Friday, May 13, 2011

How two peoples dealt with their nakbas

Stop wailing about your nakba, Charlie Wolf tells the Palestinians in this mind-blowing column in Jewish News. Overcome adversity, as the Jews from Arab lands did with their nakba - for nakba is, above all else, a state of mind:

It is time the Palestinians and their supporters stopped living the lie of the naqba. It is time (to recall) the true narrative of history and the suffering on both sides, but particularly that of the Jews for hundreds of years under Muslim rule.

The stories of the pogroms, killings and ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab lands up to and immediately after the creation of the state of Israel must be told.

My fellow Jewish News columnist Michelle Huberman (who writes on page 19) [See post immediately below], and the group Harif should be commended for bringing the stories of the forgotten refugees to wider attention this Sunday.

Sunday, of course, is the annual Palestinian rite of wailing, gnashing of teeth, and renting of garments. The creation of the modern state of Israel, a modern miracle in the desert, is not celebrated by them - it is the naqba. But their naqba is not the only one and it is not the whole story.

Yes, the naqba happened. But what isn't told is the fact that it was a disaster of the Palestinians' and Arabs' own making. When compared with the naqba, the Jews suffered both in size, scale and the context of the actions. So the story takes on new meaning.

The majority of Arabs to be fair, not all - left Israel voluntarily at the urging of political masters who planned to attack the newborn Jewish state. They thought they would return victorious to a new Arab state (after refusing the UN partition that would have created one) and lost.

The founders of the state of Israel urged them to stay, to participate and to profit from the building of a new country. The Jews across the Middle East, meanwhile, were kicked out or fled pogroms and killings. They were loyal citizens to their countries who were forced to leave with nothing but the shirt on their backs.

As Ms Huberman points out, in terms of numbers, the story is astounding. What they lost in land equals four times the size of the state of Israel. The economic loss by Jews fleeing Arab lands has been put at 6 billion pounds(2007 figures).

The real lesson of the two naqbas though isn't the loss of property, dispossession and loss of citizenship. It is in how two disparate peoples have dealt with their naqbas and where they are today.

One of the reasons many don't talk about the Jewish naqba is because there is no contemporary outward evidence of it. Those dispossessed ended up in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and France.

The majority left for Israel, which soaked up refugees from all over the Middle East and the world like a sponge. They were not put in refugee camps, but were housed and they worked and provided for themselves a new life.

For the Palestinians, the naqba has become a mindset. It plays in to their sense of victimhood. So they wallow in destitution of their own making.

Jews, who have been the real victims of Arab aggression for thousands of years, do not buy into this mindset of victimhood. They overcome.

Maybe the Palestinian naqba is so pronounced, and so celebrated, because it is a nakba of their own making.

Liberal elites, who feed this victim group mentality, only hold them back from the progress they deserve. They have become prisoners to their own narrative.

As the Arab Spring breaks out across the Middle East, instead of wallowing in another naqba commemoration, it is time the Palestinians asked some hard questions of themselves and their Arab and Muslim brothers.

Just why are they still housed in refugee camps when Arab countries have 95 percent of the land mass in the Middle East? Why have they been kept in the camps as political pawns, while Jews from all over the world have lost more but are still able to build an even richer and better life in Israel?

The naqba is a state of mind. It holds the Palestinians back. Even if they somehow conquered all of the land from the river to the sea, they would still be refugees - to themselves.

Only they can end their naqba, cast off its chains, stop being victims and stop blaming Israel for their own problems.

Read article in full


aparatchik said...

One mistake: muslims have not persecuted Jews for thousands of years. They and their ancestors, perhaps, but the Muslims themselves have only been doing it for 1400 years or so. Can't see a way to contact Mr Wolf to correct this.

bataween said...

I'll tell him so!

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

It was not only Arab states that have kept Arab 1948 refugees in refugee settlements [incorrectly called "camps"]. The Western powers too, the USA, UK and others, have funded a special UN agency that serves only Arab 1948 refugees and their descendants. That agency is the UNRWA. The R stands for Relief, whereas there was an earlier agency called UNRRWA. Here the 2 Rs stood for Relief and Rehabilitation. Hence, rehabilitation --which could include resettlement-- was against the UNRWA mandate to keep the 1948 refugees as a separate group. In fact, this was a disguised maneuver by several Western powers to work against Israel by keeping the 1948 refugees in camps as an example of alleged Israeli cruelty and wrongdoing. It is not only Arabs who have been Israel's enemies.