web analytics
October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

No End to a Self-Inflicted Tragedy

Palestinians during a rally in the West Bank town of Ramallah, 15 May 2007, to mark the 59th anniversary of the 'Nakba,' or 'catastrophe', that refers to the creation of the state of Israel.

Palestinians during a rally in the West Bank town of Ramallah, 15 May 2007, to mark the 59th anniversary of the 'Nakba,' or 'catastrophe', that refers to the creation of the state of Israel.
Photo Credit: Ahmad Gharabli /Flash90

Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah/Palestinian Authority has just cemented a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, the terrorist movement that seized Gaza from Fatah in 2007 and whose charter calls for the murder of Jews.  U.S.-brokered Israeli/Palestinian negotiations have foundered in a predictable round of recriminations.  But events commemorated in recent weeks provide the clue to understanding why such talks invariably lead to an impasse.  On May 15, Palestinians marked what they call the naqba (Arabic for “catastrophe”) – the day Israel came into existence upon the expiry of British rule under a League of Nations mandate.

That juxtaposition of Israeli independence and naqba is not accidental.  We are meant to understand that Israel’s creation caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs. 

But the truth is different.  A British document from early 1948, declassified last year, tells the story: “the Arabs have suffered … overwhelming defeats[.] … Jewish victories … have reduced Arab morale to zero and, following the cowardly example of their inept leaders, they are fleeing from the mixed areas in their thousands.” 

In other words, Jew and Arabs, including irregular foreign militias from neighboring states, were already at war, and Arabs fleeing, even before Israel came into sovereign existence on 15 May 1948.

Thus, what is now called the naqba consisted not of Israeli forcible displacement of Arabs, but of neighboring Arab armies and internal Palestinian militias responding to Israel’s declaration of independence and Britain’s departure with full-scale hostilities.  Tel Aviv was bombed from the air, and the head of Israel’s provisional government, David Ben Gurion, delivered his first radio address to the nation from an air-raid shelter.

Israel successfully resisted invasion and dismemberment – the universally affirmed objective of the Arab belligerents – and Palestinians came off worst of all from the whole venture.  At war’s end, over 600,000 Palestinians were living as refugees under neighboring Arab regimes.  As Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, writing in Arab Newsput it the other week, “[i]t was a defeat but the Arabs chose to call it a catastrophe.”

Accordingly, the term naqba is misleading.  Indeed, it smacks of falsehood, inasmuch as it implies a tragedy inflicted by others.  The tragedy, of course, was self-inflicted. 

As Israel’s U.N. ambassador Abba Eban was to put it some years later, “[o]nce you determine the responsibility for that war, you have determined the responsibility for the refugee problem. Nothing in the history of our generation is clearer or less controversial than the initiative of Arab governments for the conflict out of which the refugee tragedy emerged.”

However, the Palestinians do not mourn today the ill-conceived choice of going to war to abort Israel.  They mourn only that they failed.

This is contrary to historical experience of disastrous defeat.  The Germans today mourn their losses in the Second World War – but not by lauding their invasion of Poland and justifying their attempt to subjugate Europe.  They do not glorify Nazi aggression.

The Japanese today mourn their losses in the Second World War – but not by lauding their assault on Pearl Harbor and their attempt to subjugate southeast Asia.  They do not glorify Japanese imperialism.

The very existence of naqba commemorations is therefore instructive in a way few realize.  It informs us that Palestinians have not admitted or assimilated the fact – as Germans and Japanese have done – that they became victims as a direct result of their efforts to be perpetrators. 

About the Author: Dr. Daniel Mandel is director of the Zionist Organization of America's Center for Middle East Policy.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “No End to a Self-Inflicted Tragedy”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Abbas and the Temple Mount: "It's mine, all mine. No Jews allowed.
Abbas Declares Closure of Al Aqsa Mosque a ‘Declaration of War’
Latest Indepth Stories
Which glass has the poison?

The White House wanted to defame Netanyahu, undermine his reputation, impugn him & his policies

Adolf Hitler and the representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, December, 1941.

Palestinian anti-Semitism in 2014 is more extreme and mainstream than German A/S in the 1930s.

Sheldon Silver

Woven deeply through it all is the Jewish obligation to fight injustice.

Cravatts-Richard--new

Only in the inverted world of academia would Jewish professors denounce the AMCHA Initiative report.

Many poskim were and are adamant about the responsibility of every individual to vote.

Individuals who may have been abused are the “clients” in need and receiving care and protection.

An accomplished Torah scholar and ardent adherent of Bobov chassidus, he was renowned for his self-effacing dedication and skills as an international lawyer and law professor

The fact that the United States government after World War II sought to take advantage of the expertise of German scientists, even those known to have contributed to the Nazi war effort, is well known and largely accepted as having been necessary for America’s national defense. (Wernher von Braun is perhaps the most famous and […]

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

The birth I speak about is to give birth to ourselves, to our full potential.

The extreme hypocrisy, contempt & vulgarity of the attacks indicate more than a policy disagreement

More Articles from Daniel Mandel

Confidence building measures have proven to be obstacles to peace.

Palestinians during a rally in the West Bank town of Ramallah, 15 May 2007, to mark the 59th anniversary of the 'Nakba,' or 'catastrophe', that refers to the creation of the state of Israel.

The Palestinians do not mourn their decision to go to war to abort Israel. They mourn that they failed.

The other week, responding to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech that envisaged creating a demilitarized Palestinian state, perennial Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said, “I told President Obama that solving the crises of the Arab and Muslim worlds goes through Jerusalem.”

The archconservative Patrick Buchanan has never found an isolationist cause, other than the anti-anti-communist one, that he didn’t like. First he penned A Republic, Not an Empire to make the case for American active disengagement from the world’s woes but, apparently unheeded, this hasn’t sufficed.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/no-end-to-a-self-inflicted-tragedy/2014/06/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: