Israeli Independence Plus Palestinian Catastrophe
Up late writing on Independence Day and Nakba Day.
I had at first decided it would be on Israel’s Independence Day, on liberal Zionism and its imperative and our 68 years of an imperfect but newborn and admirable state and freedom and power over our own lives at last.
For our empowerment, for our liberation, and looking at photos of an early generation having walked onto the beaches onto our new promised land– away from the horrors we left behind toward freedom at last.
Then the most obvious problem. I can’t think how to fit in my Palestinian friends. And their people. And what their justified stupefaction would be. At my tunnel-vision and bias, at having written such a one-sided account.
About the fact that Palestine had been 95% Palestinian, and then suddenly in 1917 came from a foreign continent a so-called “Balfour Resolution” which made the pronouncement – when at the time Britain didn’t have any legal title and not yet a single soldier in Palestine:
“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.”
His Majesty’s government?
How could terms like “imperial” and “colonial” ever have been more apt?
A Balfour declaration which was then re-drafted for incorporation into the 1922 League of Nations’ British Palestine Mandate. A Mandate text that also began that the Mandate had “pleased His Britannic Majesty”.
So that the Palestinians were the only colonized Mideastern Mandate not set on the road — but blocked on the road — to decolonization.
And this year, 2016, nearly a century after the Balfour Resolution, the Palestinians still have no state and no freedom, but are still living in exile from having been expelled and induced or panicked into leaving home.
And yet: This has been Israel’s Independence Day, and the imperative of our 68 years of freedom and statehood and power over our lives at last.
But while The Others live under occupation exile, dispossession, powerlessness, and ongoing settlement and must put up with discrimination, segregation and second-class-citizenship and suffer regular police and army and settlers’ physical abuse, vandalism, bureaucratic delays and harassment, and arbitrary youth detentions
And which right now– appears will last forever and ever.
But obviously for many of my Jewish friends and even a vast majority of my people and even more likely of Israeli Jews this would be seen as an unbelievably extremely negative way to see this day of freedom.
Would see it as especially negative and inappropriately self-critical after centuries of exile and second-class citizenship, abuse, powerlessness and violence against us. Violence that had even intensified to culminate in still worsening Central European and Russian pogroms and — Hitler.
This is the problem with writing about the Independence/Nakba days.
To some of us it is liberation, freedom and power, with our symbols and anthem and laws in accordance with our heart and soul, and our identity symbolized by a blue and white flag of the Star of David.
But obviously to them reduction to exile and occupation under a foreign hostile military regime–or second-class minority status in Israel whose symbols and anthem and many laws go against their hearts and souls.
As if Palestinians felt that their identity was symbolized for them by Hatikvah, their Hope, and the flag of the Star of David.
But what were Jews to do?
Jews went to Palestine from Central and Eastern Europe because of restrictions on emigration to anywhere but Palestine due to an imperialist declaration – which had at least welcomed us, or some of us– to at least one place on earth. To escape certain — inexorable — doom.
To escape intensifying pogroms and facing continental-wide Hitlerism of torture and enslavement and industrial poisonous gas and extinction.
But this had also blocked the expected and deserved Palestinian dream of decolonization, independence and freedom–which everyone else had.
How to write –in one post– about both Liberation Day and Disaster Day?
It’s like writing about a Day you’re in a multiple car wreck with dozens of injuries and deaths—including families’ and many children’s deaths and a suddenly multiplying orphans. When, on the phone, you hear your child’s biopsy shows she’s unexpectedly terminal-cancer-free, while you’re on your way to pick up a winning mass-million-dollar lottery ticket.
After that long day you’re home at your writing desk.
What do you put in your journal about the day?
How’d the day go?
What do you write in your Times of Israel blog?