Nakba…The Tragedy That Didn’t Have To Be

Nakba 1948 Palestine – Jaramana Refugee Camp, Damascus, Syria. Photo: Courtesy/Wikipedia

Source: Ekurd Daily, by Gerald A. Honigman , March 30, 2018

As I write this, just hours away, Passover 5778/2018 will begin.

This year is special for all sorts of reasons…

For one thing, there will be, G_d willing, four generations of my family at the seder table, including three grandchildren three years and under. And, as we say “next year in Jerusalem” at the end of the festive meal celebrating G_d’s deliverance of our people some thirty-three centuries ago from Egyptian bondage, this year it will have exceptional meaning since America, thanks to President Trump, has now officially recognized at least part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and prepares to move its embassy there. Amazingly, this will happen less than a month from now.

Anticipating this historic moment, it’s thus been hard to concentrate, as I should, on Passover. My mind is elsewhere, so please allow me to elaborate…

The opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem will take place on the day Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its rebirth, April 19th this year–a beautiful present for myself as well as Israel. I was born within the very same week that Israel was reborn in 1948, so I guess you could say that we have sort of grown up together.

Yet I also know that Arabs will be readying their usual response to dampen the festivities of Yom Ha’atzmaut on the following May 15th. Since Jews follow a lunar calendar, the actual May 14th date of Israel’s independence falls out on a different date on the Western calendar each year. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s backtrack a bit.

Lett’s start out with a question: When is a catastrophe not so?

When it is–or was–totally avoidable and brought about primarily by the oppressive attitudes and actions of the alleged victims themselves.

Such is the case with what Arabs call their “nakba,” celebrated each year on May 15th.

While tragedy indeed occurred, it was ironically born mostly of an oppressive, racist attitude and mindset which declared that none besides Arabs–be they scores of millions of Kurds, Copts, Imazighen/”Berbers,” Assyrians, Jews, black African Sudanese, or others–were worthy of political and/or even basic human rights in the region when the empire of the Turks, who ruled the area for over four centuries, was dismantled by the Allies after World War I.

Since the wars of the Jews for their freedom against Rome some two thousand years ago, culminating in Emperor Hadrian renaming Judaea Syria Palaestina after the Jews’ historic, non-Semitic enemies, the Philistines, to supposedly put an end to Jewish hopes once and for all, the region was ruled by one empire after another. When Arabs burst out of the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century C.E., they too ruled for the next few centuries via their Caliphal empires based in Damascus and Baghdad. During this period they conquered, settled, occupied, and forcibly Arabized much of the region.

You see, for Arabs, imperialism is only nasty when someone besides themselves are in control…Which brings us back to the genesis of their nakba.

For years, we’ve heard Arafat’s allegedly “moderate” successor, Mahmoud Abbas, both on Nakba Day and others as well, place the usual guilt trip on the Jews for the Arabs’ own refugees and predicament after the combined Arab attack on Israel in May 1948..

And each time he and his friends repeat this, it’s useful to contrast their later comments with some Abbas made some decades ago.

The current darling of the West stated in Falastin a-Thaura in March 1976…

“The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians…but instead they abandoned them, forced them to leave…and threw them into prisons (refugee camps) similar to the ghettoes in which Jews were earlier forced to live.”

Reading this–and volumes of other well-documented earlier evidence, much of it from Arab sources–it’s hard to buy into Abbas’ and other Arab claims that the Jews sought to turn them into homeless victims. Indeed, that evidence overwhelmingly shows that the Arabs themselves were primarily responsible for the flight and predicament of their own refugees.

After hostilities erupt in any conflict, no one is squeaky clean side nor can claim sainthood. When bullets and bombs start to fly and comrades start to fall, too often all Hell breaks loose. But if Arabs had not promised another Holocaust and their armies had not invaded Israel in 1948, not one Arab refugee would have been created. Israel lost 1% of its entire population at that time.

Arabs want Jews to say that they were wrong and admit original sin for wanting in one tiny state the same rights and dignity that Arabs demand for themselves in some two dozen of their own. And “moderate” Abbas, Israel’s alleged “peace partner,” insists that Israel commit suicide by allowing the return of millions of the descendants of these folks.

Do Arabs acknowledge original sin for denying some 40 million truly stateless Kurds the one best chance they had at independence after World War I, when British petroleum politics colluded with Arab nationalism to abort Kurdish dreams? Or when they gassed and slaughtered Kurds by the hundreds of thousands over this past century for keeping those dreams alive?

Do Arabs acknowledge original sin when they outlawed the majority Amazigh/Berber population of “Arab” North Africa their culture and language and murdered those who wouldn’t be Arabized? Or when they oppress, murder, and intimidate the pre-Arab, native Copts of Egypt?

While the world seems to have finally opened its eyes–if ever so slightly–to Arab genocidal atrocities in the Sudan, I see no Arabs beating their chest over this real catastrophe either. Blacks are still being slaughtered, raped, displaced, and enslaved by Arabs in Africa. And there are other examples of true original sin which Arabs think absolutely nothing of. And why should they? In many, if not most, Arab eyes, the entire region is simply “purely Arab patrimony.”

