Opinion |

A New Palestinian Generation

Nakba Day, which was observed this week, marks the 69th year of the Palestinian nation’s disaster, but also of its dignity, capabilities and strength

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Nakba Day, which was observed this week, marks the 69th year of the Palestinian nation’s disaster, but also of its dignity, capabilities and strength.
A musician from a marching band looks on as Palestinians participate in a march to commemorate the 'Nakba Day' in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 13, 2015. Credit: AFP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

But despite it all, what is the Achilles’ heel of the IDF, I was asked by activists of the anti-occupation soldiers’ NGO Breaking the Silence at a meeting discussing the growing sophistication of the Israeli occupation apparatus. I didn’t answer, “You and those like you” – that is, the Israelis trying to spoil the Israeli joy of domination. Disastrously for us, there are not enough of them. Israeli society is closer and more responsive to MK Bezalel Smotrich than to the formerly religious Jews of Breaking the Silence.

The foundations of Israeli society did not tremble at Tomer Persico’s revelation (“Why religious Zionism is growing darker,” Haaretz.com, May 16): Deputy Knesset Speaker Bezalel Smotrich feels secure enough to submit his “decisive plan” in a mythic religious cloak. It turns out that one who talks like a racist and acts like the settlers’ governor for Indian affairs (see the Regavim NGO for expulsion, which he headed), also offers the Palestinians the option of choosing between transfer, apartheid or genocide.

The prime minister did not hurry to reject Smotrich’s remarks. Maybe he didn’t read them. Maybe he didn’t bother being hypocritical. The heads of the Zionist opposition didn’t demand Smotrich’s dismissal, neither did the “moderate” settlers and religious Zionists, at least not publicly, when publicly is the only way that counts. Historians at Yad Vashem did not take a stand, the police did not launch an investigation, nor did they arrest Smotrich on suspicion of calling for genocide. The police are too busy with the Facebook page of a female Palestinian poet. People here who are protesting the gesture of a comedian somewhere in France embrace the resident of the settlement of Kedumim with their silence. In short: Smotrichism is not a foreign language here; it’s a dialect whose speakers are growing. The boots of Israeli society are very thick and the heels are reinforced.

But despite it all, the IDF, the makers of Israeli policy and their many supporters do have a weak spot: the Palestinian people, native to this land. We carried out one big transfer and others not as big, and the fabrication of the “empty land” comes apart every day before our eyes. The pre-1948 map, with its hundreds of villages, has not been erased: Their refugees and the grandchildren of those refugees are working so that the world will be aware of it; to our dismay they are keeping it alive and are persuading more and more circles internationally of their right to return and the feasibility of returning.

They have spread throughout the world. But when five of them get together, from different ends of the earth, they talk as if they had lived their whole lives in the same neighborhood – the same accent, the same memories, laughing at the same jokes, and the same ideological arguments are heard there that are heard in Shefa-amr and Nablus. We don’t allow them to come even for a visit to the land where their grandparents were born and lived, but they are connected to it and know what’s going on here. Many of them have been living for seven decades from nightmare to nightmare. We killed them in the tens of thousands, from close range, from the air and via proxies. There can be no discussion of a post-traumatic condition, when the disaster continues. When we are working to see that it continues.

But we can learn from the Palestinians how to cling to life, invest hope and effort in the young generations, recover, create, build.

The Israelis have missed every opportunity to respond to Palestinian willingness to stop the disastrous cycle. We established an apartheid regime, we fragmented the area that the world defined as a Palestinian state alongside Israel, we built dual systems of infrastructure and law. And see how the Palestinians remain rooted in their land. The deceptiveness with which Israel advanced the colonizing project under the guise of a peace process is beyond the ability of the current Palestinian leaders to defy. And now a new generation of Palestinians is managing to drive Israeli’s lying hasbara crazy. The BDS call, for example.

Nakba Day, which was observed this week, marks the 69th year of the Palestinian nation’s disaster, but also of its dignity, capabilities and strength.

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