Analogies are sometimes made between the Nakba, the Arabs’ loss of the war of 1947/1948 against Israel, and the Holocaust. It is an atrocious analogy for several reasons, and I would like to suggest a more appropriate one.
While in the Holocaust the Jews were innocent victims of a supremacist regime’s attempt at genocide, the Nakba was the result of an Arab-initiated war. Arabs suffered losses in the Nakba, including the displacement of about 700,000 Arabs and the death of about 7,000, but there was no attempt at extermination of the Arabs who were in any case far more numerous than the Jews. Unlike in the Holocaust where six million Jews were killed while very few Germans died at the hands of their Jewish victims, in the Nakba the losses and displacements were about equal between the two sides.
A much more apt analogy for the commemoration of the Nakba is the commemoration of the Nazis’ loss of WWII. The Nazi enterprise was an attempt to impose a supremacist ideology over Europe while eliminating millions of “undesirables”, among them Jews. Similarly, the Nakba was an attempt to impose Arab supremacy over the Middle East and to eliminate the Jews who had dared to create a tiny state of their own.
The Germans suffered heavy losses as a result of the war that they initiated, and so did the Arabs. In both cases there is much to regret and much to mourn, but there is also in both cases the need to realize who the aggressor was and therefore who must be blamed for the losses.
Those who in Germany have not yet accepted that WWII was the Germans’ own fault and who reminisce over the failure of Nazism are marginalized within German society. Unfortunately, denying the Arabs’ role in causing the war of 1947/1948 and reminiscing over the Nakba is widely accepted and even encouraged by Arabs.
Oh, how far we Arabs have to go before we join the civilized world!
After publishing this article, I learned that a friend had uncovered a story about Brown-RISD Hillel commemorating the Nakba. She wrote the following articles about it. I was frankly shocked that, as she wrote, “Jewish Students are mourning the failure of a genocidal group that tried to annihilate them”. It seems to me that the world’s anti-Semitism is becoming so intense that some Jews, especially young ones, are falling themselves victims to that awful disease. They must wake up while there is still time!