Thursday, August 16, 2007
(see web page for links)
The "Naqba" Offensive
By Steven Plaut
FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/16/2007
Israel.s critics have increasingly adopted the term Naqba (or Nakba),
which means "catastrophe" in Arabic, to refer to the Jewish state's
creation and existence. The idea is that if "Palestinian Arabs" are
thought to have suffered as a result of Israel's creation and gaining of
independence, then Israel's very existence must be a disaster, a tragedy,
one that must be "corrected" and cured through Israel's annihilation.
The far Left has taken the Orwellian rhetoric one step further. Not only
is Israel's very existence a "Naqba" or catastrophe, but anyone denying
that it is so must be guilty of "Naqba Denial," a new sin discovered by
the Left that is on the same par with Holocaust Denial. Indeed, since very
few Jews anywhere outside the Left consider Israel's very existence to be
a "Naqba," their collective "guilt" in perpetrating "Naqba Denial" is an
easy form of exoneration for Holocaust Deniers. After all, why should
people be so upset by Holocaust Deniers when the Jews themselves engage in
It is not only the Left that repeats this libel. Right-wing journalist
Arnaud De Borchgrave has recently joined the campaign as well. Under the
title "Embarrassing History", De Borchgrave . UPI's Editor at Large -
embarrasses his own reputation by endorsing the "Naqba" pseudo-history of
a Stalinist anti-Semite renowned for his academic fraud and fabrication
(see below). De Borchgrave, who has a long history of Israel-bashing, in
the past claimed that a cabal of "Likudniks" controls Washington.
A quick web search on yahoo.com shows that there are over 46,000 web sites
now writing about "Naqba Denial" (often spelled Nakba), with a slightly
lower count on Google. Counterpunch, the radical magazine that defended
Noam Chomsky's denial of the Khmer Rouge genocide, has been among the
leading proponents of the term. 1017 pages at Counterpunch use the Nakba
term and 196 use "Nakba denial."
So what are we to make of all this?
First of all, Israel gained its independence in a war of liberation during
1948 and 1949, in which - despite being poorly equipped and enormously
outgunned - Israel defeated the combined military forces of the
Palestinians militias and the organized armies of the independent Arab
states. As in any war, some "Palestinian" Arabs suffered during it. In
that war thousands of Jews (often civilians) were murdered by those same
Arabs. It was a war that could have been avoided altogether had the Arabs
made their peace with the UN Partition Resolution of 1947, which proposed
splitting Western Palestine into two states . one Jewish and one Arab .
with roughly equal territory. The Jews accepted that Partition Resolution,
including its proposal for an Arab Palestinian state; the "Palestinian"
Arabs and the Arab states rejected it. The Arab armies then invaded
Western Palestine and illegally annexed most of the territories that had
been earmarked to form a Palestinian Arab state. They held those
territories illegally until they lost them to Israel in six days, when
they launched yet another war of aggression in 1967. Israel liberated
those territories from their illegal occupiers in 1967 and has held most
of them since, while expressing willingness for a territorial compromise
in exchange for peace.
Characterizing any suffering by "Palestinian" Arabs during and subsequent
to the 1948-9 war of Israeli independence as a "Naqba" is as
mind-numbingly stupid as characterizing the existence of the United States
as a catastrophe because of the tragic suffering of the 100,000 or so Tory
loyalists forcibly evicted by the United States during its War of
Independence. Those Tory refugees from the colonies were absorbed by the
countries to which they fled, mainly Maritime British Canada. They
forfeited all their property left behind in the United States. The
American Patriot leaders opposed any sort of compensation or settlement
for them, including Benjamin Franklin. They would never be granted any
"right of return" to the territories they had left.
Since most nations gain independence in armed struggle of one sort or
another, armed struggle in which some civilians inevitably suffer, then by
the "logic" of the ranteurs about "Naqba Denial" the existence of all
those states should also be deemed catastrophes. But Israel alone is
singled out for condemnation.
In Israel's War of Independence, some 400,000 or so "Palestinian" Arabs
ended up as refugees. The bulk of these "Palestinians" were Arabs whose
families had migrated into Western Palestine during the previous 70 years
from neighboring Arab territories, during the same era in which the
Zionist immigrations took place, and largely motivated by the improving
conditions being generated in "Palestine" by the influx of Zionist
migrants and capital. As "refugees" they fled back to those same
neighboring Arab lands. Their "refugee plight" is supposedly what users of
the "Naqba" term mean when they apply it.
