin, director of the Van Leer Institute, as sympathetic as he is to the “Palestinian” cause, is quoted as having said:
“. . . the Palestinians didn’t exist before the Nakba, they came into being because of what was a traumatic event for them.”
This flies in the face of the propaganda the so-called “Palestinians” are broadcasting around the globe, arguing that they comprise the indigenous nation in the land, pre-dating the Jews. Some, such as Saeb Erekat, even raise the ridiculous claim that the “Palestinians” are, in fact, the original Canaanites and that his ancestors inhabited the oldest city in the world – Jericho – 9000 years ago. There is no record of Canaanites for the past 3000 years, but historical evidence, or lack thereof, has never prevented the “Palestinians” from periodically weaving ever new fabrics of lies to present as if it is historical fact.
History shows that the Arabs (including the likes of Erekat’s family) originated from the Arabian Peninsula. Strange coincidence, eh? Arabs – Arabia. Go figure!
This same history shows that the Arabs invaded surrounding countries, pillaging and plundering as they went, taking slaves, killing those who refused to convert to Islam or to accept jizya status. That history means that the Arabs in the land that later fell under the British Mandate of Palestine were actually conquerors and colonialists and they arrived here in the 7th century CE, long after the Jews had already established their kingdoms between episodes of being overcome and dispersed. Today’s Israel is only one in a series of Jewish independent states on the land in which our national identity was forged.
The Jews, therefore, are the oldest living population that had sovereignty over the land. Even in dispersal we maintained our language in prayer, our traditions and spiritual life, our ties to the homeland to which we longed to return. Jews over historical time have also been called Israelites and Hebrews: Jew-Judea, Israelite-Israel, Hebrew-our indigenous language. Makes sense, no?
So we see that in typical conqueror-colonialist fashion, the Arabs are trying to rewrite history to suit their need to dominate and wrest this land from us once more. They have not succeeded militarily and now they are crying “foul” and trying to do it with diplomatic, political and propaganda manipulations. They have also convinced themselves that they are the victims here.
The ironic part of this whole story is that the pan-Arab nation, itself, created a new entity for its pawns – the New Palestinians, let us call them. I find it hard to deny that the Arabs who were here in 1948 have since come to view themselves as a people apart from the larger Arab People. Much as I might not like that fact, there is now a Palestinian Arab identity separate from the Arab nation from which they sprung. (It is not clear, however, how sustainable that identity would be if Israel were, in fact, to fall.)
Much to their misfortune, however, they have adopted the twisted stories and accepted the victim status endowed to them by the domineering and manipulative shenanigans of those who have been exploiting them from the start, blaming Israel for all that has gone wrong. When will they wake up to their true history and collectively identify their true oppressors?
They were goaded into joining the war against the Jews in 1947-8, refused full integration into Jordanian society in spite of many of them being Jordanian citizens, and forced to waste away in refugee camps in other Arab countries, robbed of their human dignity. All this for the promise of wiping out us Jews. I wonder if the loss of a future for their kids is worth all the moaning over a past they cannot change and which they insist on perpetuating.
I am curious about the psychology of a people that is willing to call itself by a name they used to detest as it was what their enemy the Jews were called. How humiliating is that!
I wonder about a people that is willing to define itself from the get-go as a failure: The Nakba as their defining event of nationhood means that failure and trauma is what they have decided to define themselves by. In contrast, the expulsion from Spain, the Holocaust and the ethnic cleansing from Arab countries do not define us Jews. We were a nation long before these tragedies. We have a history with ups and downs, with successes and failures, with heroes and villains.
Are the New Palestinians ready to re-evaluate what defines them? Do they really want terrorists to be their heroes? Do they want victim-hood to be their badge? Do they not want scientists, doctors, innovators and artists, for example, to be the face they present to the world?
If the New Palestinians decide to stay stuck, unlike their namesake, then they are not able to partner with Israel as it strives onward toward a better future world. That future world is not suited to victims who glorify being the underdog while begging the other nations around the globe to beat up their big brother for them.
I wonder if, generations from now, the New Palestinians will be brave enough to face the truth – that those guilty of their oppression have been their fellow Arabs. Those responsible for putting stones and knives in their hands instead of the tools for earning a living are their fellow Arabs. Those who fill their kids’ heads with dreams of jihad instead of dreams of a worthwhile profession are their fellow Arabs.
As long as the Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians buy into the myth that Israel is their enemy they remain complicit in their own continuing exploitation at the hands of their fellow Arabs. That is their true Nakba.
Sheri Oz is a retired psychotherapist living in Israel for 38 years. Always interested in politics and international affairs, she now has time to study and write about it to her heart’s satisfaction. She often writes on her own site, Israel Diaries.