People who deny the Holocaust are despicable!
- Deliberately ignorant?
- Callously blind?
I knew nothing of نكبة Al-Nakba until recently (perhaps the past 10 years) and confess I feel ashamed of my ignorance. My world history classes in the 1960s in Minnesota certainly taught me about the Holocaust in WWII but the lessons about the Middle East always focused on the founding of Israel (Golda Meir and David Ben-Gurion), never about the horrific ethnic cleansing that occurred.
The Nakba is a crime of historic proportions, when an estimated 750,000 Palestinians were deliberately expelled from their villages, 1000s of men, women and children were murdered, homes and businesses were ransacked and destroyed, all to make room for the new state of Israel. Historian Ilan Pappe describes the crime in this 28 minute lecture. And I am finally learning the details of this crime in his book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.”
The Israeli Right has tried unsuccessfully to bury the Nakba. But peace in the Middle East only has a chance if we all learn and fully understand the injustices that occurred at the hands of the Zionist leaders. As Pappe says, “we know the perpetrators, we know the victims, and we know the details of the crime” from military records, diaries and oral histories.
Many black and white photos of the Nakba refugees are here.
The forced expulsion lasted months but May 15th is the day that Palestinians remember the Nakba because the British Mandate formally ended on May 14, 1948 and Israel declared its “independence” the next day.
But to the Palestinians, one day was the same as the next. Jewish forces occupied and destroyed the first villages in December 1947 based on a very deliberate plan of action — called Plan Dalet or Plan D. Between January and May 1948, approximately 250,000 Palestinians were driven by force from their homes.
Ilan Pappe provides excruciating details of these events. If there is ever a truth and reconciliation commission established in Palestine, there will be plenty of documentation to review. And the stories are still alive with the descendants. I personally met many Palestinians in Gaza whose grandparents were expelled in 1948. Their stories of life before the Zionist campaign, and the horrific events of the Nakba, remain as clear as if they occurred only last week.
I learned a new term from Ilan Pappe’s book — Urbicide. Where the Holocaust was an act of genocide, the forced expulsion and destruction of 531 Palestinian towns and villages is called an urbicide. Tel Aviv University is built on top of the destroyed village of Shaykh Muwannis.
The Zionist leaders deliberately dynamited homes and other buildings to discourage Palestinians from returning to their villages. Looting and ransacking was so pervasive that military leaders admitted they could not control their men.
Today Nazareth is the only Arab city remaining in pre-1967 Israel. Pappe writes that the Palestinians in Nazareth were not evicted because “the eyes of the world were on Nazareth.” Where was the international community when these atrocities were occurring?
Two American reporters (from the Chicago Sun Times and the New York Herald Tribune) were on the ground, reporting what they saw, but Pappe says their coverage was “totally one-sided.” One reporter called the military campaign “ruthlessly brilliant.” The London Economist reporter was more sensitive and less biased.
The UN observers did nothing to stop it. In fact, one UN emissary was murdered by Jewish terrorists in September because of his proposal to redivide the country into half and demand the unconditional return of the refugees. His name was Count Folke Bernadotte.
Seeing the carnage taking place, the U.S. State Department drafted a new proposal to the United Nations in March 1948 for an international trusteeship over Palestine for five years during which time the two sides would negotiate an agreed solution, but the Zionist lobby squashed that idea. Member states in the U.N. liked the proposal but the U.S. State Department was pushed to the back bench on U.S. policy in Palestine.
The book by Elias Khoury (Bab al-Shams) tells the story of the massacre at Ayn al-Zaytun which has been made into a film. An eye-witness, Yusuf Ahmad Hajjar, told the Haganah that the villagers had surrendered and thus “expected to be treated humanely.” For his impudence, he was forced to pick 37 teenagers randomly who were shot and killed with their hands tied behind their back.
The massacres continue to this day.
Only 15 minutes by car from tel Aviv University is Kfar Qassim. On October 29, 1956, Israeli troops massacred 49 villagers returning from their fields.
- Qibya – 1950s
- Samoa – 1960s
- Villages of the Galilee in 1976
- Kfar Qana – 1999
- Wadi Ara – 2000
- Jenin Refugee Camp – 2002
There has never been an end to Israel’s killing of Palestinians. I witnessed it in Gaza in November 2012.
The ethnic cleansing continues today. In a 2006 poll, 68% of Israeli Jews wanted to see the Palestinians living inside the 1967 borders “transferred” out.
—– to be continued —-