There is some controversy over how exactly those "Palestinian" Arabs
became "refugees." In many cases they were ordered to abandon the war zone
by their own leaders, in order to clear the way for invading Arab armies.
This has been scrupulously documented by many historians, and most
recently skillfully so by Efraim Karsh from the University of London. Arab
historians themselves have conceded the point:
"Arab residents of Palestine in 1948 were not expelled by Israeli
officials or military forces, as many claim, but were actually ordered to
leave by local Arab leaders, says Palestinian journalist Mahmud Al-Habbash
who writes for the official Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat
Al-Jadida. Al-Habbash writes in his column, "The Pulse of Life," that Arab
residents were explicitly instructed by their local Arab leaders to leave
their homes when the 'Catastrophe' (the establishment of the State of
Israel) occurred in 1948."
Other Arab sources report the same thing:
"The Arab states encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes
temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies." -
Falastin (Jordanian newspaper), February 19, 1949.
"The Arab governments told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we got
out, but they did not get in." Ad Difaa (Jordanian daily), September 6,
"The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the
Zionist tyranny but, instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate
and to leave their homeland." - Abu Mazen, President of the Palestinian
Authority, in "What We Have Learned and What We Should Do," published in
Falastin el Thawra, the official journal of the PLO, March 1976.
Granting a right to these "refugees" to return to Israel would have made
about as much sense as establishing a right to return to America for
ethnic Japanese who left the US in 1941 in order to participate in
Imperial Japan's wars. In some cases Arabs were evicted by Israel from
villages where strategic considerations required this, although generally
were moved to other areas inside Israel. In some cases Arab civilians
panicked because of the lurid lies being broadcast by Arab propaganda
radio stations about the demonic Jews conducting imaginary massacres. And
probably the most important factor of all was the simple and
understandable desire of many Arabs to get out of the way of the battle
Israel's War of Independence was a battle against Arab aggressors
attempting to conduct ethnic cleansing of Jews inside the territories
assigned by the UN to Israel. Had they succeeded, a genocidal massacre of
those Jews would have taken place. Many of the Jews in question had
escaped from or survived the Nazi Holocaust and were themselves refugees.
More Jews died in that 1948-49 war for survival than in any of the
subsequent Arab-Israeli armed confrontations.
Given the size of the Israeli state that emerged, smaller than New Jersey,
the "Palestinian refugees" from that war only had to relocate a few miles
away from their previous homes, into Arab states in which they spoke the
language and enjoyed a common culture, Arab states who together controlled
a land mass nearly twice the size of the United States (including Alaska).
These Arab refugees were but a tiny drop in the sea of population
relocations that occurred all over the world in the late 1940s, amounting
to tens of millions of humans, ranging from the huge population
relocations in the Indian subcontinent, to the repatriation of millions of
ethnic Germans from countries in which they had lived for a thousand years
"back" to Germany, to the mass expulsion of Japanese from mainland Asia.
In every other case of refugee populations, the refugees were quickly
resettled, rehabilitated, and absorbed, usually inside countries of their
ethnic kinsmen, within a short period. The Arab world, awash in
petrodollars, preferred to keep as many "refugees" on display as possible
inside "refugee camps" funded by the United Nations and many gullible
Meanwhile, away from the headlines and media, Israel quietly allowed about
184,000 "Palestinian refugees" or their families to return to Israel
proper (Jerusalem Post, January 2, 2001; see also Haaretz 28 December 28,
2000). This was in spite of the fact that they became refugees in the
first place as a direct result of the Arab invasion and war of
annihilation against Israel in 1948-9, a war in which "Palestinian" Arabs
participated en masse. These were in addition to about 57,000 Palestinians
from Jordan illegally in Israel, toward whom the Israeli authorities have
turned a blind eye (Haaretz, April 4, 2001). All of these were resettled
within Israel's pre-1967 "Green Line" borders. Meanwhile, the handing out
of free food and money in the UN "refugee camps" to "Palestinian refugees"
produced an enormous influx of non-Palestinian Arabs eager to share in the
largesse, creating an astronomical and largely illusionary demographic
increase in the numbers of "Palestinian Arabs." The bulk of those
"Palestinian refugees" never lived in the territories that became Israel.
