Friday, May 17, 2019

Palestinian narrative and the need to rethink the ‘nakba,’ not repeat it - by Jonathan S. Tobin

A rethinking of why the “catastrophe” happened is essential to the sea change in Palestinian political culture that is a necessary precondition for their leaders to be able to accept peace. But as Tlaib’s remarks made clear, the sad truth is that they are still not ready; they are still unprepared to think honestly about their tragic past.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
16 May '19..

The debates about Holocaust references made by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) are starting to die down. Like almost everything that happens these days, partisanship was far more important in determining the outcome than the substance of the controversy. The Palestinian-American congresswoman engaged in some outrageous historical revisionism and an attempt to cast the creation of Israel as a Nazi-like crime in which innocent Palestinian Arabs were made to pay for the sins of others. But Democrats, including some of its most stalwart pro-Israel members, were not prepared to censure someone like Tlaib, one of her party’s young rock stars, even if they would have condemned without reservation any Republican who had used those same words.

But there’s more to this story. Tlaib’s comments matter because they are an accurate reflection of the way Palestinians think about history. They fit in perfectly with the rhetoric of this week’s commemoration of “Nakba Day,” in which the “tragedy” or “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation—and the subsequent dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Arabs—is lamented in full force.

“Nakba Day” is the inverse reflection of Israel’s Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day). There’s no denying that what happened 71 years ago, when the Jews regained sovereignty over part of their ancient homeland, was a tragedy for Palestinian Arabs. By the time Israel’s War of Independence ended, several hundred thousand Arabs had fled from or been forced out of their homes. It was a consequence of the bitter fighting that resulted in the deaths of 1 percent of the total Jewish population, in addition to the subsequent expulsion of an equal number of Jewish refugees from their homes in the Arab world.

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