Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The False “Nakba” Narrative

Col (Res.) Dr. Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen, besacenter.org, April 16, 201

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Image from article, with caption: 
Nakba Day 2010, Hebron. Sign reads 'Surely we will return, Palestine.' Photo via Wikipedia

Nowadays, the failed Palestinian Arab attempt to destroy the state of Israel at birth, and the attendant flight of some 600,000 Palestinian Arabs, has come to be known internationally as the “Nakba,” the catastrophe, with its accompanying false implication of hapless victimhood. 
This, ironically, was the opposite of the original meaning of the term, when it was first applied to the Arab-Israeli conflict by the Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq. In his 1948 pamphlet The Meaning of the Disaster (Ma’na al-Nakba), Zureiq attributed the Palestinian/Arab flight to the stillborn pan-Arab assault on the nascent Jewish state rather than to a premeditated Zionist design to disinherit the Palestinian Arabs:  
When the battle broke out, our public diplomacy [JB emphasis] began to speak of our imaginary victories, to put the Arab public to sleep and talk of the ability to overcome and win easily – until the Nakba happened…We must admit our mistakes…and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.
Zureiq subscribed to this critical view for decades. In a later book, The Meaning of the Catastrophe Anew (Ma‘na al-Nakbah Mujaddadan) published after the June 1967 war, he defined that latest defeat as a “Nakba” rather than a “Naksa” (or setback), as it came to be known in Arab discourse, since – just as in 1948 – it was a self-inflicted disaster emanating from the Arab world’s failure to confront Zionism. ...
While earlier generations of Palestinian academics and intellectuals had refrained from exploring the origins of the 1948 defeat, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, who was brought to Gaza and the West Bank as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords and allowed to establish his Palestinian Authority (PA) in parts of those territories, grasped the immense potential of reincarnating the Nakba as a symbol of Palestinian victimhood rather than a self-inflicted disaster. In 1998, he proclaimed May 15 a national day of remembrance of the Nakba. In subsequent years, “Nakba Day” has become an integral component of the Palestinian national narrative and the foremost event commemorating their 1948 “catastrophe.” ...
The legitimization of the now common use of the term “Nakba” in the Israeli official and public discourse, whether positively or negatively oriented, provides a service to the Palestinian cause. If considered to reflect an integral segment of Israeli history, the term contradicts Israel’s longstanding, rightful position rejecting responsibility for the creation of the refugee problem. In the process, it legitimizes the false Palestinian victimhood narrative that defines the Nakba as the “greatest sin of the 20th century.”
The “Nakba” is not a fact. It is a manipulative and catchy term designed to service the Palestinian propaganda campaign against Israel. Israel should refrain from legitimizing the term, as it imposes a false sense of guilt or culpability for the creation of the refugee problem onto the state. Nor should the word be used to refer to the mass deportation of Jews from the Arab states, as doing so creates an impression of equivalent injustice. The flight of the Palestinian Arabs was the direct result of a failed “war of extermination and momentous massacre” (in the words of the Arab League’s secretary-general). The Arab states’ expulsion of their Jewish populations was an unequivocal act of ethnic cleansing. ...
Dr. Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen is a retired colonel who served as a senior analyst in IDF Military Intelligence.

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