Now if the "Palestinian Arabs" experienced a small-scale outflow of
refugees as a direct result of the attempted genocide against Jews
conducted by the Arab armies in 1948-49, this hardly constitutes a
historic "Naqba," a word implying something on the same order of magnitude
as the Mongol invasions.
Israel's creation did however trigger an actual "Naqba," although it was
one that hardly interests Islamofascists and their leftist amen choruses.
It was the mass wholesale expulsion of around a million Jews from Arab and
Moslem countries and the theft of their property. This "Naqba" of Jews
living in the Moslem world produced twice as many refugees as the number
of Arab refugees who fled after Israel's independence in 1948-49. Jews had
been living in those lands for thousands of years. The Arab regimes
responded to Israel's victory in 1948-49 by conducting ethnic cleansing of
their own Jewish populations, expelling them and seizing all their
property without compensation. Jewish quarters were sacked and looted,
cemeteries were desecrated, while synagogues, Jewish shops, schools and
houses were ransacked, burned and destroyed. Hundreds of Jews were
murdered in anti-Semitic riots and pogroms.
Most of those Jewish refugees were resettled in Israel. The Jews from Arab
countries left behind property worth many times more than anything left
behind by "Palestinian refugees." Israel has expressed willingmess to
discuss compensation for property lost by Arab "refugees" as part of any
peace accord, provided that compensation for Jewish refugees from Arab
lands is also part of the package. The Arabs have always dismissed that
idea out of hand.
Among those promoting the complaint about a "Naqba" inflicted upon
"Palestinians" by the Jews are a handful of Israeli pseudo-academics. The
most notorious of these Israeli "academics," and the one who has done more
than any other anti-Israel Israeli to promote the moral equivalence of
"Naqba Denial" with Holocaust Denial, is "New Historian" Ilan Pappe.
Nearly all those beating the "Naqba" drum today cite Pappe and his "books"
about the supposed "ethnic cleansing" of Arabs by Israel in its war of
independence. Pappe was until recently a lecturer in political science at
the University of Haifa, and has now moved to an academic propagandist
position at the University of Exeter in the UK. The chief executive of the
Board of Deputies of British Jews recently said: "After taking full
advantage of all the freedoms accorded to him in Israel, a country he has
so shamelessly attacked, Pappe has decided to set up shop here. Whilst
this provides the opportunity for academics here to challenge him on his
revisionist agenda, the uncomfortable fact is that in the lecture theaters
and seminar rooms at Exeter, many impressionable young minds will be
exposed to his partial and biased views."
Pappe is a notorious fabricator, someone who claims proudly that facts and
truth are of no importance. "Indeed the struggle is about ideology, not
about facts, Who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people
as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we
do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truthseekers,"
the French newspaper Le Soir, has cited Pappe as saying. Even other
anti-Zionists have repudiated Pappe as a liar and fabricator. He openly
calls for Israel to be exterminated and endorses Hamas. He dedicated one
of his "books" to the hope that his children can group up in a world in
which there is no Israel. He openly endorses Arab terrorism. He considers
Noam Chomsky insufficiently anti-Israel.
Pappe, who ran for the parliament in Israel on the slate of the Stalinist
communist party and played a central role in fomenting boycotts of Israel
in the UK and elsewhere, was the central figure in the now infamous
"Tantura Affair." In it, Pappe coached a graduate student of his into
inventing a non-existent "massacre" of Arabs by the Hagana Jewish militia
(Alexandroni Brigade) in Tantura, south of Haifa, a "massacre" that Pappe
claims took place in 1948. Not a shred of evidence for any such "massacre"
exists. Arab and other journalists who were present at the time of the
battle that took place in Tantura reported no massacre. Arabs living in
the town at the time confirmed that a battle occurred, but that after the
battle the Jewish militiamen aided and assisted the townspeople, not
massacring anyone. The graduate student, sued for libel by the veterans of
the Hagana militia, later admitted in court with his lawyer present that
the entire massacre was an invention.
