Here, in a post I found in my Facebook feed, shared by some friends who are evidently still taken in by such pro-“Israel” distortions, is a blatant example of how Zionists justify their unconscionable unilateral & ethnocratic sovereignty over Palestine (I have quite frequently come across such “arguments” put forward by apologists for the Zionist occupation of Palestine, but never quite so blatantly: “The Jews” are the indigenes & the Palestinian Arabs are the settler colonists!
“[…] when taking into account 3,000 years of history and context, Palestinian Arabs, not indigenous Israeli Jews, become the offending party”. [???!!!] / Around 1,300 years ago, descendants and followers of the Prophet Mohammad from Arabia poured out of the Peninsular in an orgy of conquest, expansionism and colonization. They first annihilated ancient Jewish tribes in places like Yathrib (known today as Medina) and Khaybar before sweeping north, east and west, conquering what is today known as the Middle East, North Africa and even southern Europe. / The Jews, the last people to hold sovereignty and independence in the land, were subsequently harassed and unequally treated by a series of Roman, Byzantine and Muslim conquerors, whether Fatimid, Ayyubid, Mamluk or Ottoman. / Still, the Jewish presence never disappeared”
The description of the Muslim conquest more than a millennium ago may be correct, but “the Jewish presence never disappeared”? Not true. A (small) Jewish presence never disappeared. There is a difference!
“When many Jews started returning to their ancestral land in the late 19th and early 20th centuries after an extremely difficult dispersion, they never sought to disrupt or disturb those whose ancestors had conquered and occupied the territory while they were in their long exile.”
!!! This is perhaps the most offensive lie. The history of Zionist immigration to Palestine is filled with acts by Jewish settler colonists that did much more than merely “disrupt or disturb” the lives of the native Arab Palestinians (& the Nakba is still ongoing!).
“Unfortunately, today, in most people’s view of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians – a self-identity barely two generations old – the colonized have become the colonizers and the role of the native Jewish population turned upside down.”
This takes the lie a step further: now all the Jews born in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East & elsewhere who have immigrated to Palestine are called “the native Jewish population”, & “the colonized” (by the Arab Palestinians!), while the actual native Arab population (some of whom may indeed be descendants of the colonizers of 1300 years ago) are called “the colonizers” & are not considered native!
& the final distortion:
“In this conflict, only one people – the Jews – meet the criteria of indigeneity, while it is abundantly clear from a cursory understanding of history that the Arab Palestinians do not, as their origins, language, culture and religion came from elsewhere. / This is the long misunderstood historical context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is absolutely a conflict between an oppressed people [“the Jews”] fighting every day for the freedom to live in their ancestral and indigenous homeland against settlers and occupiers [the Arab Palestinians]. If the lens of history is widened, it becomes clear that the current paradigm of the Jewish people as settlers and colonizers and the Palestinians as native to the territory is the opposite of the truth.”
Really? Firstly, it is not “the Jewish people” – it is the Zionist State of Israeli Jews (who constiture a distinct nation among the Jews in the world, the majority of whom are not Israelis) which has occupied & oppressed & dispossessed native Arab Palestinians for almost 70 years. Secondly, this Zionist State was established by Zionist Jews, to be settled & colonized by Jews who were not native to Palestine.
& here’s the link to the offensive post: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international-affairs/312895-heres-how-were-getting-it-wrong-on-the-israeli
Nitza spoke to me so interestingly & with such warmth & appreciation about Natalia Ginzburg, whom she’s been reading in Hebrew translation, that I just had to do some extensive googling. & then I found these quotations in an article in Italian, Claudia Nocentini, “Ebraismo e Cristianesimo in Natalia Ginzburg”, & felt I had to translate them into both English & Hebrew. (& to make this meme & publish it).
Here are the texts again in larger print:
I’m Jewish. Anything relating to Jews always, it always seems to me that it involves me directly. I’m Jewish only on my father’s side, but I’ve always thought that that my Jewish side has to be more weighty and encumbering than the other side.
When someone speaks about Israel with admiration, I feel that I’m on the other side. At a certain point, perhaps late, I understood that the Arabs are poor peasants and shepherds. I know very few things about myself, but I know with absolute certainty that I don’t want to remain on the side of those who use arms, money and culture to oppress peasants and shepherds.
Our instinct urges us either from one side or the other. But in truth it is perhaps impossible today to remain on one side or the other. People and peoples are undergoing rapid and horrible transformations. The only choice possible for us is to be on the side of those who die or suffer unjustly.
