Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Nakba Denial - Then (Part One)

It is beyond me to understand how anyone with average intelligence can deny the Holocaust. The evidence is overwhelming. The testimony of many witnesses and the scars they bare are literally “undeniable.” It is also beyond me to understand how anyone with average intelligence can deny the Nakba. (The word means “catastrophe and refers to the Palestinian narrative of Israel’s treatment of the native inhabitants of Palestine. A better word might be the “atrocity. ) The evidence is overwhelming. The testimony of many witnesses and the scars they bare are literally “undeniable.” Alan Hart, a personal friend of Golda Meir and British journalist writes, “In my view, Nakba Denial – denial of Zionism’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine – is as obscene and as evil as Holocaust denial.”[1]

Hart tells of traveling with a Jewish friend to meet Golda Mier. They visited for five hours. They both loved it. Yet, in spite of the bond of friendship sealed by years of working and socializing together, his Jewish neighbor would not read Hart’s book. “If what I believe about that war (1967) is not true, everything crumbles,” he explains.[2]

To deny the holocaust, one has to swim against the stream and choose ignorance. On the other hand, Nakba Deniers may simply go with the flow and be carried along by the media, the Zionist lobby and the Christian Right Fundamentalists. If we remember the Holocaust to insure “never again,” then awareness of the Nakba, which is still very much alive, becomes the essential ingredient to “peace.” Yet, the Nakba of 1948 lurks unnoticed, like the pink elephant in the room in any discussion of the “troubles in the Middle East.” It taints every celebration of Israel’s right to exist. We often hear of the miracle of making the desert bloom. We seldom hear the rest of the story. It is a painful history. But it must be acknowledged if we are to ever understand the rage of the Palestinians.

At the founding of the State of Israel, acts of violence were designed to frighten Arabs into fleeing for their lives. One of the best documented examples was the village of Deir Yassin. On April 9, 1948, in the struggle to rid the land of Arabs, the Stern gang, headed by Yitzak Shamir, and the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, conducted the massacre of the Arab village of Deir Yassin. Jews claim 100 people were killed, Arabs say it was 250. The commander of the Haganah, Zvi Ankori described what he witnessed:

I saw cut-off genitalia and women’s crushed stomachs. It was direct murder. Soldiers shot everyone they saw, including women and children. Parents begged commanders to stop the slaughter, to please stop shooting.[3]

No one denies that most of those slashed to death were women and children. Jewish terrorist shot people on their homes and threw their bodies into the streets as a message to neighboring Arab villages. Survivors of the raid tell stories of Israeli soldiers starting to kill early in the morning and continuing all day. They killed everyone they saw, including old people and children. One pregnant woman had her stomach cut open with a butcher’s knife.[4]

The attack on Dier Yassin dramatically widened the gulf of hatred and fear that separated Palestinians and Jews. Zionists say it was not terror, it was war, even justified by their Scriptures. “We have no alternative...we were just defending our land.”[5] Begin himself wrote:

Out of evil, however, came good. This Arab propaganda spread a legend among Arabs and Arab troops, who were seized with panic at the mention of Irgun soldiers. In the results it helped us. Panic overwhelmed the Arabs of Eretz Israel...Kolonia village...was evacuated overnight. Bethlehem was also evacuated.[6]

Deir Yassin was not alone. Village after village felt the sting of Israeli massacres. Unwanted villages were destroyed., Out of more than 550 villages in the territory occupied by Israel, only 121 survived. The rest were taken over by Jews or bulldozed. In the first wave of immigrants, approximately 200,000 Jews moved into abandoned Arab houses. Jewish children played with toys the Arab children had left behind when expelled from their homes.

By the end of the fleeing, only 165,000 of over 800,000 Arabs remained in Israel. Many were forced to march in blood soaked clothes through the streets of Jerusalem past jeering on-lookers, never to be seen again.[7]

The Nakba of 1948 was as if I interrupted your church service, walked up front and announced, “I am from the United Nations and we, (without your vote,) have decided to give North Georgia back to the Cherokee Indians.
No, you can’t go home to collect your belongings. Your home is no longer yours.
No, there will be no compensation.
No, you do not have time to find your children. You are to load up on the bus we are providing for you. Just follow the young men with the machine guns. Of course, this is all for your own good, you understand. You will spend this night in a barbed wire compound. Tomorrow you will be force marched over the hills. Some of you, especially the elderly will die on the march. Parents may be separated from your children, and some of you will never see your little ones again or even know what happened to them.
You are to be placed in a Refugee Camp and most of you will live behind cement barrels and barbed wire for the rest of your life. You have never committed a crime, nor have you ever been tried in any court. You just happened to live in a land that Israel wanted.

