So what does the Jewish Nakba mean to you?

The merry month of May is upon us, and thoughts on the anti-Zionist lunatic fringe turn to Nakba Day on May 14. Time for the Zochrot organization to plan their annual stunt in memory of the ‘catastrophe’ or Nakba, of the flight of 600,000 Palestinian Arabs and the creation of Israel 67 years ago.

This year activists are organizing a ‘Public Apology Ceremony‘, funded by EU money and the lucre of earnest but misguided churches and NGOs, to commemorate the Nakba at the former site of the village of Lubya, near Tiberias. The organization says that the ceremony is to apologize for Israel planting trees in the area.

Last year they held a conference at Tel Aviv university, the putative site of the ruined Arab village of Sheikh Munis. There Zochrot laid out their ugly vision of what ‘the right of return’ for Palestinian Arabs to what is now Israel would mean. It was, in anybody’s book, a recipe for bloodshed and mayhem.

Zochrot have produced a short video clip to promote their mission: “So wait a moment, what is the Nakba?” Unsuspecting Israelis strolling on the Tel Aviv tayelet are quizzed on what the Nakba means to them.

I don’t know what is more worrying. The appalling ignorance of the Israeli public in this video — or the fact that Zochrot are asking the question in the first place.

In an altercation on Facebook with Eitan Bronstein Aparicio, one of the Zochrot leaders, I pointed out that the Palestinian Arabs were victims of their own leadership. Had the Arabs won the 1948 war, members of Zochrot, along with all the Jews of Israel, would surely have ended up at the bottom of the Mediterranean sea. And what did Zochrot think about the Jewish Nakba, I asked — the 870,000 Jewish refugees driven and dispossessed from Arab countries? Why were Zochrot exercised by one injustice, but coolly indifferent to another?

Eitan’s reply charged that, as someone who lived in the ex-colonial power of Britain, how could I lecture them on the colonial usurpation of native rights? Modern nations loved to re-invent themselves by evoking ancient myths, he declared. As a good po-mo radical, Eitan had read the book ‘Imagined nations’ by Benedict Anderson.

Except that in this case, I shot back at Eitan, the true natives were the Jews. It was only a generation or ago and not in the dim-and-distant past, that these indigenous Jews, whose communities had for the most part resided in Yemen, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, etc, for 1,000 years before Islam, had been uprooted, in greater numbers than the Palestinian Arabs, from their countries of birth and been forced to seek refuge in the Jewish state.

I’m still waiting for Eitan’s rejoinder.

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)