Opinion |

One Tweet About Rain Stirs Up the Israeli Phobia of Palestinian History

חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli
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Palestinian refugees leaving their village, 1948.
Palestinian refugees leaving their village, 1948.Credit: UNRWA
חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli

Earlier this month, Channel 12 news reporter Forat Nassar tweeted the message: “Downpour of rain around the country,” along with a picture of flooding, which he described as “a picture from Netanya/Umm Khalid.” The usual storm of comment ensued on social media.

Jews were quick to “rat” on Nassar for “noting the name of the Arab village from the British Mandate period.” The anger exceeded all bounds, prompting characteristic pan-Jewish panic. That’s what it’s like when you are determined to conceal and deny portions of history. When it’s revealed in any way, it enrages anyone seeking to live in denial.

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But first, let’s get the facts straight. Umm Khalid wasn’t an Arab village “from the British Mandate period,” as was claimed on social media. Netanya was established next to it in the 1920s. The village’s Arab residents were expelled in 1948, and Netanya then expanded into the village’s land.

In truth, I am convinced that Nassar, a reporter broadcasting to the Jewish mainstream, didn’t have an ulterior motive in his tweet. After all, there are a considerable number of areas and locations in Israel that are customarily called by their prior Arabic names. Just a few examples: Tantura beach, the Hiriya garbage dump (which was established on the Palestinian village of Al-Khayriyya), the Migdal neighborhood of Ashkelon (named after the village of Al-Majdal Asqalan). There are many others.

But the issue in Nassar’s case is different. He’s Arab. It turns out that Jews can use Arab names – at least for some places – but when an Arab uses Arab names, he has to have an ulterior motive: Apparently, he wants to reestablish Umm Khalid on the ruins of Netanya.

The Jewish public’s panic over any mention of a bit of Palestinian history doesn’t engender anger or rage in me. It prompts sadness and pity. Despite the rebuke and aggressiveness, it sounds more like a sign of weakness that Jews are having a difficult time concealing.

The reason is clear: It’s the direct result of the complete adoption of the Zionist narrative. To justify its existence and the horrors inflicted on the Palestinians at the time of the establishment of the State of Israel, it was necessary to consistently obliterate the history of the Palestinian presence in the country. Actually erasing it from the face of the earth. From the standpoint of the Jews in Israel, certainly among the younger generation, history and life and building didn’t exist here during the 2,000 years of Jewish exile.

So just to inform younger Jews who believe that this was the reality, I would like for a moment to describe a scenario in which the State of Israel hadn’t destroyed and cleansed the Palestinian presence to establish a home for Jews in the country, but rather settled in neighborhoods for Palestinians, or heaven forbid, actually in Palestine.

If that had happened, a news bulletin in Israel from November 24 would have sounded like this: “A 47-year-old man was moderately injured in a traffic accident in Ayun Kara; two others were lightly hurt”; “A 31-year-old man from Khirbat Bayt Lid has been accused of sexual offenses against 22 juveniles on the internet”; “In a work accident in Ibn Ibrak, a 53-year-old laborer was pronounced dead”; “Three people were seriously injured when machinery exploded at a plant at Khirbat Ein Shams”; “A resident of Kafr ‘Ata is being accused of incitement to violence against Netanyahu.”

And then, in reference to Jerusalem, the bulletin would end with: “And now, we return the broadcast to our news studios in al-Quds.”

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