The “Nakba” Obsession: The Palestinian national narrative is the biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

This is an essay by Sol Stern, at City Journal.

A specter is haunting the prospective Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations—the specter of the Nakba. The literal meaning of the Arabic word is “disaster”; but in its current, expansive usage, it connotes a historical catastrophe inflicted on an innocent and blameless people (in this case, the Palestinians) by an overpowering outside force (international Zionism). The Nakba is the heart of the Palestinians’ backward-looking national narrative, which depicts the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 as the original sin that dispossessed the land’s native people. Every year, on the anniversary of Israel’s independence, more and more Palestinians (including Arab citizens of Israel) commemorate the Nakba with pageants that express longing for a lost paradise. Every year, the legend grows of the crimes committed against the Palestinians in 1948, crimes now routinely equated with the Holocaust. Echoing the Nakba narrative is an international coalition of leftists that celebrates the Palestinians as the quintessential Other, the last victims of Western racism and colonialism.

There is only one just compensation for the long history of suffering, say the Palestinians and their allies: turning the clock back to 1948. This would entail ending the “Zionist hegemony” and replacing it with a single, secular, democratic state shared by Arabs and Jews. All Palestinian refugees—not just those still alive of the hundreds of thousands who fled in 1948, but their millions of descendants as well—would be allowed to return to Jaffa, Haifa, the Galilee, and all the villages that Palestinian Arabs once occupied.

Such a step would mean suicide for Israel as a Jewish state, which is why Israel would never countenance it. At the very least, then, the Nakba narrative precludes Middle East peace. But it’s also, as it happens, a myth—a radical distortion of history.

See rest of the essay, here.

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3 replies »

  1. The real Nakba is of course the defeat that the Palestinians and Arabs were not able to inflict on the Jews of Israel. The SixDay War defeat they refer to as the ‘Harsa’ (destruction) – any psychologist can see that they are projecting what they would have wanted to do to the Jews themselves.

    However, consistently omitted from the narrative is the successful eradication by Arab states of Jews from the Middle East and N Africa – the Jewish Nakba, the result of a ‘war’ of persecution, dispossession and violence on 99 percent of defenceless Jewish civilians living in 10 Arab lands. I can understand why the Arabs would not want to draw attention to the Jewish Nakba, but there is no excuse for activists on behalf of Israel to ignore this key issue. In fact everytime the subject of the Arab Nakba comes up, we should be talking about the Jewish Nakba.