‘Nakba Day’ is a catastrophe for reconciliation

May 15 is ‘Nakba’ Day, when Palestinians and their supporters mourn the ‘catastrophe’ of Israel’s creation. Already demonstrators are gearing up to march.  Articles and reports are flooding the media.

Some of these articles, in the guise of ‘balance’, will make allusions to the Nazi Holocaust. ‘Moderate’ Arabs such as Professor Mohammed S Dajani Daoudi, have earned Jewish praise for fighting Holocaust denial. Jews admired him when he was vilified by his own side and forced to resign for taking a group of Palestinians students to Auschwitz.

But recognizing the Holocaust does not mean that you recognize the right of Israel to exist. Dajani’s Facebook page is replete with references to the injustice of the ‘nakba’. His line of thinking is: “We Palestinians recognize the Holocaust. Time for you Israelis to recognize the iniquity of the Palestinian Nakba. Put another way – how unjust it is for displaced Palestinians to ‘pay the price’ of Jewish suffering in the Nazi Holocaust ….’

But to set the nakba alongside the tragedy of the Holocaust is to trivialize the greatest tragedy the Jewish people have ever known. Now at last comes a genuine voice of moderation to add logic and historical fact to the argument: Bassam Eid, Palestinian human rights activist. Nakba Day is fetishization of the displacement of 750,000 Palestinian Arabs to incite perpetual war. He writes: “They have weaponized the memory of displacement and transformed it into an ideology of genocide.”

“The very fact of Israel’s existence, Eid observes, “was branded a “catastrophe”— but not the displacement that affected both sides in the subsequent war, which included the ethnic cleansing of all Jews from what became the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. And during and after Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from Arab lands; that is, in fact, the true ”nakba’.

Once a third Jewish, Baghdad has three Jews today. Almost all MENA Jewish communities, which had tens or hundreds of thousands of Jews, are on the verge of extinction. The Arab world has seen more displacement than almost any other region, as modern refugee populations from Iraq and Syria can attest, Eid points out. Palestinian Christians have diminished drastically. Minorities are under pressure.

But swathes of world opinion are in denial about the Jewish ‘Nakba’. Arab states have never acknowledged that a mass violation of Jewish rights took place, much less admitted guilt or offered compensation. Over 100 UN resolutions relate to Palestinian refugees; not one to the more numerous Jewish refugees.

What is especially painful is that Israel’s own elite army of moral narcissists – bleeding hearts, far left academics and media outlets like Haaretz – collude with the purveyors of the Palestinian ‘Nakba‘ narrative, while wiping from memory a trauma that afflicted their own Jewish people. This can only pour fuel on the flames of hatred, while perpetuating a monopoly of Palestinian victimhood.

If we are to talk ‘displacement, ’ the comparison between the two ‘Nakbas’ — one Arab, one Jewish — is appropriate: an exchange of roughly equal refugee populations took place, as was common in 20th century conflicts.

For Bassam Eid, “Nakba Days part of the victimhood problem, not part of the forward-looking solution. Reconciliation happens only when both sides take a step back and acknowledge joint suffering. “Nakba Day” does the reverse.” The sooner Nakba Day is abolished, the better.

Amen to that.

About the Author
Lyn Julius is a journalist and co-founder of Harif, an association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa in the UK. She is the author of 'Uprooted: How 3,000 years of Jewish Civilisation in the Arab world vanished overnight.' (Vallentine Mitchell)
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