Apologies for cross-postings
With thanks to Sid Shniad:
I love the way this Israeli describes the process through which she came to grips with the reality, as opposed to the myth, of the creation
|August 8, 2019
How I learned to stop worrying and acknowledge the Nakba
For more than seven decades, Israelis haven’t been able to come to terms with the consequences of the Nakba. To do so, they’ll have to confront the hard truths about 1948, and shed their moral superiority.
By Michal Talya
Palestinians in the city of Ramle surrender to Israeli forces during 1948 war. (Eldad David/GPO)
The first time I ever heard a testimony about the Nakba was nearly two decades ago from a Bedouin man named Khalil who lived in the Negev/Naqab. I remember how difficult it was for me to believe that he was speaking the truth. In fact, I was convinced that as he told stories of cruelty meted out by both Israeli soldiers and policymakers, he was blowing things out of proportion — that he was under the influence of his “Oriental imagination,” trying to benefit from his status as a victim.
In the room were a handful of Israelis and a few dozen people from other countries, and it was unbearable to hear someone tarnishing me and the collective with which I identify — to watch someone debunking the foundations of the moral image I had of Israel. I had always fallen on the left side of the political spectrum, yet it was difficult for me to believe that Israeli soldiers could behave this way. And he was only telling his and his family’s personal story.
Khalil’s testimony made me aware that there was an entire story that had been hidden from me. All of us, graduates of the Israeli education system, Jews and Arabs, learned history and civics from textbooks that distorted and hid the difficult truths that led to Israel’s establishment.
Since then, I have listened to many more personal Palestinian testimonies, continuing to read and learn about the Nakba from various historical sources. In 2003 I began holding an annual meeting, which have taken place ever since, between Israeli Jews and Arab citizens on Memorial Day and Independence Day, where people could hear each other’s stories and share their pain and their hope.
Reading a recent investigative report — by Hagar Shezaf in Haaretz — on Israel’s attempt to conceal archival documents on the Nakba was a kick to the stomach. Within the pain of that kick lie a number of insights, including the understanding of just how brittle the moral basis of Israel’s founding was, and the extent to which the country’s leaders tried and continue to try to hide that fact.
The Zionist narrative always portrayed Israel’s military victory over the Arab armies in 1948 with pride and patriotism. But when it came to the Arab population of the country the official narrative twisted facts and hid the truth. Israelis were taught that the Arabs allegedly fled on their own accord, as if we didn’t need to make any effort to clear the land. This is how the founders of the state built a story on which an entire generation of children, including my parents, were raised. Decades later, Israeli children are still being raised on that very narrative.
In the eyes of the newborn state, it was necessary to paint things as such. Israel’s leaders knew they would lose international support should those war crimes come to light, especially the mass expulsion of a civilian population (85 percent of the Arab population was forced into exile due to the Zionist enterprise).
That is precisely why hiding the truth was necessary on two levels. One was practical, allowing Israel to maintain good relations with other countries. The other was internal, having to do with the Jewish collective self-image, which perceives the Jew as both spiritually and morally superior. According to this idea, Jews could do no evil or murder in cold blood. On a personal level, this kind of psychology made room for extremists who could easily be condemned, but certainly not a squad of soldiers in uniform carrying out orders. And if the acts carried out in the name of Jewish nationalism become too aggressive — whether in 1948 or today — then there must be some way to justify them.
Those who founded the state had a genuine need to tell a righteous story about themselves because the truth of what happened did not match their self-image as good human beings. The proud New Jew who worked the land — the tough tsabar — had an expectation of himself to act morally. After all, he was a member of the Chosen People, a light unto the nations.
One of the reasons we have not been able to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for over 100 years has to do with our self-perception as the Jewish people on three fundamental levels: the traditional-religious level, according to which we are spiritually and therefore essentially superior to all other nations; the cultural level, according to which we believe our morality is greater than of all other nations (this can be seen as the secular interpretation of the religious layer); and the historical-sociological level, in which we perceive ourselves as the ultimate victims of the world’s cruelty, manifested in anti-Semitism throughout the course of Western history and until today.
It is that final level that creates the largest mental block for Israelis, as it deludes us into perceiving Palestinians as playing the very same victimizing role that the pharaohs, the Romans, the Crusades, and the Nazis did, rather than seeing them as a people who have resisted Zionism since its onset simply because it comes at their own expense.
Palestinian refugees play in an impoverished area in Gaza City on January 17, 2018. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)
These three components of Jewish-Israeli identity are responsible for the gap between our collective high self-esteem and the actual way we have conducted ourselves vis-à-vis the Palestinians over the last century. This self-image of a superior and simultaneously persecuted people allows us to live this gap without spiraling into cognitive dissonance.
If we could give up on the perception of “the most moral army and nation in the world,” we could — 70 years down the line — take a brave look at ourselves and into our neighbors’ eyes and say: “Yes, this is what our founding fathers did. This is what the Zionist enterprise did to you. We acknowledge what happened.” Perhaps after 70 years we could have understood that we are a nation like any other — neither a morally superior people nor the ultimate victim of the world’s anti-Semitism, who deserves compensation at the expense of others. That instead, we are human beings who commit cruel acts when fighting for our lives, that we are nation with a commitment to take others into consideration to the best of our ability.
