The Nakba - Perpetuating a Lie

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Nakba commemoration rally in Galilee. May 6, 2014. Credit: Gil Eliyahu

The Nakba is a bald-faced lie. No matter how many demonstrations are held in Israel and other parts of the world, no matter how many PLO flags are hoisted, no matter how many Israel Defense Forces soldiers are assaulted by rioters, it still remains a lie. The proof for all to see is the date that the Nakba demonstrators have chosen to mark the day − May 15. That is the day on which the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq invaded Israel with the intention of destroying the nascent Jewish State.

More than the Arab rejection of the November 1947 United Nations resolution on the establishment of a Jewish and an Arab state in Palestine, more than the attack by Arab bands against Jews and Jewish settlements in Palestine that followed immediately upon the passage of the UN resolution, the combined attack of the regular Arab armies on that day − the day on which British rule in Palestine came to an end and Israeli independence was declared − proves beyond doubt that the Nakba, “the Catastrophe,” is a catastrophe that the Arabs brought upon themselves.

With all the sympathy that we can and should muster for the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Arabs in Palestine that resulted from the mistakes made by their leaders and the leaders of the Arab world, mistakes which the local Arab population supported without dissent, those who argue that we in Israel should recognize the Nakba, or even teach it in our schools, are lending a hand to perpetuating a lie and engage in Soviet-style manipulation of history.

George Orwell wrote in his dystopian novel 1984: “those who control the past control the future.” Make no mistake about it, those who perpetuate the Nakba lie are making an attempt to control the future by manipulating the past.

The Palestinian Arabs are not the only Arabs who have suffered as a result of their leaders’ mistakes. Just look at Syria, where the number of casualties and refugees by now exceeds by far the plight of the Palestinian Arabs. Recognition of these mistakes and their tragic consequences is an essential condition for turning a new page to a life of progress and peace.

Germans and Japanese, nations that were devastated by war initiated by their leaders, well understand that they themselves are the guilty ones, not only for the crimes they committed against those they considered to be their enemies, but also for the tragedies that they themselves suffered as a result. Victory in Europe Day, May 8, is not commemorated in Germany as the day of the German catastrophe, and Victory in Japan Day, August 15, is not commemorated in Japan as the day of the Japanese catastrophe. The Palestinians can take a lesson here.

But far more importantly, the recognition by the people of Germany and the people of Japan of their guilt for their own suffering and the suffering of others paved the way to peaceful relations with their former enemies. Peace could not have been achieved without it. The same is true for the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab World. It is only once they recognize that wars and terrorism that they initiated are the root cause of their own suffering and the suffering of others that it will become possible to arrive at a true peace in the Middle East.

The annual Nakba demonstrations are a clear indication that they still have a long way to go before they reach that point. Those who lend their support to the false Nakba narrative of history simply assist in laying obstacles on the path to peace in the Middle East. The Nakba is a lie and peace will not be built on a lie.

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