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Israeli Independence Produced Nakba Suffering

Written by Subject: Israel - Palestine
Israeli Independence Produced Nakba Suffering

by Stephen Lendman

Yom Ha'atzmaut (Independence Day) commemorates Israel's May 1948 Declaration of Independence.

It's celebrated annually on 5th of Iyar. It's according to the Hebrew calendar. It's preceded by Yom Hazikaron. It remembers fallen Israeli soldiers. It's Israel's Memorial Day.

Palestinians have reason to mourn. Edward Said explained Palestine's "holocaust," saying:

"Every human calamity is different, but there is value in seeing analogies and perhaps hidden similarities."

He called Nazi extermination "the lowest point of (Jewish) collective existence."

Palestinians today "are as powerless as Jews were" under Hitler,, he explained. They're devastated by "power used for evil purposes."

Ilan Pappe discussed Palestine's ethnic cleansing. He explained war without mercy.

He did so in exhaustive detail. He obtained previously suppressed documents. He explained what everyone needs to know. More on what he said below.

On May 6, Haaretz headlined "Israel celebrates 66 years of independence," saying:

"Israelis across the country flocked to public parks and hiking trails on Tuesday to celebrate Independence Day with barbaques and other leisure activities."

"Earlier Tuesday, (unindicted war criminal) President Shimon Peres kicked off the day with the annual sing-along at (his) President's Residence in Jerusalem."

Palestinians didn't join in. They're not singing-along. They've got no reason to celebrate. Awards Peres gave IDF recipients came at their expense.

Festivities began Monday night. Things did so with pomp, flair and bombast. They kicked off the official Independence Day ceremony.

They included a torch-lighting ceremony. For the first time, all torch-lighters were women.

Peres called on Israelis to "be proud, but never satisfied." He stopped short of explaining how much more Palestinian land he covets.

He stole plenty earlier as prime minister. He did through other ministerial posts.

"I remember (Israel's) first days and the dream we had," he said. "I have to admit that the dream was too small when I see the reality that was born out of it."

Other festivities included displaying Israeli military might. The IDF opened some of its bases to visitors. Menacing warplanes overflew.

Israeli recounting of events preceding and following its independence twists truth. It reinvents history doing so.

Its war was well-planned. Palestinians never had a chance. In early March 1948, future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion met with leading Zionists and military officers.

They finalized war plans. It was called Plan D (Dalet in Hebrew). It followed Plans A, B and C.

It bears repeating. It was war without mercy. It reflected Ben-Gurion's earlier plan. "I am for compulsory transfer," he said.

"I do not see anything immoral about it," he claimed. Hundreds of thousands of displaced or murdered Palestinians were considered a small price to pay.

Things unfolded as planned. Independence took six months to achieve.

Arab armies were no match for Israeli strength. False narratives claimed otherwise. Invaders were outmanned and outgunned.

According to Pappe, systematic terror followed. About 800,000 Palestinians were expelled. Doing so reflected genocidal ethnic cleansing.

Hundreds of Arab villages were depopulated. So were 11 urban cities. They included large parts of Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and Haifa.

Many thousands of innocent victims were massacred. Mass rapes and other atrocities were committed.

Palestinian homes, property and belongings were bulldozed, demolished, and/or burned.

Palestinians wanting to return couldn't. They were systematically prevented from doing so.

Horrific Israeli crimes were committed. They matched what convicted Nazis were hanged for at Nuremberg.

They included cold-blooded mass murder. Survivors remember Deir Yassin. Other Palestinian villages were targeted the same way. Wholesale slaughter followed. So did mass displacement.

On April 9, 1948, things began. Israeli soldiers entered Deir Yassin. They did so violently. They machine-gunned houses randomly. Many inside were slaughtered.

Remaining villagers were assembled. They were murdered in cold blood. Children and infants weren't spared. They were treated like adults.

Elderly and infirm victims got no mercy. Women were raped before being killed. Estimates place the death toll at around 120.

An eyewitness said:

"I was (there) when the Jews attacked. (They) closed on the village amid exchanges of fire with us."

"Once they entered the village, fighting became very heavy in the eastern side and later it spread to other parts, to the quarry, to the village center until it reached the western edge."

"The Jews used all sorts of automatic weapons, tanks, missiles, cannons. They enter(ed) houses and kill(ed) women and children indiscriminately. The (village) youths...fought bravely."

Ensuing fighting killed dozens more. Many other villages were attacked the same way. Ethnic cleansing involved mass slaughter and displacement.

It's longstanding Israeli practice. Official policy aims for maximum land with minimum Arabs. "Every attack has to end with occupation, destruction and expulsion," said Ben-Gurion.

He meant displace, depopulate, slaughter. Do it without mercy. Erase Palestinian culture and history.

Replace it with Jewish tradition. Twist truth doing it. Justify genocidal slaughter any way it takes. Current Israeli policy hasn't changed.

Slow-motion genocide replaced decades earlier flank speed. It continues unabated. Forty-seven years of occupation reflect institutionalized persecution.

