Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 4:33 am Post subject: The Arabs of Palestine
The Arabs of Palestine
May 15, 2012
Yesterday, May 14th, the Palestinians commemorated, along with a group of odd Israeli Jews, the Nakba day. The day of Israel's foundation is a national day of mourning for those who sought to destroy the Jewish state, but did not succeed in their mission.
The events of 1948 must be remembered. The Arab side refused the UN partition plan and opened a war of destruction. Their great leader, the Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini, adopted the Nazi ideology, established SS battalions, met with Hitler, Himmler and Eichmann, and many of the Arab leaders spoke clearly and openly about a war of destruction. They did not succeed.
The fact that they did not succeed in destroying all the Jews in a genocidal war – is that something which should be commemorated?
Has anyone ever heard of a national day of commemoration in England for the Germans who were killed in World War II?
She wrote this article after a journey to the region when met with local residents and refugees, and discussed the situation. The following is an excerpt of her conversation with a Palestinian Arab, at the time:
" . . . "Please bear with me and help me," said I. "I am a simple American, and I am trying to understand how the Arab mind works, and I am finding it very difficult. I want to put some things in order; if I have everything wrong, you will correct me. In 1947, the United Nations recommended the Partition of Palestine. I have seen the Partition map and studied it. I cannot tell, but it does not look to me as if the Arabs were being cheated of their share of good land. The idea was that this division would work, if both Jews and Arabs accepted it and lived under an Economic Union. And, of course, the Arab countries around the borders would have to be peaceful and cooperative or else nothing would work at all. The Jews accepted this Partition plan; I suppose because they felt they had to. They were outnumbered about two to one inside the country, and there were the neighboring Arab states with five regular armies and forty million or more citizens, not feeling friendly. Are we agreed so far?"
"It is right."
"The Arab governments and the Palestinian Arabs rejected Partition absolutely. You wanted the whole country. There is no secret about this. The statements of the Arab representatives, in the UN are on record. The Arab governments never hid the fact that they started the war against Israel. But you, the Palestinian Arabs, agreed to this, you wanted it. And you thought, it seems to me very reasonably, that you would win and win quickly. It hardly seemed a gamble; it seemed a sure bet. You took the gamble and you lost. I can understand why you have all been searching for explanations of that defeat ever since, because it does seem incredible. I don't happen to accept your explanations, but that is beside the point. The point is that you lost."
"Yes." It was too astonishing; at long last, East and West were in accord on the meaning of words.
"Now you say that you want to return to the past; you want Partition. So, in fact you say, let us forget that war we started, and the defeat, and, after all, we think Partition is a good, sensible idea. Please answer me this, which is what I must, know. If the position were reversed, if the Jews had started the war and lost it, if you had won the war, would you now accept Partition? Would you give up part of the country and allow the 650,000 Jewish residents of Palestine -who had fled from the war--to come back?"
"Certainly not," he said, without an instant's hesitation. "But there would have been no Jewish refugees. They had no place to go. They would all be dead or in the sea."
He had given me the missing clue. The fancy word we use nowadays is "empathy"--entering into the emotions of others. I had appreciated and admired individual refugees but realized I had felt no blanket empathy for the Palestinian refugees, and finally I knew why--owing to this nice, gray-haired schoolteacher. It is hard to sorrow for those who only sorrow over themselves. It is difficult to pity the pitiless. To wring the heart past all doubt, those who cry aloud for justice must be innocent. They cannot have wished for a victorious rewarding war, blame everyone else for their defeat, and remain guiltless. Some of them may be unfortunate human beings, and civilization would collapse (as it notoriously did in Nazi Germany) if most people did not naturally move to help their hurt fellow men. But a profound difference exists between victims of misfortune (there, but for the grace of God, go I) and victims of injustice. My empathy knew where it stood, thanks to the schoolteacher.
"Do you follow the Eichmann trial?" I asked. An Arabic daily paper, weeklies, and radio station thrive in Israel.
"Yes. Every day." He wrinkled his nose with disgust.
"Do you not imagine that all the Jews in Israel believe this massacre of their people could have been prevented if the Jews had had a homeland to escape to? Don't you think that they knew,, also, what you just said: there would have been no Jewish refugees from here--they would be dead or in the sea? Doesn't that perhaps explain them to you a little?"
He shrugged, he smiled; with these gestures he tacitly admitted the point, but it was of minor importance. "In 1948, the Arabs were not united; that is why we lost. In 1956 the Jews beat Nasser. He will never make war. But when there are five million Jews here in Israel, the Jews will make war, because they will need more land."
"Israel is about the size of New Jersey, a state in America. Some six million people live quite comfortably in New Jersey. Israel could become an industrial state, a very useful one."
"No, it cannot. The Arab nations will not allow it. They will not trade with Israel. They will not let Israeli ships go through the Canal. They do not wish Israel to do these things. They will not accept Israel."
"It is hopeless," I said. "In my lifetime, those who threatened war sooner or later produced it. If Arab-Israel politics keep up like this, my friend, perhaps all of us, everywhere -you and your wife and Mary, and my child and my husband and I--will have the privilege of dying in the same stupid final war."
He thought I was making a rich foreign joke. He has never seen even a corner of a real big war; he cannot imagine it. He thinks war is something that lasts a few weeks, during which you shoot off bad bullets at a remote enemy, no one is killed, you run away for a bit and then come home to your undamaged houses and lead a good life, indeed a better material life than before. None of these Arabs has suffered anything comparable to what survivors of modern war know; none can imagine such catastrophe."
Ben Dror Yemini: "A million calamities and injustices and expulsions and population exchanges and acts of genocide and slaughter and wars have befallen the world since the Arabs, among them the Palestinians, declared a war of annihilation on Israel - but the Nakba of the Palestinians takes up most of the space. A visitor from another planet would think that it was the greatest injustice suffered by the entire universe since the Second World War. So it is best to shatter this lie. It is best to present the real facts. It is best to expose the fraud. . . . Parallel to the UN resolution on partition, the Arab countries declared a war of annihilation on Israel. The result is well known. The declaration of war led to hundreds of thousands of Arabs being forced to move to neighboring countries. Many of them fled. Many testified that they were forced to leave under pressure of their leaders. There were also some who were evicted in the heat of battle. About 600,000 people became refugees." (Nakba Day and the Fraud)