You are posting a comment about... Mandel: Israel's Independence is the Palestinians' Al Nakba,
Source; Washington Times
Daniel Mandel has an instructive op ed in today's edition of the Washington Times on this 64th Anniversary of Israel's birth as a Jewish nation, May 14, 1948, "Perverse Palestinian pride". Mandel is a fellow in history at Melbourne University in Australia and director of the Zionist Organization of America’s Center for Middle East Policy. The Arab world, especially the Palestinians, bemoan the date given the doughty new nation's costly victory in the 1948-1949 War for Independence against the failed invasion of five Arab armies. They call it al Nakba, the catastrophe. More than 6,000 Israelis or 1 % of the 600,000 Jewish population of the new State of Israel lost their lives in intense combat that saw victory, but at the the loss of the old city of Jerusalem. Israel's capitol remain dividied until liberated and unified following the June Six days of war in 1967. Another Nakba for the Palestinians and the Arabs.
Mandel's tag line for his op ed about sums up the predicament of the Palestinians ," Losing an unwise war, refugees wear their predicament as a badge of honor." The perversity that Mandel writes of is reflected in the fact that Palestinin refugees have laguished for nearly four generations in the squalor of UNWRA refugee camps in Arab countries surrounding Israel and in the Palestinian territories on the West Bank and in Gaza. The camps are unwanted eyesores. The residents are despised brethren in host Arab countries without absorption, jobs, adequate housing and no future. There were originally 600,000 Palestinian refugees displaceed at the conclusion of the War for Independence. Now there are four million living in UNWRA camps. Other refugee groups in camps administered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees have been resettled, but not the Palestinian refugees. The UNWRA camps are cauldrons of hateful indoctrination supported by the generosity of international donors. The United States has contributed in excess of one third of the total annual cost approximately $500 million. Still the Palestinians fail to recognize why they failed to vanquish the despised Yahuds, the Jews. After all wasn't the land in the space between the River and the Sea conquered during the initial wave of Jihad, Islamic conquest. For Arab Muslims that meant once conquered the land remains forever a Waqf, a trust conveyed by their G-d, Allah. So the disaster is twofold. The hated Jews fought and took back their ancient Biblical homeland denying Allah's bequeath to his mujahideen. Israel is now a modern democratic state with a population of nearly 8 million, seven million of whom are Jews. The nation has a world ranked, dynamic, high tech economy offering freedom, fair treatment of women, gays and minorities, including Muslims who chose to remain after the War for Independence.
Mandel notes the contrast with al Nakba commemorations set against the seemingly unresolvable conundrum of permanent Palestinian refugee status:
Israel successfully resisted invasion and dismemberment - the universally affirmed objective of the Arab belligerents - and Palestinians came off worst of all from the whole venture. At the war’s end, more than 600,000 Palestinians were living as refugees under neighboring Arab regimes.
In the immediate years that followed, the refugees generally resisted the term naqba. That implied a permanence never contemplated. After all, they largely had evacuated the scene of hostilities under the impression that they would be returning speedily on the heels of Israel’s imminent defeat. When that failed to materialize, they yet hoped for a speedy return upon the destruction of Israel in a renewed round of fighting. When that, too, failed to materialize, however, the term naqba and the commemorations around it held on May 15 became fixtures.
So the term naqba is misleading. It smacks of falsehood, inasmuch as it implies a tragedy inflicted by others. The tragedy, of course, was self-inflicted.
As Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Abba Eban, was to put it, “Once you determine the responsibility for that war, you have determined the responsibility for the refugee problem. Nothing in the history of our generation is clearer or less controversial than the initiative of Arab governments for the conflict out of which the refugee tragedy emerged.”
However, the Palestinians do not mourn the ill-conceived choice of going to war to abort Israel. They mourn only that they failed.
[. . .]
The very fact that naqba commemorations are held today is therefore instructive in a way few realize: It informs us that Palestinians have not admitted or assimilated the fact - as the Germans and Japanese have done - that they became victims as a direct result of their efforts to be perpetrators.
It informs us that Palestinians still would like to succeed today at what they miserably failed to achieve then.
It also informs us that they take no responsibility for their own predicament, which is uniquely maintained to this day at their own insistence.
If readers doubt my word, consider this vignette from January 2001. That month, Palestinian rioters in the West Bank burned in effigy John Manley, then foreign minister in Jean Chretien’s Canadian government. His sin? Mr. Manley had offered to welcome Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Canada after a peace settlement. The Palestinian response? Legislator Hussam Khader of Fatah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ party - not Hamas or another of the Islamist groups - threatened Canada, saying, “If Canada is serious about resettlement, you could expect military attacks in Ottawa or Montreal.”
Though scarcely a typical response by a government official to an offer of refugee relief, Mr. Khader’s was nonetheless illuminating. Setting up a Palestinian state and resettling the refugees and their descendants inside it or abroad would remove any internationally accepted ground for conflict. That is why helping to solve the Palestinian refugee problem is regarded as a hostile act - by Palestinians.
Thus, naqba commemorations inform us that the conflict is about Israel’s existence, not about territory, borders, holy places, refugees or any other bill of particulars.
Only when Palestinians accept that Israel is here to stay will the possibility of the conflict’s end come into view.