State terror defines official Israel policy. Palestinians have no power over their daily lives. They're terrorized. They live in fear for good reason. They face:

economic strangulation;

collective punishment for being Muslims, not Jews;

loss of basic freedoms;

Gaza under siege;

enclosures by separation walls, electric fences and border closings;

regular curfews, roadblocks, and checkpoints;

bulldozed homes, crops and orchards; as well as

arrest, imprisonment, and torture without cause.

They endure assaults, extra-judicial assassinations and punitive taxation.

They're denied basic services. They're essential to life and well-being. They include healthcare, education, and living-wage employment.

It's enough nourishing food and water. International tribunals don't help. Occupation harshness persists.

Zionism's roots began things. It became international in scope. Its founder Theodor Herzl said:

"We must expropriate gently the private property on the state assigned to us."

"We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border…(We must do it by) denying it employment in our country."

The Al-Nakba Awareness Project (ANAP) involves volunteers with limited resources. They partner with likeminded local, regional and national organizations.

They're committed for truth and justice. They support universally recognized human and civil rights. They want rule of law principles enforced.

They want Palestinians recognized as victims. They want longtime denied justice reversed. Without it, regional peace is impossible.

Separate isn't equal. Years ago, two states were possible. No longer, they believe. Israel controls over 60% of West Bank land. More is added daily.

It vows to seize all of Jerusalem. It wants it as Israel's exclusive capital. One state for all its people equitablely is the only just solution.

Separating people by religion and/or ethnicity unfairly reflects institutionalized apartheid.

A so-called "Jewish and democratic state" is Orwellian. It's oxymoronic. It faux democracy. It's solely for Jews.

ANAP endorses "an integrated, egalitarian state with freedom and equal rights for all its citizens."

Arabs must be treated no less fairly than Jews. Zionism is enemy to Jews and non-Jews alike.

It's ideologically over-the-top. It surpasses the worst of South Africa's deplorable past. It's white, Jewish supremacist.

It's incompatible with fairness. It denies justice. It's heading Israel for self-destruction.

Systems short of viability can't survive. "A house divided against itself can't stand," said Lincoln. Forty-seven years is a historical blink-of-the-eye heartbeat.

Israel must repudiate Zionism, ANAP believes. It must "transform itself into a normal, multi-ethnic, constitutional democracy…" It must treat all its people equitably and fairly.

It must move beyond daily struggles. It must renounce war and other forms of violence.

It must embrace peace, equity and justice. It must govern without prejudice to survive.

Israel falls short and then some. It has a choice. Change or eventually perish. There's no in between.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

4 Comments in Response to

Comment by J E Andreasen
Entered on:

Ilan Pappe, huh.  

Comment by J E Andreasen
Entered on: 

Comment by J E Andreasen
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The 1920 "Nakba" (Steven Plaut) From the Jewish Press (excerpts):

The authoritative source on the origin of “nakba” is none other than George Antonius, supposedly the first “official historian of Palestinian nationalism.” Like so many “Palestinians,” he actually wasn’t – Palestinian, that is. He was a Christian Lebanese-Egyptian who lived for a while in Jerusalem, where he composed his official advocacy/history of Arab nationalism. The Arab Awakening, a highly biased book, was published in 1938 and for years afterward was the official text used at British universities.

The term was not invented in 1948 but rather in 1920. And it was coined not because of Palestinians suddenly getting nationalistic but because Arabs living in Palestine regarded themselves as Syrian and were enraged at being cut off from their Syrian homeland.

Before World War I, the entire Levant – including what is now Israel, the “occupied territories,” Jordan, Lebanon and Syria – was comprised of Ottoman Turkish colonies. When Allied forces drove the Turks out of the Levant, the two main powers, Britain and France, divided the spoils between them. Britain got Palestine, including what is now Jordan, while France got Lebanon and Syria.

The problem was that the Palestinian Arabs saw themselves as Syrians and were seen as such by other Syrians. The Palestinian Arabs were enraged that an artificial barrier was being erected within their Syrian homeland by the infidel colonial powers – one that would divide northern Syrian Arabs from southern Syrian Arabs, the latter being those who were later misnamed “Palestinians.”

The bulk of the Palestinian Arabs had in fact migrated to Palestine from Syria and Lebanon during the previous two generations, largely to benefit from the improving conditions and job opportunities afforded by Zionist immigration and capital flowing into the area. In 1920, both sets of Syrian Arabs, those in Syria and those in Palestine, rioted violently and murderously.

On page 312 of The Arab Awakening, Antonius writes, “The year 1920 has an evil name in Arab annals: it is referred to as the Year of the Catastrophe (Am al-Nakba). It saw the first armed risings that occurred in protest against the post-War settlement imposed by the Allies on the Arab countries. In that year, serious outbreaks took place in Syria, Palestine, and Iraq.”

The original “nakba” had nothing to do with Jews, and nothing to do with demands by Palestinian Arabs for self-determination, independence and statehood. To the contrary, it had everything to do with the fact that the Palestinian Arabs saw themselves as Syrians. They rioted at this nakba – at this catastrophe– because they found deeply offensive the very idea that they should be independent from Syria and Syrians.

