Let’s bust Naqba myth that’s justified 75 years of slaughter

The next time you are re-packing your hand luggage or lacing up your trainers at an airport, do keep in mind the words of Billy Joel’s anthemic We Didn’t Start The Fire as a reminder that Palestinian terror on the airlines starting in the 1960s – airport massacres, multiple hijackings and numerous attempts at bringing down passenger aircraft with bombs or missiles – is why we have serpentine queue and multi-billion-pound security systems at airports across the globe.

But Palestinian terrorism was not limited to the airlines. Oh no, long before the slaughter, butchery, beheadings and burning alive of 1,400 Israeli men, women, children and babies on Oct 7th,  there was 76 years of bombings and slaughter in Israel. But even ignoring that we surely cannot ignore the slaughter and bombings perpetrated by Palestinians (or by Islamic extremists in loco) around the world, including Mumbai, Buenos Aires, Paris, Rome, Madrid, London and even New York, where the 9/11 attacks were – in part, at least –  claimed to be “justified” by American support for the world’s one Jewish state.

However, all of this is somehow excused. So what twisted logic excuses – or even glorifies  – this seven-decade orgy of terror, while the legitimate and precise  defence by the world’s one Jewish state of its citizens against bombs, rockets and, on Oct 7th, the mass slaughter, butchery, rape and abduction of its civilians (including babies), prompt calls for its annihilation, or calls for indictment for war crimes?

The obvious answer is plain old-fashioned antisemitism and Jew-hate. But while many rabid Israel-haters started out as antisemites, and many have become antisemitic as they have been sucked deeper into pro-Palestine “activism,” Jew-hate alone doesn’t explain this strange double-standard in tolerance for terror, because some quite fervent anti-Zionists are Jews. And however tempting it is to dismiss them all as “self-hating Jews,” not all are, so there still has to be another explanation.

And there is one: their perception of Israel is erroneous. It is based on their unexamined, uncritical acceptance of the Palestinian narrative of victimhood that was set down in roughly 1948 and has, through the years, been carefully enhanced, embellished and gilded by an assortment of willing hand-maidens, from BBC journalists to UN officials, politicians and so-called human-rights groups.

So for all the anti-Zionist Jews, for all the hand-maidens plus the stand-up comedians, academics, trade-union officials, doctors, KCs and luvvies who are bewitched by the narrative; and for every gullible Ivy League under-graduate and every climate “champion” who has deluded him- or herself into thinking he/she/they are on the right side of history when calling for the annihilation of the world’s one Jewish state as it defends itself from existential threat; and for every person who believes that the slaughter, butchery and rape of Oct 7 is “justified” by the version of history they have heard or thinks that that version of reality “excuses” Palestinian terrorism, let’s examine the narrative. In particular, let’s take a hard look at the origin story and the myth underpinning the narrativ, Naqba (“the catastrophe”). Naqba has been the key plank of the myth, driving hate for Israel for 76 years. Let’s bust the myth.

The first thing to know about Naqba is that it is essentially antisemitic. In fact as most Jews know – and in truth, anyone with an IQ higher than their shoe-size should know – the entire Palestinian narrative is antisemitic, playing strongly into (and carefully feeding off) millennia-old antisemitic tropes. But Naqba, the gigantic grievance at the core of the narrative, digs deep into racist tropes to portray Jews as usurpers and land-grabbers and Palestinians as the “victims” of Jewish “wealth,” “power” and “control.”

The second thing to know about Naqba is that it is a myth. Though containing a few grains of truth and failing to feature multi-headed creature, its absurd refusal to acknowledge Arab territorial dominance and its cavernous omissions make it about as useful as a record of real events as Norse mythology would serve as a guide to Sweden’s history.

At almost the exact same time as the Palestinian Arabs left/fled/were driven out of Palestine, some 900,000 Jews left/fled/were driven out of Arab lands.

While it is undeniable that 700,000 Arab Palestinians left/fled/were driven out (choose your preferred verb), two crucial and equally undeniable facts are always conveniently ignored in this “myth” that’s the main supporting pillar of the narrative: the first undeniable fact is that – as proved by every population census, every archaeological dig and every genuine historian – Jews lived continuously in Palestine (known at different times as Israel and Judea) from Bible times onwards, making it demonstrably false (and, frankly laughable given the slightest knowledge of the Old or New Testament) that Palestine was “exclusively” Islamic/Arab/Muslim and Jews were “colonisers”–as claimed in the narrative.

The second undeniable fact that is always firmly excluded from the myth is the inconvenient truth that would put a completely different spin on the geo-politics and history, which is that at almost the exact same time as the Palestinian Arabs left/fled/were driven out of Palestine, some 900,000 Jews left/fled/were driven out of Arab lands.

This was equally catastrophic for the those 900,000 Jews. But as they were not “encouraged” to stay in refugee camps set up on the Egyptian or Iraqi borders (or on the borders of any of the other dozen or so Arab states which drove out their Jews), they were not able to fulfil their potential propaganda value as visual-aids to the persecution of Jews by Arabs and the reason why a Jewish homeland is so vital.

But they dispersed to diaspora communities or were absorbed into Israel because, if not, using the same statistical methods that the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) used to determine that there are now 14.3 million Palestinian “refugees,” we would find that those 900,000 Jews expelled from Arab lands now number some 18 million – or perhaps 10-12 million if we adjusts for social and economic factors.

Maybe with hindsight, it was somewhat foolish to encourage all those Jewish refugees to make new lives in new countries, or they might have shown a deluded world that the Palestinian narrative is built on a deeply flawed myth while also pointing out that Jews are being persecuted and demonised for wishing to remain in their ancestral homeland.

Their presence may also have highlighted the fact that the region’s history has been  manipulated to promote spurious claims of  Palestinian ownership and air-brushed to promote spurious claims of  Palestinian “victimhood,” as well, obviously, used to  “justify” 70 years of murderous terror against Israel and across the world.






About the Author
Jan Shure held senior editorial roles at the Jewish Chronicle for three decades. and previously served as deputy editor of the Jewish Observer. She is an author and freelance writer and wrote regularly for the Huffington Post until 2018. In 2012 she took a break from journalism to be a web entrepreneur.