No matter . Pappe roams the world and continues to spread the lie about
the Tantura "massacre," a lie that has found its way into nearly every
anti-Semitic web site on earth and even Neo-Nazi magazines, although even
a handful of respectable mainstream journalists rely on him. Pappe has
also lied about just about everything else, including about being
"persecuted" by his own university. In fact, Pappe was never fired for his
fraud and fabrication by the University of Haifa, although he should have
been. (Some wags even suggested the University should be boycotted for NOT
firing Pappe!) That did not stop Pappe from waving his stigmata as "victim
of Zionism" before the European anti-Semites promoting "divestment" from
Israel. His recruitment by the University of Exeter proves how indifferent
that school is to scholarly standards. The fact that so many of the people
shouting about "Naqba Denial" rely upon such a notorious liar states
volumes about their real agenda.
Meanwhile, Israel's own daffy Minister of Education, Yuli Tamir (from the
Israeli socialist Labor Party and herself a longtime Moonbette member of
the Tenured Left at Tel Aviv University), recently issued a ruling under
which textbooks in Israeli Arab schools will start referring to Israel's
creation as "The Naqba." This is just in case those Arab students are not
picking up enough hatred of Jews and Israel on their own at home. The
numbers of Israeli Arabs blowing themselves up inside buses to murder Jews
will no doubt increase in the future thanks to her. If Israel ever
surrenders to terror and capitulates to Arab fascism, future historians
may consider that decision a watershed.
"Naqba Denial" is now the leading term of choice being tossed about by
those seeking Israel's extermination. Some of those using the term also
openly endorse Holocaust Denial. The others would have no problem at all
with the Arab world conducting an ethnic cleansing of Israeli Jews of the
sort they failed to perpetrate in 1948.
"Naqba Denial" is openly being used as a propaganda ploy to trivialize the
Jewish Holocaust in World War II. After all, if the Jews are "denying" the
"Naqba" they "inflicted" on the poor "Palestinians" in 1948-9, then why
should the world owe the Jews any sympathy for their plight in World War
II? (And why stop there . why not declare that those who deny that Ward
Churchill is an Indian or that Norman Finkelstein is a scholar are also
the moral equivalents of Holocaust Deniers?) And if Israelis deny they
inflicted any "Naqba," why should anyone question the right of Holocaust
Deniers to peddle their snake oil on campuses? Israel bashers demand that
Israel be pressured into atoning for its "role" in the Naqba the same way
Germany atoned for the Holocaust, but unlike Germany Israel must do so by
forfeiting its national existence.
In sum, those who use the terms "Naqba" and "Naqba Denial" ignore the fact
that Arabs living under Israeli rule are treated a thousand times better
than are Arabs living under the rule of Arab regimes. These are the same
people for whom the only Middle East regime that is not an apartheid state
must be demolished and purged for its practicing "apartheid." For them,
the only country in the Middle East practicing democracy and respecting
human rights must be annihilated.
2. How do we know that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann is the greatest
politician in Israel today? Because Amira Hass, the Hamas' Tokyo Rose
from Haaretz, writes that he is destroying Israel's judicial system
I had written that Haggai Alon was Barak's defense advisor in my last
posting, but in fact he was Peretz' and left when Barak came to office.
4. Time to Muzzle Avrum Burg:
5. Denying tenure to swine:
Alumni Group Seeks to Deny Tenure to Middle Eastern Scholar at Barnard
Controversial research on Israel and the Palestinian territories has
become the basis of yet another campaign to prevent a professor from
winning tenure. A group of Barnard College alumni has drafted an online
petition asking their alma mater to deny tenure to Nadia Abu El-Haj, an
assistant professor of anthropology whose scholarship, they say, is flawed
and skewed against Israel.
The group.s criticisms of Ms. Abu El-Haj focus on her book Facts on the
Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli
Society (University of Chicago Press, 2001), which argues that Israeli
archaeologists have produced biased research that bolsters the .origin
myth. of the Jewish state.
The petition, which has drawn just over 1,000 signatures, accuses Ms. Abu
El-Haj of ignoring or mischaracterizing large parts of the archaeological
record, of not being able to speak Hebrew, and of treating Israeli
archaeologists unfairly in her work. Ms. Abu El-Haj declined to comment
The petition comes on the heels of a high-profile campaign . led by Alan
M. Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor . to persuade DePaul University to
deny tenure to Norman G. Finkelstein, a professor known for his criticisms
of Israel and what he calls the .Holocaust Industry.. Mr. Finkelstein was
denied tenure. .John Gravois
6. Olmert's peace partners