Imagine if Germans annually mourned the fact that Nazi Germany lost World War II, and called its failure to wipe out the Jews a “disaster.” This is exactly what Arab extremists and their global supporters do every year when they call the failure to wipe out the Jewish state in 1948 a nakba, or “disaster.”
The Arab nationalist historian George Antonius originally coined the term nakba in the 1920s. Ironically, its original meaning debunks the myth of a historical Palestinian nation: it referred to the separation of British Mandate Palestine from French-controlled Syria. Antonius called this a “disaster” because he defined himself and the local Arab population in British Mandate Palestine as Syrians and an inseparable part of greater Syria.
Losing wars has never been pleasant. This is particularly true when it’s the aggressors that lose. Germany and Japan paid a heavy price for their failed assault on humanity. Nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing countless Japanese civilians. Berlin and many other German cities were destroyed. Several million German soldiers and civilians were killed during World War II. Twelve million Germans became refugees and fled or were expelled from much of Central and Eastern Europe.
By contrast, the nakba myth does exactly the opposite. Seven decades after pan-Arab aggression failed to wipe out reborn Israel, the global nakba cult is the only case in human history in which failed genocidal aggression has been equated with victimhood. While losing their war of aggression against Israel in 1948 was painful for the Arabs, that pain pales in comparison to the price Germany paid for losing World War II. Some 10,000 Arabs were killed during Israel’s War of Independence, the majority of whom were combatants, killed while seeking to kill Jews.
The Jewish people also paid a heavy price to regain its national independence. Six thousand Jews were killed during the War of Independence, constituting approximately one percent of the fledgling Jewish state’s total population.
The Orwellian nakba narrative is false on numerous levels. It denies 3,000 years of uninterrupted Jewish history in Israel while at the same time inventing the Arab “Neverland” called “Palestine.” Secondly, it inverts reality by presenting the Arab aggressors as victims while demonizing the Jews defending their national freedom. The Arab refugee issue did not come about in a vacuum, it was the direct result of the Arab side’s failed annihilationist policy against the Jewish state.
At the time, Arab leaders openly threatened to wipe out Israel. In May 1948, the Arab League’s first secretary-general, Abdul Rahman Azzam, boasted that the establishment of a Jewish state would lead to “a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades.” The genocidal Arab threats against the Jews in Israel were not empty words. In addition to anti-Jewish attacks by local Arab militias, five Arab armies invaded the newly proclaimed State of Israel with the explicit goal of wiping the Jewish state off the map.
Meanwhile, around 800,000 Jews fled or were expelled from the Arab world. Unlike the Arabs who became refugees because of failed Arab aggression, peaceful Jews became refugees because of lethal Muslim Arab Jew-hatred. Most of the Jewish refugees were absorbed by Israel. Some resettled in America and in Europe. By contrast, Arab leaders cynically continue using generations of Arab “refugees” as pawns in order to perpetuate the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Why are Arab refugees fleeing failed Arab aggression considered a “disaster,” while Jewish refugees fleeing Muslim Arab anti-Semitism are largely ignored? While Israel emptied some hostile Arab communities, peaceful Arab communities remained and became Israeli citizens. Israeli Arabs have benefited greatly from freedom and opportunity in the Jewish state. As a result, the Arab population in Israel is today ten times larger than it was immediately after the 1948 war. By contrast, the Muslim Arab world is virtually Jew-free.
Anti-Jewish history revisionism increasingly insists that the Arabs were “secondary victims” of the Holocaust, “paying the price” for the Nazi crimes against the Jewish people. It has also become increasingly popular to equate Israel with Nazi Germany. This immoral narrative is patently false. It ignores that Arab leaders including the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, praised Nazism and encouraged Nazi Germany to extend the Holocaust to the Middle East.
The nakba propaganda ignores systematic Arab aggression against Israel and repeated Arab rejection of a peaceful two-state solution. It pretends that a distinct local Arab nation existed prior to Israel’s rebirth. Above all, it infantilizes Arabs by uniquely exempting them from having to face the universal consequences of failed aggression. Israel’s unfinished War of Independence will only be decisively won when the Arabs are forced to take responsibility for their failed aggression against the Jewish people.
Daniel Kryger is a writer and a political analyst and a Fellow at the Haym Salomon Center.
You can find more in-depth articles on Israel and the Middle East @en.mida.org.il.