Zionism’s in-Israel political and military hawks, and their neo-con associates in America, have no equals in the business of making outrageous and self-righteous statements. But few come close to matching the recent utterance of Israel’s education minister, Gideon Sa’ar. “The creation of the State of Israel cannot be referred to as a tragedy.”
There is a case for saying that the creation of Israel was not a tragedy for the Jews, though in my often expressed opinion, even that is a very arguable proposition. But a tragedy for the Arabs it most certainly was.
Sa’ar’s statement came to my attention in a report from the JTA (the Jewish Telegraph Agency, “The Global News Service of the Jewish People”). It was headlined Nakba removal from classrooms spurs threats. The lead point of the JTA’s report was that Israeli Arab leaders had threatened a “revolt” after Israel’s education minister said that Nakba would be removed from classrooms. (It was introduced in text books for third-grade Arab classes only two years ago by the then education minister, Yuli Tamir).
According to the JTA’s take on the matter, Nakba means catastrophe and in Arabic “is used by the Arab community to describe the birth of Israel”. What a disingenuous statement that is! Nakba is used by Arabs to describe Zionism’s dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, a process that started before Israel’s birth (its unilateral declaration of independence) and which, actually, is continuing in slow motion today. By reducing the meaning of Nakba to “the birth of Israel”, the JTA is by definition complicit in Nakba denial.
In my book I write that denial of the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust is something I cannot get my Gentile mind around, and that this denial strikes me as evil on a par with the commissioning of the slaughter and the slaughtering itself. By the same token I think that Nakba denial is as obscene, even as evil, as the dispossession and ethnic cleansing denied.
The policy announced by education minister Sa’ar effectively requires a new generation of Israeli Arabs to wipe from their minds the truth of history.
Why, really, does it, Nakba denial, matter? Short answer – there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of a real peace process unless and until Jews in very big numbers, starting with Israeli Jews, are prepared to acknowledge that a terrible wrong was done to the Palestinians by Zionism.