Jewish culture, the Hebrew language, and our national history are both important and precious to me. Yet I want to disassociate them from the package deal which ties them to the State of Israel under the banner of a “Chosen People” who are perpetually persecuted. We are a people like all others with complex problems that demand complex solutions. But we should strive for a more moral solution. Not because we are Jews but because we are human beings. It is important that we take responsibility for our still-censored past so that we can see ourselves for who we really are — so that we can take responsibility and change the reality we are creating for ourselves and those around us.
Michal Talya is an Israeli psychotherapist, social activist, and rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College. She is also the founder of the project ‘Together in Pain, Together in Hope,” which has held an annual gathering of Israeli Jews and Palestinians on Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day since 2003. A version of article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.
With thanks to Sid Shniad:
This is huge! IMHO, this points to the likelihood that all of the elaborate attempts by
Zionist forces to outlaw criticism of Israel and Palestine solidarity work could well
bump up against the fundamentals of the law, as happened recently in the Canadian
wine labelling case that our side won handily.
|Date:||Wed, 15 May 2019 17:58:10 +0000 (UTC)|
|From:||Nonviolence International <info|
With thanks to Kathy Bergen:
Many of you have met Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Palestian BDS movement. He has been under a travel ban imposed by Israel.
Last week he was refused entry to the US in order to attend his daughter’s wedding and to do a do a speaking tour.
Read his account below.
“Quakers became the first church in the UK to say they “will not invest in any company profiting from [Israel’s military] occupation.” Recently, several US churches have also voted to divest from Israeli and international companies complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights.”
Today marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and we celebrate the extraordinary strides that the BDS movement for Palestinian rights has made with your support. We are exposing Israel’s crimes and apartheid policies and building pressure to end them.
Please donate to help us do more in the year ahead.
Here are just a few highlights of direct and indirect BDS impact from 2018:
Just last week, Airbnb decided it would no longer profit from most illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land. This followed an international campaign led by the #StolenHomes coalition of organizations affiliated with the BDS movement for Palestinian rights and human rights organizations.
Earlier this month, Ilhan Omar made history by becoming the first sitting Congressperson to publicly endorse BDS.
Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, praised the BDS movement and supported cutting U.S. military aid to Israel.
Mobilizations across the world convinced Argentina’s national football team, led by Captain Lionel Messi, to cancel its exhibition match with Israel.
Celebrity singer Lana Del Rey became one of 19 artists to withdraw from Israel’s Meteor Festival, after thousands of fans and activists from around the world urged her to respect the Palestinian picket line. Shakira and Lorde were among other top artists to cancel their concerts in Israel this year. More than 100 DJs and electronic music artists joined the cultural boycott of Israel under #DJsForPalestine.
Major organizations from the Indian women’s movement, representing over 10 million women, endorsed the BDS movement and demanded the release of all Palestinian child prisoners.
Amnesty International called for an arms embargo on Israel. It slammed the United States and the European Union for their military deals with Israel and held them responsible for “fueling mass violations” of Palestinian human rights.
The UK Labour Party recently voted to freeze arms sales to Israel. In Ireland, a Minister of State and 50 Irish lawmakers called for Ireland to stop arming Israel. Earlier, Dublin became the first European capital to endorse BDS for Palestinian rights.
Parliamentarians from Spain and Portugal took a stand for Palestinian rights and denounced Israel’s war crimes and racist “Jewish Nation-State Law.” Several cities in Italy and the Spanish state called for an arms embargo on Israel.
The Movement for Black Lives released a powerful statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people and called for the United States to end its $38 billion in annual military aid to Israel.
40 international Jewish social justice organizations recognized that the BDS movement for Palestinian rights has a proven commitment to “fighting antisemitism and all forms of racism and bigotry.” They condemned attempts to stifle criticism of Israel’s policies.
A 2018 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, Professor George P. Smith, expressed support for the BDS movement and for cutting US military aid to Israel.
Adidas stopped sponsoring the Israel Football Association (IFA), which includes teams based in illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land, after appeals from more than 130 Palestinian sports clubs.
Trade unionists and human rights activists in Tunisia and across the Arab world forced Israel’s Zim shipping line to suspend its routes to Tunisia.
The Canadian Federation of Students, representing more than 500,000 students, just voted at their Annual General Meeting to back the BDS movement.
Leeds became the first UK university to divest from firms involved in Israel’s arms trade, following a BDS campaign by Palestine solidarity activists. The university has divested more than $1.2 million in holdings from corporations that trade military equipment with Israel.
Quakers became the first church in the UK to say they “will not invest in any company profiting from [Israel’s military] occupation.” Recently, several US churches have also voted to divest from Israeli and international companies complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights.
From South Africa, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, a member of parliament and Nelson Mandela’s grandson, has affirmed the critical role BDS is playing to end Israeli apartheid.
Together we can, and will, make the words “freedom, justice and equality” not an aspiration, but a reality.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.
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