By the way, the U.N. is prepared to take care of you. In fact, the U.N. is going to spend eleven cents a day to provide you with food, shelter, clothing, health care and education for your children.[8]

You will wait every day for the world’s conscience to rise up and come to your defense, but to this day, that has not happened. In fact, most of the power brokers of the world think all this is a good idea and will donate $16 million a day to help the Cherokees break up all this concrete and tear down all these ugly parking lots and restore North Georgia to the “garden” it was before all you white folks moved in and messed it up.
You will be maligned, misrepresented, stereotyped as thieves and terrorist and frankly, the Cherokees and those who feel guilty for your mistreatment wish you would simply go away.”[9]

May 15, 1948, the State of Israel was declared by the United Nations, giving 56 percent of the land to Israel; including all the coast land, the cereal and industrial lands. Palestinians were pushed up into the hills or locked up into refugee camps. Many of those who survived are still there, in some cases looking across the hills at the homes that used to be theirs in which Jews now live. In the early years of confinement, Palestinians would sneak back into their home territory to harvest their own crops or steal food for their families, only to be labeled “thieves” and “lawless scavengers” by their Jewish occupiers.

Arnold J. Toynbee said, -

The treatment of the Palestinian Arabs in 1947 and 1948 was as morally indefensible as the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis...though not comparable in quantity to the crimes of the Nazis, it was comparable in quality.[10]

General history, even filled with facts and numbers, can leave us a little detached. It came across more disturbing when told by a guest in my home. When he was nine years old, his father gathered the family together. “A monster named Hitler up in Europe has been killing Jews. He is dead now but he took their money and homes from them. Soon,” father told them, “some who escaped from him will be coming to Palestine. We are going to help them get re-established. In fact, a family will probably move in with us until they can build a home of their own.”
Young Elias Chacour was excited. It was fun moving clothes and belonging out of one side of their house to make room for ‘their cousins.’ After all,” father said, “We all came from Abraham. They are our blood brothers.”
But, they did not come in as guest. Zionist soldiers had no interest in sharing anything. They broke into his house, pulled his mother by her hair and rounded up the villagers of Biram into a barbed-wire compound, leaving their homes, possessions and even loved ones behind. Elias and all the people of Biram were forced to spend days and nights on the wet and rocky ground in a nearby olive orchard. A week later, they walked over the hills to the small cross-road village of Gish. “You will live here,” the Israeli soldiers barked. “Biram is not your home anymore. It is ours. Come back and you will be shot!”
What happened to the people of Gish? No one knew until a few days later, Elias was playing ball with his friends, as nine year old boys would do, when someone knocked the ball down into a dry ravine. He ran to retrieve the ball, reached down and suddenly saw a hand sticking out of the ground. He had just discovered the people of Gish. They had been murdered and buried in a mass grave.”.

Multiply the story of Biram and Gish by thousands of Palestinians who in the coming years of Israel’s new power and every nine year old Elias kid can tell of being frightened, accused of hiding weapons, called terrorists and beaten by Jewish soldiers, all for the State of Israel, while the world looked to other way.

This partial part of the story of Nakba 1948 is disturbing. But it is a part which must be remembered if there is every to be peace and security for Israel and Palestine. The popular, sanitized version only feeds to anger, mistrust and violence.

Thomas Are
August 4, 2010

[1] Alan Hart, Zionism, The Real Enemy of the Jews. Volume Three, Conflict without End. (Clarity Press, Atlanta, 2010) p. 366.
[2] Hart, Ibid., p.370.
[3].Lanni Brenner, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revolutions From Jabotinsky to Shamir, (Zed Books, Ltd. 1984). P. 97. And Ralph Schoenman, The Hidden History of Zionism, (Veritas Press, Santa Barbara, California, 1988) p.33.
[4].Quoted in David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Root of Violance on the Middle East, Faber and Faber, 1977) p. 141. Cited in Clifford Wright, Facts and Fables: The Arab-Isreli Conflict, (London, Kegan Paul International. 1989) p.19
[5].”Rights Group Accuses Israel of Violence Against Children in Palestine Uprising,” The Washington Post, May 17, 1990.
[8] Alan Hart, Arafat, Terrorist or Peace Maker, (Sidewick & Jackson, London, 1984) p. 95.
[9]. Read it for yourself. Read Blood Brothers, by Elias Chacour, The Iron Wall, by Avi Shlaim, and Paul Findley’s Deliberate Deceptions, and Israel’s Sacred Terror, by Livia Rokach, Justice and Only Justice, by Naim Ateek, Healings, by Rabbi Michael Lerner. This history is well documented by reputable historians and scholars.
[10].Na’im Ateek, Justice and Only Justice, Orbis Press, Maryknoll, New York, 1989.) p.32.

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