On Friday, May 15, Palestinians and their supporters worldwide mark Nakba Day, mourning the nakba (catastrophe) of the creation of the State of Israel.
Lost amid the stories of genuine family loss and displacement will be an honest accounting of how this situation came to be and who continues to perpetuate it today. News coverage tends to focus on fiery Nakba Day speeches and demonstrations, shown without context or analysis.
Here are ten questions I would like to see savvy reporters pose:
1. To the Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza: Why do you continue to peddle the fiction to your people that you will destroy Israel? Why do you dangle keys to homes that are long gone instead of preparing your people for the inevitable compromises that peace demands of both sides?
2. To the 25,000 or so people employed by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East): Do you exist to resolve the refugee problem or perpetuate your own bureaucracy? Countless other refugee situations have been resolved since 1948, included the resettling of 800,00 plus Jewish refugees of Arab lands. Why does the Palestinian refugee issue remain unresolved?
3. To the Palestinian media: How will Palestinian children ever learn to live in peace with Israelis if they are taught Jew-hatred from the youngest age? Palestinian Media Watch offers a depressing catalogue of the hate-fest on television, radio, and social media.
4. To Arab leaders in the Middle East: How has your autocratic rule benefited from having Israel serve as an external enemy, as a way to redirect your people’s legitimate anger away from your own unfree, failing societies? In other words, if, God forbid, Israel disappeared tomorrow, how exactly would your people’s lives be better?
5. To the UN: Why are the millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees also counted as refugees, a definition that has not been applied to any other refugee group?
6. To the supporters of BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) here in the US: Continued delegitimization of Israel teaches Palestinians that they do not need to make any compromises in order to reach a peaceful resolution to this long running conflict. How exactly does this benefit them?
7. Anti-Israel campus activists: Participating in a “Nakba Day” demonstration might feel edgy and fun. How do Palestinians benefit from more hatred and more propaganda? How do your actions help them toward a better future?
8. To the Palestinians: Do you realize that your leaders have utterly failed you?
9: To the Israelis: Can you feel empathy for what Palestinians have lost, suffered, and endured over the years? The chaos and danger of war caused people to become refugees for all sorts of reasons. Your belief in Israel’s right to exist, in Israel’s necessity, is not diminished by acknowledging how its birth affected others who were also living in the land at that time.
10: And last, to everyone and anyone: Where is the Palestinian leader who will stand up and say, “Our war with the Jews is over. We are going to build a future for ourselves. The right of return endures, but it is a right we will choose not to exercise. We are going to build an amazing state next to Israel. Put your old keys away. It’s time to look forward and not back.”