And regarding those “Palestinian” Arab refugees who suffered the nakba?

Consider the following…

When the United Nations Relief Works Agency–UNRWA–was set up to assist Arab refugees, so many alleged “native Palestinians” were recent arrivals themselves into the Palestinian Mandate that UNRWA had to adjust the very definition of the word “refugee” from its prior meaning of persons normally and traditionally resident to those who lived in the Mandate for a minimum of only two years prior to 1948. Please understand the meaning of this.

Now also keep in mind that for every Arab who was forced to flee the fighting that Arabs started, a Jewish refugee was forced to flee Arab/Muslim lands (where they were commonly known as kilab yahud, “Jew dogs”) into Israel and elsewhere…but with no UNRWA set up to assist them. Half of Israel’s Jewish population consists of these people. And as just a few of many other examples, the New York metropolitan area alone now has tens of thousands of Syrian Jewish refugees and their descendants, and most of France’s post-Holocaust Jewish population consists of Jewish refugees from “Arab” lands as well.

As for those “native Palestinians,” Arafat himself was born in Cairo, Egypt. Scores of thousands of other Arabs came from Egypt earlier in the 19th century with Muhammad Ali and son’s Ibrahim Pasha’s armies and many, like Arafat a bit later, settled in Palestine. Hamas’ patron saint, Sheikh ‘Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, was from Latakia, Syria…a neighbor of those Syrian Jews above.

During the Mandate period after World War I, the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission recorded additional scores of thousands of Egyptian, Syrian, and other Arabs–with one of the world’s highest birthrates–entering into Palestine and settling there. It is estimated that for each one of these incoming Arabs who were recorded, many others crossed the border under cover of darkness into one of the few areas in the region where any economic development was going on because of the influx of Jewish capital. They would later become known as “native Palestinians” while hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from those same “Arab” countries–Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Yemen, and so forth–would be branded “settlers.”

While there were some native Arabs also living in a highly depopulated Ottoman Turkish Palestine (many travelers, including Mark Twain, spoke of the land’s desolation and depopulation), many, if not most, of the Arabs were also relative newcomers–settlers–themselves. And there were Jews whose families never left Israel/Judaea/Palestine all along despite the tragedy of the Roman wars, forced conversions of the Byzantines, Crusades, and the subsequent great Diaspora as well.

The point, of course, is that if any people needed the protection of their own nation state in the age of nationalism to end their own perpetual nakba, it was the Jews. And the evidence indeed shows–despite Arab nakba parades, accusations, and such–that the Jews sought to achieve this in a just and honorable way. Arabs made off with the lion’s share of the original 1920 Palestinian Mandate when Colonial Secretary Churchill created Transjordan from 80% of the total area in 1922. Arabs then rejected a partition plan in 1947 which would have given them about half of the remainder. They have rejected plans to even turn over more of the land to them since…So much for nakba fairy tales about Jews getting all of Palestine.

Now consider, please, a question that needs to be asked but rarely is…especially by the “experts” who teach this stuff in academia where the double standard regarding Israel reigns supreme

What compromises did Arabs offer to any of their own perceived competitors? The latter either submitted to various degrees of Arab subjugation or were slaughtered.

The plight of the Arab child, kept by his elder brethren as a political pawn in their perpetual war to deny Jews their own tiny share of justice, thus suffers for all of this. And for that Arab sin, I am truly sorry.

But it is hard for a knowledgeable, truly objective observer to support a people who deny all others the same dignity that they themselves seek. This is especially so when you consider that what’s at stake here is the creation of the Arabs’ 22nd state…on a total of over six million square miles of territory.

The sole state of the Jews consists of less than one quarter of one percent of the land in the area…a state that you would be hard pressed to find on a world globe without a magnifying glass. Yet the Arabs still insist that their new state will arise in place of Israel–not beside of it–as a quick look at any of their maps, websites, and such shows…whether “moderate” Abbas’s Fatah’s or Hamas’s. Or try listening to or reading a sermon given by one of their imams.

In contrast to the Arabs’ largely self-inflicted nakba, forced conversions, being branded the deicide people or killers of prophets and being treated accordingly, inquisitions; demonization, dehumanization, ghettos, blood libels, massacres, expulsions, the Holocaust, and existence as perpetual stranger in someone else’s land became the plight of the “Wandering Jew”–his own nakba…But not of his own making.

It is estimated that as many Jews were killed prior to the Holocaust, slaughtered in the Muslim East (beginning with Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, himself) as well as in the Christian West, as were killed during the Holocaust..

Would that he had possessed some two dozen other states like Arabs have, there would have been no need for the rebirth of Israel. But the Jew did not possess even one state, let alone almost two dozen.

The sad reality is that the alleged Arab nakba occurred because Arabs insisted that the millennial nightmare of the Jews should continue into perpetuity. No compromise was feasible with “their” kilab yahud Jew dogs in the Dar ul-Islam. Nor with anyone else either.

Had Arabs been willing to grant Jews a small slice of the same human dignity and justice that they themselves demand, their own nakba could have been avoided or resolved decades ago.

May the year ahead see many peoples’ nakbas be peacefully resolved.