In the 1920’s, the very suggestion that Palestinian Arabs constituted a separate ethnic nationality was enough to send those same Arabs out into the streets to murder and plunder violently in outrage. If they themselves insisted they were simply Syrians who had migrated to the Land of Israel, by what logic are the Palestinian Arabs deemed entitled to their own state today?

Comment by J E Andreasen
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"Nakba" didn't originally mean what Arabs say it means The first time that the word "Nakba" was used by an Arab in the context of the 1948 war was by Lebanese Arab nationalist Constantine Zureiq.

Barry Rubin notes:

Constantine Zurayk was vice-president of the American University of Beirut. His book was entitled The Meaning of the Disaster. Here’s the key passage:

"Seven Arab states declare war on Zionism in Palestine, stop impotent before it and turn on their heels. The representatives of the Arabs deliver fiery speeches in the highest government forums, warning what the Arab states and peoples will do if this or that decision be enacted. Declarations fall like bombs from the mouths of officials at the meetings of the Arab League, but when action becomes necessary, the fire is still and quiet, and steel and iron are rusted and twisted, quick to bend and disintegrate.”

This is the old style of Arab discourse. Zurayk openly acknowledged the Arab states rejected all compromise, made ferocious threats, and invaded the new state of Israel to destroy it. For him, the “nakba” taught that they needed to modernize and democratize their system. Only thoroughgoing reform could fix the shortcomings of the Arabic-speaking world. What happened instead was another 55 years of the same thing, followed by this new era opening last year which will probably also bring a half-century of the same thing. Nakba has become the opposite of what Zurayk wanted it to be: Blaming your opponent rather than acknowledging your own shortcomings and fixing them.

...The nakba concept of which Zurayk wrote was much broader, the Arabic-speaking world’s failure to embrace modernity, science, real democracy, an other such things. In that respect, every day is a nakba and 2011 was not the year of the “Arab Spring” but the year of renewing the nakba strategy. It is a self-inflicted nakba and the victims are the Arabic-speaking people themselves.

What did Zurayk think about Zionism and its triumph? Here’s what he wrote:

“The reason for the victory of the Zionists was that the roots of Zionism are grounded in modern Western life while we for the most part are still distant from this life and hostile to it. They live in the present and for the future, while we continue to dream the dreams of the past and to stupefy ourselves with its fading glory.”

“To dream the dreams of the past and to stupefy ourselves with its fading glory.” Isn’t that precisely what the Nakba concept is used for today? To say: we cannot make a compromise peace because those horrible Israelis were so mean to us more than 60 years ago. We are victims. We want revenge. We dream of total victory.

And those dreams and that stupefying guarantees failure for the Arabs, and most of all the Palestinians, today.

If Zurayk were alive today he’d be an Arab liberal fighting radical Islamism. Zurayk wanted the Arabs to learn from their mistakes.
As usual, Rubin is right. The coiner of the term "nakba" had an entirely different meaning in mind. To him, "nakba" doesn't mean Israel's victory in 1948, but Arabs' failure to solve their problems. Here's how Nissim Rejwan summarized Zurayk's book in 1988:

Immediately following the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948-1949 a number of Arab writers and thinkers, profoundly shocked by the defeat the armies of five Arab states suffered at the hands of what the Arabs called "the Zionist bands," set out to analyze the causes and draw the lessons of the debacle. Foremost among these was Constantine Zureiq, a Lebanese professor of history and a prolific political writer with strong Arab nationalist leanings. His book on the subject, Ma'na al-Nakba (The Meaning of the Disaster), was published soon after the outbreak of the war— August 1948 — and was mainly a work of self-criticism. The battle against Israel, he wrote, will not be won "as long as the Arabs remain in their present condition." The road to final and complete victory, he added, "lies in a fundamental change of the situation of the Arabs, in a complete transformation in their modes of thought, action and life." Subsequently, writing in 1966. Zureiq was to observe that the Arabs still had a long way to go to attain their goals in Palestine. He also coined a new term, 'ilm al-nakba —the science of Catastrophe or, better still, catastrophology — adding that the Arabs must now approach their problems with Israel "in a scientific Way."
The word had nothing to do with refugees. It meant that, just as today, Arabs blamed others for their own self-inflicted problems.

I believe that the first time that the word "catastrophe" was used in reference to the refugee problem by Palestinian Arabs was in a letter from the Arab Higher Committee to the UN in May 1949, where they said:
The Arabs believe that the United Nations Organization which is the author of the partition plan, is responsible for the catastrophe that has befallen the Palestinian refugees. As such it is the duty of the United Nations to remove the injustice done to the Arabs. We submit that by removing the cause of the problem of the refugees, the United Nations will have substantially solved their serious problem.
Meaning that they wanted to UN to dissolve Israel, supposedly as a means to solve the refugee issue.

This is how the word is used nowadays - as a means to destroy Israel, not the way the coiner of the term intended it, as criticism of the Arabs.  

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