For Arabs, anti-Zionists and Jews-hating-Jewish-nationalism, Israel’s Independence Day, May 15, according to the Gregorian calendar, is “Nakba Day” (although as The Elder of Ziyon pointed out, “Arabs suffered many military defeats in history. The only reason that their 1948 loss was considered a nakba, a “catastrophe,” is not because they lost, but because they lost to Jews”).
The original intent of the Arab who originated the nakba concept has been repressed by today’s champions of Nakba. In Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq’s 1948 pamphlet “The Meaning of the Disaster” (Ma’na al-Nakba), he denied that the catastrophe was the result of a premeditated Zionist design, writing, “We must admit our mistakes … and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot. … The defeat of the Arabs in Palestine is not a small downfall [naksa]. … It is a catastrophe [nakba] in every sense of the word.”
And he added: “Seven countries go to war to abolish the partition and to defeat Zionism, and quickly leave the battle after losing much of the land of Palestine—and even the part that was given to the Arabs in the Partition Plan.”
Could that result have been avoided? Were the Arabs of British Mandate Palestine open to other avenues of conflict resolution?
With this background, I think it instructive to review U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) recent remarks. In an interview, starting at 27:25, she engaged in a bit of what I would term the disordering of history.
“ … when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors—Palestinians—who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports … just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time. And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways, but they did it in a way that took their human dignity away and it was forced on them.”
Tlaib’s revisionism goes so:
- Arabs of Palestine were punished and suffered because the Jews required a safe haven due to “horrific persecution … at that time.” Not a state or their reconstituted national home.
- That suffering was mainly due to the Holocaust (and here I am giving her the benefit of the doubt, as she could have been thinking of earlier pogroms as Arabs viewed Zionism from the late 19th century as only being a result of anti-Semitism, rather than an age-old vision of restoration).
- The Arabs both “provided” that haven, even though it was “forced on them.”
Despite sharp criticism, in a follow-up tweet, she added: Policing my words, twisting & turning them to ignite vile attacks on me will not work. All of you who are trying to silence me will fail miserably. I will never allow you to take my words out of context to push your racist and hateful agenda. The truth will always win.
The simple truth is that Arabs were constantly, consistently and continually violent in their relations with Jews. Before the Balfour Declaration and after. Before the Six-Day War and after. Arab terror was a principle (“Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine,” Article 9 PLO Covenant). The object was to kill Jews. The object still is to kill Jews. There is no differentiation between soldier and civilian or “settler.” All Jewish residential locations are “colonies” and “settlements” within Green Line or in Judea and Samaria.
What Tlaib is pushing is not only a cover-up of the historical record, which I will summarize shortly; she is fashioning an old message into a new narrative form. It is that thanks to the Arabs that Jews have a home. And that message can work, Tlaib believes, not only because she will hammer away at it—bolstered by a sophisticated support apparatus and the nigh-ignorant young Jewish demographic that could and should take her on but doesn’t—but because simply she leaves out all the unhelpful aspects of that period.
Murderous Arabs riots in which Jews lost their lives and property, during which Jews were injured and women raped, took place, initiated by Muslim and Christian Arab communal and religious leaders in 1920, 1921, 1929 and for almost three full years during 1936-39. After 1933, that violence was increasingly funded by both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. It was purposefully in support of a racial anti-Jewish ideology adopted by local Arab leaders.
And it was successful, politically, in that it convinced the British Mandatory to severely restrict Jewish immigration into the country thus causing Jews to be stranded in Europe, prey to Hitler’s genocidal program.
Arabs were actively involved in the Holocaust. The Mufti planned crematoria in the Dothan Valley.
Jews had been purchasing back their country from a people who had conquered it and disenfranchised the Jews from it for centuries. Arabs only benefited from the Jewish return to Eretz Yisrael. If there had been a sense of willingness to compromise, the Arabs would still be where they were in 1947.
Tlaib, however, in this most recent rhetorical maneuver, is seeking to hide and pervert the true historical record. And this is not done for the sake of hindsight but to lay the groundwork for the future. She observes Jewish students reciting Kaddish for Hamas terrorists. She sees Jews leading the BDS struggle. She reads the “as a Jews” fawning before the idea of a “Palestinian people,” and she can only conclude that they are figuratively and literally “blind in Gaza”.
She can only presume that if Jews today ignore Arab violence, why not then cleanse the Arabs of Palestine from all their violence? Brush over the Mufti’s pro-Nazi sympathies, his support for the pro-Nazi revolt in Iraq, his pro-Nazi broadcasts over years while in Berlin, his raising an armed Muslim force to fight the Allies. If that can be accomplished, Tlaib has robbed Jews not only of their ability to know historical fact, but their sense of morality.
For if Arabs, first and foremost, choose violence and prefer conflict to its resolution and reject all possible compromises, why should a Jew, from a morality perspective, prefer to support that unless his sense of the historical record has been undermined? Unfortunately, it is not only Jewish ignorance that assists efforts such as those of Tlaib.
Perhaps worn down, perhaps seeking escape from their ethnicity and religion and culture, Jews—and not only students—seek to be embraced by those who intend to harm them.
Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israeli journalist and commentator.