Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ben Dror Yemini: The double Nakba


Reconciliation will only be achieved when the Arab world stops deceiving itself and takes responsibility for the double Nakba  - both the Arab one and the Jewish one, argues Ben Dror Yemini in Ynet News:


 The train of Return - in the West Bank

Sunday was the day the Arab world commemorated the Nakba. One can and should participate in the sorrow of those who became refugees and remained so to this very day. They lost their homes and property. They were denied basic human rights. And many of them, because of what is happening in Syria, have become victims once again. Moreover, one must look bravely at history.

In the first half of the 20th century, with the fall of the empires, nation states began to take shape. The Ottoman Empire, which became Turkey, began the process of expelling minorities. It started with the expulsion of the Armenians that turned into a genocide. It continued with a huge wave of population exchanges in Europe and Asia. At least 52 million people went through that experience. That was the norm. Even the Permanent Court of International Justice, the highest international jurisdiction in those years, ruled that it was a proper arrangement. Until the adoption of the Geneva Convention. What was until then considered the norm had suddenly become a war crime.
 
Calls supporting transfer were also heard from the Zionist movement, but they were fewer compared to those coming from Europe. In any case, Arab opposition to the UN partition plan of November 1947, declarations of destruction and the invasion of Israel immediately after its independence was declared, led to 711,000 Arabs – at the time they were not called Palestinians - becoming refugees. Most of them fled. Some were deported.

Jews also became refugees. Many leaders in the Arab world spoke menacingly of the imminent destruction awaiting the Jews of Palestine and Arab countries if the partition plan was approved. The Arab League passed a resolution that, in practice, turned the Jews into hostages. A series of pogroms against Jews in Arab countries have made it clear that a chapter in history had come to an end. The Jewish minority in the Arab countries, which numbered one million people, was mostly forced to flee. It was the Jewish Nakba.

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