Sharing this Facebook post from a couple of days ago, both for the pics of the protest march in Dublin marking the 68th anniversary of the (ongoing!) Palestinian Nakba, & for the dialogue that developed in the comments, until the remarking of the Jewish Nakba…
To see the entire post with the comments, click on the date link that appears immediately beneath my name (Richard Flantz) at the very top of the post, or here.
& here I’ll insert some paragraphs of my remarks in the dialogue, in slightly changed order, with a few additions &/or editings inside square brackets:
The UN partition proposal was one no sane self-respecting Arab Palestinian could possibly accept (to reverse what Brando says in The Godfather: “Give them an offer they can’t accept”). Therefore neither the Arab Palestinians nor the Arab League are in any way responsible for the Nakba.
Mass expulsion and intimidation of Arab Palestinians began before the war of the 15.5.48 invasion (a significant proportion fled before it. Ran Greenstein writes ’Benny Morris in The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, estimates (based on Israeli military sources) that about half of the total numbers of refugees lost their home BEFORE 14/5/1948, in Haifa, Tiberias, and dozens of other towns and villages.’
Arab Palestinians didn’t initiate or direct the invasions or the actions of the invading armies, & cannot be held responsible for war crimes & atrocities committed by them, such as those of the Jordanian army [in Jerusalem]. How can you suggest that because the Jordanians did that, there is something wrong or dishonest ot dishonorable in commemorating the Nakba that is contuiningly being suffered by the Arab Palestinians?
Permanent war is what Zionism means & does & has to do. Netanyahu wasn’t lying when he said Israel will always have to live by the sword. & there’s little point thinking about solutions proposed in the past. Today the only decent, humane, just solution is to give up the Jewish state idea & keep on living a Hebrew life in a binational state of Palestine (Eretz-Yisrael) as equal citizens with its other inhabitants. But before that can happen Israelis will have to acknowledge their crimes, acknowledge the Nakba, express their deep regret & shame for what they have done to the non-Jewish people who lived in Palestine before the Zionist incursion, offer acceptable restitution, confirm the Palestinian Right of Return & give up the right of Diaspora Jews to “return” and immediately become citizens of this state.
I imagine you’ll say that it’s wrong & dangerous to deprive Diaspora Jews of this privilege they’ve had these last 68 years, because, hey, they might need a haven from antisemitism. To that I’ll say that today there’s no more dangerous place in the world for a Jew than in Israel, the country state that has to live by its sword.
Yes, [&] there [also] is a Jewish Nakba. No, not the Shoah. That was horrendous, immeasurably, immensely. But it ended, after six years. Its impacts & effects haven’t ended, but the crimes committed then stopped being committed there. But beside the Shoah of the Jews there is the Jewish Nakba, which began the moment the Palestinian Nakba began: the Nakba, the catastrophe, of the Jewish psyche, the Israeli-Jewish psyche & the Diaspora-Jewish-Zionist psyche: the degenerative mass psychosis that justifies building a homeland on an existing population’s homeland & expelling & banishing multitudes of them for life & holding the remaining population under military occupation &[/or siege &] so much more that is neither Jewish nor humane… [& living with the suppressed guilt, & robbing Israeli boys & girls of their youth & some of them of their lives & turning them into oppressors &/or beneficiaries of oppression & dispossession, destroying the consciences & the capacity for empathy of generation after generation… & more…]
[& I should have added: & yes, its name should be an Arabic name, the Arabic name for what Arab Palestinians have suffered & are still suffering as a consequence of the Jewish Nakba.]
I’ve made a meme of the par about the Jewish Nakba:
Nitza, my dear life-partner (on the left in the pic below) has just posted this memoir on Facebook, & I want to share it here, also as a small picture from a history of the history that I married into & that has been part of my own history & life for the past 51+ years now:
Between the Two Sisters (A Chapter)
Something personal I wrote on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016.
I wrote it in English, although Hebrew is the language I was born into, and I asked my devoted life-partner Richard to go over it and help me so it will be readable.
It has to be in English as I want my four grandchildren who are brought up in Australia to be able to read it at some time in their life.
We are two sisters, born three years apart during the time of World War 2.
Not in Poland where the horrors happened, and where all my parents’ families were living, but in sunny, white, modern and young Tel Aviv (the first Hebrew city of modern times), a city that was built with tremendous energies, on the uninhabited sands of the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, north of old Jaffa.
