Annual Nakba Commemoration Dinner Speech

The following is the text of my address to the Annual Nakba Commemoration Dinner, Dearborn, on 15 May 2010. (Video will be posted as soon as possible.)

I’m delighted to be with you on this most significant anniversary, and I want to begin with a very simple statement: In my view Nakba Denial – the denial by all supporters of Israel right or wrong of Zionist ethnic cleansing – is as obscene and as evil, repeat EVIL, as denial of the Nazi holocaust.

But today is not just about remembering what started to happen in Palestine that became Israel 63 years ago. It’s also about saluting the incredible, almost superhuman steadfastness of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians. The Victory sign is only a gesture but I ask you to join me in making it and say after me, “Palestinians of the occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip, we are with you!”

If one reversed the “V” sign as Winston Churchill sometimes did, one could say it was an appropriate gesture to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He would not have cause for complaint because it’s a gesture he frequently makes to President Obama.

I also want you to know why the occupied and oppressed Palestinians have a special place in my heart as well as my mind. It’s not just that they are the party with right on their side in arguably the most epic might v right struggle in all of history…. If there is one people on earth that ought to have been de-humanized by what has been done to them, it’s the occupied and oppressed Palestinians. They have NOT been de-humanized, but their Zionist oppressors have been, de-humanized by their racist thinking, their insufferable self-righteousness, their contempt for Judaism’s moral values and ethical principles as well as international law, and their criminal actions. Today I go as far as describing Israel’s extreme right wingers as Nazi-like.

For some light relief, and also some rare insight, I’ll now tell you my own favourite stories about the two greatest opposites in all of history – Yasser Arafat, Father Palestine, and Golda Meir, Mother Israel. I think I am probably the only person on Planet Earth who enjoyed intimate access to, and on the human level friendship with, both of them.

One of my most treasured souvenirs from my television reporting days is a signed picture of Golda when she was prime minister. The inscription in her own hand is – “To a good friend, Alan Hart.” Because I am a goy, that meant a lot to me. The picture is on my web site and it’s the first one in my latest book. I have also used it as a protective shield. In the late 1980′s when I lectured and debated coast-to-coast across America and Canada, I had the picture with me. When I was accused of anti-Semitism, I would hold up the picture, read out Golda’s inscription, and say to my accuser – “Do you think that old lady was so stupid that she couldn’t have seen through me if I was anti-Jew!” That always won me the applause of the audience and its contempt for my accuser.

When Golda died I went to Israel as a private citizen to say my last goodbye to her. After the burial ceremony on Mount Herzl, I was watching Prime Minster Begin and his ministers leaving. There was a tap on my shoulder. It was Lou Kadar, a very bright and witty lady of French origin who was Golda’s lifelong best friend and confidant. Lou said: “Alan, please come back to my apartment for a drink. There’s something I MUST tell you.” Over a glass of chilled white wine, Lou asked me a question: “Do you remember that BBC Panorama interview you did with Golda in which said the Palestinians did not exist?” I said to Lou: “Not only do I remember, the whole world remembers because it was Golda speaking on film.” (The full quote was: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian. It’s not as though we came and took their land from them. They didn’t exist.”) Lou then said:

“Golda made me promise to tell you, but not until she was dead, that as soon as those words left her lips, she knew they were ‘the silliest damn thing she had ever said!‘”

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