My parents took part in living in and building this city and this dream. They came to Palestine in the early 1930s, like and with many others young people, in their early 20s, leaving their families, following their dream of a new world, a new way of life, in an independent Jewish homeland. Choosing to become pioneers, hard workers, in a hot and unknown land, and to build a new home, rebelling against the old oppressed way of living in Europe. I still keep in my archive letters sent to them from their families, and old photos of their life in Europe, that my father kept all his life in little packages tied with rubber bands, but never shared with us. I found out that my father’s mother also knew how to write in modern Hebrew, I guess she was a Zionist herself, as I also know that his parents helped him with the ticket to Palestine.
My sister Tamar was born in 1940, a year or so after Poland was occupied by the Nazis. Although letters stopped arriving in 1939, I believe my parents did not grasp what was going on.
Tamar is an ancient Hebrew name, it is the name of the tree that bears dates, a tall, strong and nourishing tree which can survive on very little water in hot countries. A symbol of life in the Jewish tradition. This is what my parent wished for her and for themselves. To this day my sister Tamar is strong and tall and was able to raise and nourish her own family and have a stable life.
I was born three years later in 1943, and I understand that by then my parents knew much more. This was the year the Soviet Army managed to stop the Nazi invasion, but the slaughter of the Jews in Poland was enormous. I keep feeling that my grandparents, my two aunts and my little three-year-old cousin David were murdered while I was in my mother’s womb.
They named me Nitzhia, a name which is an invention of the new modern Hebrew, a word that contains in it three powerful somewhat mystical words: victory, eternity, and one of the names of God.
I keep thinking today that this name given to me must have come from desperation of not being able to do a thing in the face of the human degeneration… – to seek comfort in some spiritual power.
I don’t have any memory of them using this name when talking to me or talking about me, as I only remember the name Nitza, which means the season of budding, more optimistic and close to nature. But they kept the official name in all the official important documents, as if to tell me again and again not to forget the name I was given.
They did not talk much, I didn’t understand much until I grew up. My mother was saved by her own motherhood experience, she kept some joyful energies with a touch of cynicism, while my father became more and more closed, detached, depressed, with unexpected bursts of anger.
I don’t know exactly how the events of history, biography and the name I was given influenced who I became to be, but I do know that since early childhood I have recorded memories like short movies in my mind, and I have made it a kind of emotional routine to revisit and see them again and again as in my private video library, consciously reliving what I kept.
I feel my own little victory will be to tell about them in writing, and by this bring them closer to eternity, for me, for my parents, for my only sister, for the family Richard and I made, for my grandparents and family I never knew.
The other day I read a post on Facebook by Jonathan Ofir, an expatriate Israeli musician living in Denmark who has recently published a number of excellent, eloquent & well-informed critical writings on Israel/Palestine that I have followed with much appreciation, & I’ve shared quite a few of them. In this post, which also appeared as an article in Mondoweiss, he wrote:
JUST BEFORE LEAVING ISRAEL (I’m on way to airport), I had a little conversation with my nephew aged 7. He asked me whether Denmark was a Christian country. I said that whilst the majority are considered Christians (most of whom don’t go regularly to church), there are people of other religions and faiths. He asked me whether Christians were enemies of Jews, and I said they weren’t. He said that was good, because then he would be enemies with my children, his cousins (who in fact are not Jews). / Then he said he’s not Jewish himself, because he was born in USA…I told him that Judaism is a religion – and here I had to tell him a truth which caused a roaring silence amongst the family bystanders – I told him that a Jew can be born anywhere in the world, because Judaism is a religion and not a nationality… and this is where I was obviously speaking diametrically against the deceit of the State of Israel, in its considering Jews a ‘nation’, […]
Then this morning I read an article in The Guardian by Nick Cohen titled “Why I’m becoming a Jew and why you should, too”. The article began: “It took me 40 years to become a Jew. When I was a child, I wasn’t a Jew and not only because I never went to a synagogue. My father’s family had abandoned their religion so he wasn’t Jewish. More to the point, my mother and my grandmother weren’t Jewish either, so according to orthodox Judaism’s principles of matrilineal descent, it was impossible for me to be a Jew.”
Both Ofir and Cohen define being a Jew as a matter of religion. But it isn’t.
& reading these things I was moved to write the lines above. I know how many people get confused about what being a Jew is, & I hope these lines will help. Because being a Jew is not a matter of religion. Nor is it a matter of nationality.
& I’m going to share them with Jonathan Ofir, because I feel he has misled his young nephew & in the hope that he can correct this in another communication with him. As for Nick Cohen, there are too many other things in his article that I think are way off the mark….